Hey, Y’all. Watch This!

  • Published
  • By Jim Hammonds
  • 30th Space Wing Ground Safety Office
Those are words that should strike terror in anyone hearing them! "Hey y'all. Watch this!" or similar phrases are usually followed by some extraordinary feat of skill or extraordinarily dangerous, and not well-thought-out stunt that frequently ends in a quick ride to the hospital or slow ride to the morgue. This is especially true when the utterance is preceded by prolonged consumption of C2H5OH, otherwise known as ethyl alcohol, or simply, "booze!"

Summertime is great for getting out and letting loose. For the majority of Americans it means vacation time. A chance to get away from the grind of work, whatever that may be, and to get involved with more physical pursuits. Whether your inclinations are toward water sports, traveling to adventurous destinations, camping in the great outdoors, hiking the back trails, theme parks, or whatever diversions you have been looking forward to all year, it's a time for fun and relaxation.

Many times our vacation activities will involve new challenges and activities. Is this the year you decide to take up sky-diving? Or is rock climbing beckoning to you? Para-sailing is available in the near vicinity. Mountain biking can involve speed, coordination and extreme physical activity. Motorcycling definitely is better in the summertime, whether on-road or motor cross. Boating and water skiing are made for the hot days of summer. There are numerous extreme sports to fill anyone's summer vacation.

People enjoy all of these sports and activities and do them safely. The difference between extreme sports and extreme visits to the emergency room can be the level of instruction or training one obtains, or in the usage of appropriate equipment, especially personal protective equipment. Whatever activity you decide to pursue, it is absolutely essential to learn how to do it properly. Whatever the sport, there are experts who can teach you the correct, and safe, method of learning the activity. You can gain the practice and experience needed to fully enjoy the activity if you start with the basics and build up your skills before trying to be too extreme.

Each sport or leisure activity has specific protective equipment which is necessary to fully enjoy it while still preventing unnecessary injury. Whether it is personal floatation devices for water sports, leathers and a good-quality helmet for motorcycling, or harnesses and good quality carabineers for rock/mountain climbing, you need to know which gear is needed in order to fully enjoy your activity.

The "Wingman Concept" is just as important when participating in off-duty activities as it is in performing your duty activities. Find a trusted friend who has legitimate experience in the sport you are seeking to learn (Make sure s/he is actually experienced in it and not just talking big). Use your wingman as a mentor to explain all that is necessary to successfully participate in your new sport. Make sure to tell him/her your actual experience, or lack thereof, so s/he knows at what level to begin the training.

If you don't have a wingman who has sufficient experience to act as a learning guide for you, find a school or association that accepts novices. Bring your "somewhat knowledgeable" wingman along so you can both benefit from the training and be prepared to enjoy the activity on future occasions.

If you plan on consuming any alcoholic beverages (of course, only if you're 21 years-old or older), remember to save them for after the activities are done for the day. While the booze might provide you with some "liquid courage," it will definitely not aid in your coordination or judgment. Drinking and (fill in the blank) don't mix!

If you don't take the time to practice what is stated above, then be prepared to "learn" by closely observing the possibly somewhat intoxicated, self-described expert as he or she exclaims loudly, "Hey y'all. Watch this!" Of course, if you use this method for learning your summertime activities, there are a few items you need to bring along. First of all, a good cell phone, fully charged, with 911 on speed-dial. You'll also need a very fully stocked first aid kit with plenty of bandages, compresses, possibly a tourniquet or two and a very large (6' long) heavy-duty plastic bag.