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Staying safe from Independence Day through the end of summer

Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. -- This Independence Day, people across the nation will gather to celebrate the holiday and enjoy summer, but safety concerns remain important, even during holidays. Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander, emphasizes the importance of avoiding the “five Ds” this summer: dumb, difficult, different, distracted and drunk. (Courtesy photo)

Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. -- This Independence Day, people across the nation will gather to celebrate the holiday and enjoy summer, but safety concerns remain important, even during holidays. Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander, emphasizes the importance of avoiding the “five Ds” this summer: dumb, difficult, different, distracted and drunk. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

This Independence Day marks the 243rd year since the founding fathers declared independence. People across the nation will gather to celebrate the holiday and enjoy summer. Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean basic safety concerns vanish. Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander, emphasizes the importance of avoiding the “five Ds” this summer: dumb, difficult, different, distracted and drunk.

 “While anti-terrorism and force protection efforts have impacted terrorist planning, the capability to execute deliberate and complex attacks against U.S. service members still exist,” said Timothy Omdal, 21st Security Forces Squadron deputy director. “Small scale operations and lone actor scenarios still remain the most viable options targeting special events such as Independence Day.”

Omdal noted that the greatest threat to Airmen and other DoD personnel on and around Independence Day is not terrorism, but random or opportunistic crimes: vehicle break-ins, pickpockets, robbery, assaults, and drunk and disorderly conduct. He said that it’s important for DoD personnel to avoid large concentrations of people. Omdal also stressed the importance of reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement, providing detail and doing so in a timely manner.

Airmen should note that fireworks are illegal anywhere on base or within Colorado Springs city limits. Derrick Grinnell, 21st Civil Engineering Squadron fire inspector, said that fans of fireworks should attend a commercial fireworks display.

“There are plenty of them around the area, and we have some great views that go with them,” said Grinnell.

Another popular way to celebrate is with a cookout or barbecue. The National Fire Protection Association reports that 70% of U.S. households own at least one outdoor barbecue, grill or smoker. NFPA also reported that grills start an average of 9,600 home fires per year. In 2018, 8,200 Americans went to the emergency room to be treated for burn injuries sustained while grilling.

“All grills no matter the type need to be at least 10 feet from any structure,” said Grinnell. “Make sure that, if it's a propane grill, you're checking your connections for the fuel. If you have any leaks, turn it off. If it continues, immediately call 911 and get the fire department out there to check it out.”

Omdal reported that a stable, clean grill is less likely to cause a mishap. Additionally, general awareness, safe clothing and a fire extinguisher are things no aspirant grill-master should be without. Those who have a charcoal grill should also take care with starter fluid.

The Fourth also makes for a tempting opportunity to enjoy Colorado’s natural splendor. Once again, Moore’s five Ds serve as a good starting place for planning outdoor activities. Omdal said it’s important to not hike or camp alone and to go with an emergency plan set in advance. Beyond that, basic first aid, hydration and sun protection are crucial for any outdoor activities. If there’s a campfire involved, fire safety once again becomes paramount for both personal safety and wildfire prevention.

“We recommend a 35-foot radius around the campfire area be clear of all combustibles,” Grinnell said. “Also, have a water extinguisher or a bucket of water or a hose ready to go in case something were to happen.”

Don’t leave a campfire unattended unless it’s completely out and cool to the touch. In on-base housing, fires are only allowed in commercial fire pits, according to Grinnell.

“Just remember safety is with everybody,” said Grinnell. “That's a key takeaway for children all the way up to our elderly. This is where we live. We want to keep it nice and keep a mindset of ‘let's try not to burn it down.’”

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