June 28, 2011
By MG Michael S. Linnington
Fourth of July Holiday Safety Message from Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington commanding general.
“As we celebrate the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of a new era in American democracy, we recall the valor and vision of patriots from Thirteen Colonies who declared independence from a powerful empire and gave birth to a new Nation. The birth of the United States of America was not an easy one but was the result of hard work, struggle and bloodshed by the Americans who pursued independence from foreign rule. Today, men and women of our military continue to stand ready and proudly defend our freedom here and for others throughout the world. On our Nation’s birthday, as we come together in the enduring spirit of America, let us be grateful for the blessings that freedom represents and for the opportunities it affords.
“Safety remains our #1 priority. Commanders and leaders at every level must ensure Soldiers are briefed on the major safety concerns usually associated with the Fourth of July prior to being released for the holiday. The first is POV safety – to include prevention of motorcycle and automobile accidents. Leaders must stress the importance of not drinking and driving, speeding, driving while fatigued and the use of seat belts. Leader engagement is absolutely essential to ensuring all motorcycles are properly registered and requisite training has been completed. As you get ready to head down America’s roadways, I ask each of you to use the TRiPS online assessment tool, https://crcapps2.crc.army.mil/ako_auth/trips.
“Commanders and leaders must stress preventive measures for sunburn, heat injury, and also brief their Soldiers on water safety. Emphasize the potentially fatal consequences of not wearing life jackets and drinking alcohol while boating:
– Swim in supervised areas only.
– Obey all rules and posted signs.
– Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
– Summer means fun in the sun! But be safe –don’t let a heat-related illness ruin your day.
– Always drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks when working or playing in the hot weather.
– Have Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) readily available for everyone.
– Alcohol and boating do not mix. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination – over 50 percent of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol. For the same reasons it is dangerous to operate an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, people should not operate a boat while drinking alcohol.
– Develop a float plan. Anytime you go out in a boat, give a responsible person details about where you will be and how long you will be gone. This is important if the boat is delayed because of an emergency, becomes lost or encounters other problems, help should be able to reach you.
“Finally, commanders must ensure all assigned personnel know how to safely handle fireworks. Fireworks and celebrations go together, especially during the Fourth of July. But fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burns and eye injuries. Ensure the fireworks you are using are legal where you live. If you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
– Always read and follow label directions.
– Buy from reliable reputable retailers.
– Use outdoors only.
– Always have water handy.
– Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
– Light only one firework at a time.
– Never give fireworks to small children.
– Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15-20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
– Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trash can.
– Never throw or point fireworks in the direction of anyone.
– Always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
“Army safe is Army strong. I wish you all the best for a happy Fourth of July. Enjoy this holiday and the summer without unnecessary and unacceptable risks. Celebrate the birth of our nation with pride, but also with responsibility. Use common sense and sound decisions to make this a great holiday.”
MICHAEL S. LINNINGTON
Maj. Gen. U.S. Army