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Arizona heat ushers in Critical Days of Summer

Critical Days of Summer, 162nd Fighter Wing safety tips. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

Critical Days of Summer, 162nd Fighter Wing safety tips. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- It wasn't your ordinary safety briefing the Friday before drill weekend. There was laughter, a few snickers, then - applause.

"Well done. This is the first time I've seen applause following a safety briefing," said Colonel Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander here. He was addressing Lt. Col. Jeffrey Waterbury, the wing's new safety officer at the completion of his first quarterly safety briefing to wing staff.

Waterbury was sure to cover the important topics, such as the Air Force's critical days of summer - that timeframe from around Memorial Day to around Labor Day when the service tends to see an increase in safety incidents. But the colonel was also sure to interject his own personality and humor into the briefing to drive his points home.

"It might not be safe to jump over four of your buddies on a motorcycle, but let's look at the positive aspects of this slide," he said. "This guy is wearing a helmet, leather gloves, and protective footwear." The room erupted in laughter.

Some of the less-than-intelligent things people do are certainly worthy of laughs. To avoid being the topic of a future safety briefing slideshow, heed some of the following summertime safety themes that Waterbury was sure to point out:

Travel
- Plan ahead and make sure your vehicle is fully prepared
- Buckle up every time and put children in the back seats
- Drive at a speed commensurate with driving conditions
- Get plenty of rest and pull over to avoid dozing off
- Don't drink and drive!

Swimming
- Swim with a buddy
- Know your swimming ability
- Check the water and depth before diving

Boating
- Know the rules
- Use life vests
- Check the weather
- Don't drink and boat!

Jogging
- Warm-up first and drink plenty of fluids throughout
- Be visible by wearing light-colored and reflective clothing
- Use a sidewalk and jog facing traffic

"Heat is really one of the biggest threats we have in Southern Arizona," said Waterbury. "I typically don't drink enough water and I often realize this after the fact. Also the effects of the sun, such as melanoma, are insidious. It's important to take precautionary steps to limit the harmful effects of overexposure," he said.

He concluded his briefing with the important reminder that, although we are individuals, we're still responsible for each other. "Always be safe, and be a good wingman," he said.

"I can't stress enough how important it is to have a wingman. I am typically an introvert and I enjoy my time alone, but I am fully aware that there are times when I need support and someone else's advice or help. A friend can often be just what I need to help me carry the load," he said.