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By now, you’re probably starting to feel that summer itch to let loose. The weather is getting warmer, the grills are firing up, and the pools are starting to open. But before you decide it’s a good idea to let your buddy jump into the pool from the second story balcony, let’s take a moment to remember what happened last summer.
Non-combat injuries create more of an ongoing threat to the health and readiness of our US Armed Forces than any other medical condition—both in peacetime and in combat. Every year, more than half a million service members seek medical attention for their injuries.1, 2 What’s worse: according to the Naval Safety Center, between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2013, 16 Sailors and 10 Marines lost their lives in accidents, five of which were alcohol related. 2
Losing a fellow service member is tragic – but not learning from his/her mistake and losing another, is worse. Part of being in the Navy and Marine Corps is leading, even when you’re off duty. If your friends are making bad decisions, it’s your duty to let them know. The good news is there are some really easy rules of thumb to keep you and your friends safe this summer.
One of the smartest things you can do to keep yourself and others safe from injury and accidents is to drink responsibly − and to make sure your friends do the same. You can start by taking the Keep What You've Earned pledge to drink responsibly this summer. This second annual “Play to Live, Live to Play” summer pledge asks you to commit to at least one responsible behavior over the next 101 days of summer: 1. Plan ahead for a safe ride home, 2. Don’t try to “keep up” with others, and 3. Know your limit for alcohol before you reach it, in addition to any other responsible drinking habits you’d like to commit to.
Other tips to help you drink responsibly:
Once you’ve committed to drinking responsibly this summer, talk to your buddies about doing the same. Talking to someone about how much they drink can be touchy. Doing it successfully starts with knowing what to say, and what not to say. Take a look at Military Pathways’ blog post “You Drink Too Much” for some tips that work.
A fun alternative to drinking is, of course, sports. However, make sure you play nice! According to the Naval Safety Center3, last summer, the top five injury-producing activities for both the Navy and Marine Corps were:
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should rule these activities out. Some general tips for preventing sports injuries include:
For additional tips on preventing fitness and sports injuries visit the Navy Operational Fitness & Fueling System (NOFFS) page or STOP Sports Injuries.
Staying safe this summer doesn’t have to mean curbing your fun, or a drastic change to your lifestyle. It’s the little things that can save a career… or a life.
Before you head out this summer check out some of these additional resources and tips for staying safe and injury free:
1. U.S. Army Medical Surveillance Activity. Estimates of Absolute and Relative Health Care Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005. Medical Surveillance Monthly Report. 2006;12(3):2-23.
2. Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013. The Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, Annual Summary Issue. 2014; 21(4): 4.
3. Naval Safety Center. Summer 2014 Safety Presentation. http://www.public.navy.mil/comnavsafecen/Documents/presentations/seasonal/Summer_2014.pptx. Published March 2014. Accessed 9 April 2014.
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