Think and save lives this summer

Terri Gareis
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern
prevention coordinator

This year’s Army “Summer Lifesaving Campaign” is underway. The Army Substance Abuse Program wants to remind Soldiers and civilians that summer is one of the most dangerous and deadliest times of the year.

Historically there is a significant jump in the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities, whether on the road, barbecuing in your backyard or while enjoying swimming and boating activities.

Beginning with Memorial Day and ending with Labor Day, increased alcohol use is common in our military community. Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day can all be a grim time for law enforcement personnel, emergency medical staff and friends and family members of alcohol-related accident victims. Safe cites the following statistics on their Web site:
• Alcoholics are five times more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents; 10 times more likely to be fire or burn victims and 16 times more likely to die in falls.
• 70 percent of attempted suicides involve alcohol and between 20 to 30 percent of suicide victims had a history of alcohol abuse or were drinking shortly before their suicides; 24 percent of successful suicides had a BAL of .10 or higher.
• 47 to 65 percent of adult drownings involve alcohol.
• 59 percent of fatal falls involve alcohol.

Let’s face it – people tend to make poor decisions while under the influence of alcohol and take risks they never would, if sober.

Whether heading to the beach, lake or mountains, to your favorite summer concert, ballpark or to a barbecue or picnic with friends, if you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a sober driver before you leave.

Drink lots of water during your activities to avoid dehydration and don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Have non-alcoholic drinks and snacks on hand. Avoid drinking games and “binging,” which means more than five drinks per occasion.

If you do become impaired, ask a sober friend for a ride home, use mass transit, call a cab or Armedforces Against Drunk Driving (489-2233 or 0631-536-2233).
Exhibit honorable behavior on and off duty.  Don’t be a substance abuser.