CAMP BUTLER, Okinawa - Living on a subtropical island allows for summer activities to take place throughout the year, so letting your guard down as the fall season approaches could lead to injuries or worse.
Labor Day weekend marks the conclusion of the 2013 Critical Days of Summer campaign, but it is important to remember being safe is a year-round responsibility.
Ensure you use personal risk management throughout the year prior to participating in an activity, especially a new activity. Identifying potential hazards prior to participation can help eliminate or reduce dangers and mishaps.
The challenge of preventing a mishap is actively identifying and addressing the risks factors before the accident occurs. If something does not look or feel right, stop and assess the situation and determine the best course of action to prevent an accident from happening.
Always wear the proper protective equipment associated with an activity to address risks and enjoy all Okinawa has to offer safely and responsibility.
And though summer on Okinawa is coming to an end, the hot weather will remain. Staying properly hydrated is very important as the temperature and humidity remain high for the majority of the year. Staying hydrated lays the foundation for preventing most heat-related injuries.
Those trying to escape the heat may realize that beaches, which were fully staffed with lifeguards during the summer, may change to “swim at your own risk” during the off-season. Couple this with the possible sea state changing to more treacherous conditions in the fall and winter months, and this leads to increased risks to those partaking in water activities.
Have a plan before going out and participating in activities like scuba diving. One easy way to minimize risks is to ensure you have a dive partner. Another risk mitigation practice is to let someone know where you are at all times by maintaining clear lines of communication. This could include staying in cell phone range in case you need to call for help.
It is also important to remember that typhoon season does not officially end until Nov. 30. You should remain prepared throughout the season with a typhoon preparation kit that includes food, water, flashlights, batteries, basic hygiene items and whatever else you need to make it through several days without leaving your residence because a typhoon could make landfall within 72 hours of any given time.
Although the Critical Days of Summer campaign is ending, the spirit of safety needs to continue. Pay close attention to changes in your surroundings during the transition in seasons. Remember, children are back in school so slow down, obey the posted speed limits, be observant for stopping buses, and watch for children crossing the street.
Continue taking care of yourself and look out for the welfare of those around you by actively considering risks and how to reduce the probability and severity of a mishap. Remember, it is important to ensure you are staying safe throughout the year.