When it comes to safety, remember the three “Ds”

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With the 101 Critical Days of Summer rapidly approaching and the recent (and on-going) severe weather throughout our part of the country, safety should be on everyone's mind. I feel obliged to share a few basic thoughts on safety that might prove useful.

These by no means are earth-shattering concepts, but rather simple philosophical safety categories passed on to me from a former commander that have stood the test of time in helping steer me, my family, and my fellow Airmen clear of harm.

They are referred to simply as the three "Ds" - dumb, dangerous and different. I regularly stress these three "Ds" to my squadron as safety truths to be held self-evident. No matter what the circumstance or activity, it's merely a matter of recognizing and simplistically categorizing what's involved, planning to minimize or negate risks and taking (or not taking) action accordingly.

First there's dumb. Not meaning to insult anyone's intelligence, but this word is intentionally chosen to remind us that there are some things that just simply should never be attempted. Driving under the influence is one that should immediately register as such, with boating under the influence considered in the same manner. Another "D" that I can't claim the rights to but is synonymous with "Dumb" is the Darwin Awards, which I believe many of you may have seen or read about. These are completely incomprehensible unsafe actions voluntarily taken by humans that resulted in fatal or seriously injured consequences - these speak for themselves. Recognize and avoid the "Dumb."

Next is dangerous. While numerous professions and recreational activities are inherently dangerous, seasoned professionals and participants repeatedly train for specific situations, events and circumstances to ensure technical competency and preparedness vice throwing their safety to pure chance. I'm all for having a dangerous job, going parachuting and pursuing other potentially dangerous hobbies, but only once I've been appropriately trained and know I'm fully prepared to successfully conquer what's involved.

Also, living in West Texas exposes us to many natural seasonal hazards such as flash floods and tornados with potentially disastrous affects. Training and discipline are the hallmarks of safety preparedness and serve as excellent tools for us to utilize in practicing to handle dangerous situations. Seeking out and heeding weather warnings, identifying and knowing physically safe areas where you work and live, maintaining ample stores of emergency food and water, and practicing appropriate drills are all vital preparations before any natural disaster occurs.

One final "dangerous" example that is not often considered as such but has tremendous fatal consequences is driving while exhausted. Unfortunately, numerous Americans perish each year as a result of falling asleep at the wheel while driving on long permanent change of station or leave journeys. For those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that graduate here each month, you need to make conscious driving travel plans to rest and prepare accordingly and to drive within your physical limits to arrive alive at your next duty assignments.

Last, but just as equally significant as the other two "Ds," is different. Whenever venturing outside our everyday or familiar routines or activities, we shouldn't become complacent and let our guard down assuming there are no safety risks involved. I'm all for spontaneity, but not at the expense of longer term health and happiness. For example, just because someone knows how to ride a bicycle doesn't mean they also know how to ride a motorcycle. Similarly, knowing how to safely ride a smaller engine motorcycle doesn't equate to instant success in knowing how to safely ride a larger engine motorcycle. Therefore, appropriate training is of the utmost importance to practice and demonstrate capability to handle the increased power.

In light of increasing gas prices, I'm presently weighing the benefits of better fuel economy against the risks of my own inexperience yet readily available training in considering the purchase of a motorcycle. Lastly, change of fitness routine or participation in an unfamiliar athletic event could pose dangerous consequences that we otherwise might not recognize as apparent.

Do your research in learning about what's involved, stretch and get the appropriate gear. For anyone considering running in a marathon this year that may or may not have run one before, you need to start appropriate training now.

Fortunately a group has recently formed here in San Angelo that's preparing to run the Air Force Marathon this Fall - great support system to get you safely on your way to your goal.

Obviously, this short commentary only scratched the surface of the numerous kinds of situations we encounter either by choice or circumstance that we have to make safety minded decisions on.

Hopefully these three "Ds" struck a cord in your own recognition and categorization of risks and how to best address and prepare for your own safety and that of others. In fact I challenge everyone to add more "Ds" in adopting this and taking ownership of your personal safety.

Safety is a culture and relies upon everyone to stay on their game. Don't fall prey to being a victim of your own doing - you are far too important and smart to leave safety to chance.