By John Reese
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
Editor’s note: Maranda Flynn, Fort Huachuca Safety Office, contributed to this story.
Since the days are long and hot, hazards and risks increase across the Army and injury-related statistics often rise.
Family barbecues, swimming, hiking, camping and boating are just some of the activities people like to engage in during the summer. Even in Baden Württemberg ‘s ever-changing climate of sunny hot and cool rainy days, water-related injuries increase during the summer.
“Injuries can be due to inexperience in a sport, boating or other activity, or by mixing alcohol with water operations,” said Anthony Edwards, safety officer, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Safety Office. “Swimming accidents can happen when people swim in areas where there is no lifeguard present or if they go swimming in non-designated areas. Accidents happen to people who can’t swim and who are not wearing flotation devices.”
Hot days in Germany and elsewhere (for training or leisure activities) account for a large amount of summer injuries. Edwards explained that the sun is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. but it is still harmful outside of that time span. He suggests wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect the eyes, head and neck, and lightweight clothing that covers the arms, legs and torso when spending long amounts of time in the sun.
“Heat injuries can also be caused due to cumulative days, two to three days, of being exposed to high temperatures,” Edwards added. “One way to avoid this is by ensuring you get plenty of rest the day before training or working outdoors and by trying not to work outdoors continuously.”
During any outdoor activity, drink lots of water. Monitor and enforce frequent hydration, according to the “Fluid Replacement and Work/Rest Guide” (see link above). Hydrate frequently, However, don’t exceed 1.5 quarts per hour.
Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages, especially when performing intense activity. These liquids make the body lose water and increase the risk of heat injuries. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.
The summer also brings an increase in wildlife and stinging insects, which should always be avoided. Deer were recently seen leaping across “Frog Road” (German highway K1055 between Panzer Kaserne and Patch Barracks), and wild boars are still around in significant numbers.
Anyone coming across wildlife close up should turn around and walk away from the animals – do not try to pick up any young wildlife because the mother is always close by.
“If hiking in the mountains, be properly outfitted and bring plenty of water,” Edwards said. “Be prepared to check yourself for ticks, especially when you’re in wooded areas and fields of tall grass.”
To report a safety hazard, call the garrison at Safety Hotline at 430-5472 or visit www.imcom-europe.army.mil/webs/sites/staff_org/safety/unsafe_conditions/index.html
For more information on summer safety or programs offered on post, contact the USAG Stuttgart Safety Office at one of 430-5472/5473/5471/5434.