NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- With the Fourth of July holiday weekend fast approaching, risk management professionals at Naval Safety Center (NSC) are reinforcing safety advice and risk management principles.
When the Independence Day holiday falls on a long weekend, there's an even greater risk for motor vehicle mishaps, said Stan Willingham, a safety and occupational health specialist at NSC.
Last year, two Sailors and three Marines were killed in motor vehicle accidents during the three-day July 4th holiday weekend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration predicts there will be approximately 300 highway deaths and 20,000 disabling injuries across the country this weekend.
"People are more likely to try to stretch the distances they travel on a three-day weekend," Willingham said, adding that fatigue often becomes a major risk factor.
"To me, fatigue means feeling tired," he said. "And if you feel tired you need to get off the road."
Alcohol is another factor that increases the risk of mishaps while driving, but it also makes many other recreational activities more dangerous.
"Alcohol mixes real well with Coke or 7-Up, but it doesn't mix with driving, or swimming, or lighting fireworks," Willingham said. "Make sure you designate a driver, and if you do drink, do it in moderation."
Fireworks are an activity many people associate with the Fourth of July holiday. However, Willingham said it's important to obey state and local laws, and to read the directions very carefully. Some items like sparklers, which many people believe are safe, cause major burns every year.
"Those suckers burn at about 1,800 degrees," Willingham said. "If you're going to give them to the kids, they need to be supervised."
Other recommendations for lighting fireworks include having a "designated shooter" who will not be consuming alcohol, having a designated area for lighting the fireworks, and keeping water or a fire extinguisher handy. Also, don't attempt to relight any "duds" that didn't go off.
While most Sailors and Marines successfully manage risk during holiday weekends, Marine Col. Mark Erb, Deputy Commander, Naval Safety Center, challenged everyone to look out for unsafe practices around them.
"Most of us do the right thing and manage risks for ourselves and our families. However, it's also important to think about what you'll do if you see another person engaging in high risk activities," he said. "What action will you take? What will you say? Do you have the courage to intervene?"
He encouraged everyone to participate in the activities they enjoy during the long weekend, and to take just a few minutes to think through all possible risks and ways to reduce or eliminate them.
"Sailors and Marines have earned the right to relax and enjoy the July 4th holiday weekend," Erb said. "But we need everyone to plan for success and exercise good judgment, so they can make it back to work Tuesday morning 100 percent mission capable."
For more news from Naval Safety Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsc/.