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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2010

Safety Principles, Written in Blood

By Col. Kenneth Rizer 316th Wing

The tragic loss of a Defender this week in a motorcycle accident, along with slight upticks of other sports and recreation-related injuries, remind us of the need to maintain safety vigilance. While only two weeks remain of the "101 critical days of summer," these two weeks are traditionally the period when we have the most safety incidents. As we approach this high-threat period, I encourage all of you to think like a combat pilot.

As a combat pilot, I learned early on to "know the threat" and "know yourself." Knowing the threat means understanding what the enemy can do to shoot you down or prevent you from accomplishing your mission. Knowing yourself means understanding your own limitations and capabilities. By combining knowledge of the threat and oneself, combat pilots create tactics, techniques and procedures to survive and accomplish their missions. Such tactics, techniques and procedures become time-worn principles passed down to succeeding generations. An example is, "Never do a second pass on a heavily defended target," which is a principle written in blood.

Just as combat pilots throughout the ages applied "know the threat" and "know yourself" to create time-worn principles, we can do the same to create safety principles for everyday life. This isn't rocket science, but any review of safety statistics shows that adhering to the following 10 principles greatly increases your chances of surviving to accomplish your mission in life, whatever it may be:

1) Stay off the roads late at night, when drunks are likely to be out in force.

2) Never text while driving; use a hands-free device when speaking on your phone in the car.

3) Hydrate & use sunscreen when outside for long periods.

4) If old enough to do so, drink in moderation but never drink and operate machinery.

5) If operating a boat, ATV, or motorcycle, have appropriate training, licensing, and gear.

6) Avoid excessive speed while driving.

7) Grill away from flammable structures; never pour lighter fluid on hot coals.

8) Maintain your motor vehicles

9) Slow down and increase following distance in inclement weather.

10) Avoid driving when tired.

Enjoy your last bit of summer, but do so safely. You and your mission are too important to jeopardize by violating the principles above. Like our combat principles, these everyday safety principles are written in blood.