(NNS) -- Labor Day marked the traditional end of summer for Sailors and Marines and also the end of the Naval Safety Center's (NSC) annual summer safety campaign, "Live to Play, Play to Live."
Although mishap reports for the long weekend are not complete, it appears that both the Navy and Marine Corps enjoyed the safest summer since NSC started keeping these statistics.
However, that still means that 14 Sailors and 14 Marines lost their lives between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Nonetheless, this is a considerable improvement from 2009, when 39 Sailors and Marines lost their lives during the same period.
While that is an achievement to be proud of, NSC is not declaring victory, especially in light of the fact that one Sailor and one Marine died during Labor Day weekend. Mishap reports indicate that both deaths may be related to alcohol.
"There have been a lot fewer cases of DUI (drinking under the influence)," said NSC Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Dominick Torchia. "However, there may be some complacency about the dangers of over-consumption in general. We're seeing cases of Sailors and Marines basically drinking themselves to death."
While most people seem to be getting the message about designated drivers and safe ride programs, leaders need to continue educating their Sailors and Marines about the health risks of alcohol, including alcohol poisoning and reduced inhibitions that may lead to risky behavior, said Torchia.
Although the summer 2010 has ended, Torchia urged renewed focus on risk management, so the positive mishap trends of the summer will continue into the cooler seasons.
"Many of the risks are actually the same," said Torchia. "There are just different conditions. We think of people traveling for their summer vacations, but they are also on the road for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The folks who are out there participating in summer sports will probably also take part in winter sports. We ask them to take the same risk management mentality and adapt it to the new conditions."
To that end, Torchia recommends "winterizing" homes and vehicles now, rather than waiting until weather conditions deteriorate. He also encourages everyone to get in shape now for winter sporting activities such as skiing, snowboarding or even football.
"Prepare and train before you go out and try something like that. If you haven't skied before, take a course before you hit the slopes," said Torchia.
While many risks remain consistent through all four seasons, fire dangers do escalate in fall and winter, due to faulty heating systems, unsupervised fireplaces and dangerous space heaters.
"Now is the time to prepare your home. Weatherproof your house and have annual maintenance performed on your fireplaces and heating systems," Torchia said. "Doing this now will keep you ahead of the game."
While Sailors and Marines prepare for fall and winter, he also warned them to continue being vigilant about hurricanes. The East Coast of the United States was recently spared when Hurricane Earl remained off the coast, but the season runs through November 2010, and Torchia encouraged everyone to stay on guard against these dangerous storms.
He also pointed out that a new school year is underway and drivers should pay special attention for kids who might dart out into the street.
For more information about fall and winter safety, visit www.safetycenter.navy.mil.
For more news from Naval Safety Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsc/