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Eleven fatalities cause for concern heading into Fourth of July weekend

  • Published
  • By Robbie Bogard
  • Air Education and Training Command Safety Directorate

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas-- The Department of the Air Force has lost 11 teammates to preventable mishaps since the kickoff of the 101 Critical Days of Summer began in late May. With the long Fourth of July weekend approaching, more members will be at increased risk.

Water-related mishaps lead the way in the Air Force’s summer fatalities with four, including one on-duty. That’s closely followed by three automobile and three motorcycle fatal accidents. And one Airman perished during an ATV mishap.

The American Automobile Association projects 50.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day weekend, setting a record for the holiday. Domestic travel over the long weekend will increase by 2.1 million people compared to 2022, the AAA predicts. This year’s projection surpasses the previous July 4 weekend record set in 2019 of 49 million travelers.

For purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Friday, June 30, to Tuesday, July 4. A record number of travelers throughout a five-day holiday period will pose heightened risk to Airmen and Guardians.   

Travelers can expect delays, traffic jams, distracted drivers and more. Traffic apps, local Department of Transportation notifications, and patience are key to minimizing holiday traffic frustrations. As for individual efforts, people should avoid distracted driving, driving while impaired, and driving while fatigued, three of the biggest factors in vehicle mishaps.

In addition to traffic safety concerns, fireworks dangers also become a focus as people celebrate the 4th.

According to the National Safety Council, fireworks are best left to the professionals. However, for those planning to use fireworks, the NSC offers the following tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Older children should use fireworks only under close adult supervision.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands.
  • Never light fireworks indoors.
  • Only use fireworks away from people, houses and flammable material.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Only light one firework at a time, and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
  • Never ignite devices in a container.
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish any fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.
  • Never use illegal fireworks.

Airmen and Guardians are encouraged to be good wingmen and help stop bad decisions or behavior that can lead to the next tragedy.