Annual safety campaign to kick off with Wingman Day Published May 15, 2008 By Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AB, Japan -- Air Force members are preparing to enter the highest risk period for fatalities and injuries this year and base leaders want to ensure that Airmen and their families are keeping safety at the forefront of everything they do. The 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign which runs from May 23 until Sept. 2, marks a period of increased risk taking and participation in outdoor activities that can result in mishaps due poor decision making and judgment. Air Force leaders urge all Airmen and their families to remain extra vigilant about safety this summer. "This year we are focused on traffic safety, scuba diving, and sports injuries," said Tech. Sgt. Mark Hazelbaker, 18th Wing weapons safety manager. "This is the season every year the Air Force loses a majority of its people due to high-risk activities." The 18th Wing has designated May 22 as Wingman day and all squadrons are encouraged to establish a one-hour briefing related to risk prevention during recreational activities, he added. The campaign was established in the early 1970's as a way to reduce the large number of Air Force off-duty fatalities in the summer. Statistics show this period to have an increase in mishaps both on and off-duty. The 101 Critical Days of Summer is one of the most costly time periods in terms of fatal mishaps. Males between 19 and 25 years of age are considered the major "at risk" population comprising 53 percent of fatalities. "It's all about prevention," said Sergeant Hazelbaker. "We are relying on Team Kadena to enforce simple known rules that can reduce mishaps." The Air Force is mission-oriented and the job must be done first, said Staff Sgt. John Crumbley, 18th Wing ground safety NCO. "People should understand that it's alright to have fun, but they need to play it safe," he said. This year wing safety and the 18th Security Forces Squadron will focus on driving safety, including use of seatbelts, speeding and helmet wear by motorcycle and bicycle riders. It is critical to know the dangers during this time of the year, said Tech. Sgt. Dan Relfe, 18th Wing ground safety craftsman. "Mishaps and fatalities increase during on and off-duty," he said. "But they can be prevented by planning ahead, having a wingman, and driving carefully."