By MC3 Diana Quinlan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii
Military leaders and safety personnel stress that it is important for all service members and their families to always keep safety in mind while enjoying summer activities.
Despite the great opportunities for activities and summer-related fun, Command Master Chief John P. Ullery, Navy Region Hawaii, emphasized the importance of maintaining safety.
“Living in Hawaii, we are fortunate to be able to participate in many outside activities year round from hiking, camping, numerous water sports and other events,” Ullery said.
“For those who enjoy hiking trips unseen dangers can occur. Trails become very slick when wet. Stay on marked trails; a couple of steps off could be a couple hundred feet drop.”
“Wear proper footwear. For water sport activities obey posted signs and talk to the lifeguards. They may know something particular about that location,” Ullery added.
Ullery said the importance of making proper decisions and knowing personal limits when spending time outdoors and with friends or family is of paramount importance. Arrogance, peer pressure or inability to perceive potential danger may lead to disasters.
“Different people have different skill levels at sports. Someone who is an expert hiker may not swim well and vice versa. For those that are experienced, be on the lookout for possible obstacles, keep your head on a swivel, obey posted signs, and listen to those posted for safety purposes,” Ullery said.
“Don’t let peer pressure get you into a situation that you are not trained and conditioned for. Too often, people feel they can complete an event only to have others come to their aid. You may become a statistic. We need everyone out there today in order to complete our mission.”
For military members who want to enjoy many of the activities that the Hawaii summer has to offer, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) provides many options, packages and information as well as classes and training.
“Here at MWR we provide a lot of outdoor activities if you are not comfortable doing it by yourself,” said Kyle Candilasa, MWR outdoor recreation specialist at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor-Hickam.
“We provide kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, surfing lessons and mountain biking just from this office alone. There are also marinas that provide sailing lessons, diving and spear fishing, fishing and kayak-fishing.
“If you are not comfortable going by yourself because you are new to the island, we are a good place to go to for resources, safety information, best places to visit and many other activities as Hawaiian weather is perfect for outdoor activities year-round.”
Candilasa reiterated the importance of safety and staying vigilant in outdoors conditions. He pointed out how often the weather can change in the islands with unexpected rains, which can strand hikers or cause flash floods. Strong winds and strong currents in the water can make it important to be aware when spending time at the ocean kayaking, swimming, surfing or snorkeling.
Candilasa’s advice includes checking the news before doing any outdoors activities, knowing the weather conditions ahead of time including winds, precipitation and UV ratings.
“No matter how overcast and cloudy it may be, UV rays pass through and can be damaging to the skin in the long run,” Candilasa said. “Always apply sunscreen, reapplying one to two hours after the initial application.”
“If hiking, things to bring are a medical kit, water and emergency supplies in case it gets dark or in case of heavy rains as well as having a fully charged cell phone,” he said. “For kayaking always have a life vest. You may think you’re a great swimmer, but you never know. It’s always good to have some type of floatation device.”
Sailors stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam spoke about their personal experiences involving other military members and the necessity of looking out for one another both on duty and off.
“Hydrating is also very important. People neglect that fact and it causes health problems. Many accidents also happen due to alcohol consumption and peer pressure. The worst I’ve seen happened in Guam, where a Sailor died in a cliff diving accident and alcohol was involved,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Dominic Tenn, stationed aboard Los Angeles-class submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715).
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Andiria Gerovac of Naval Health Clinic Hawaii recommends doing research. While it is fun to discover new areas and new locations, obtaining information about these places helps make for a safe and enjoyable time.
“Absolutely know this land and your surroundings before you do events like cliff diving and base jumping,” Gerovac said.