VIRGINIA BEACH, VA -- Sailors and marines are statistically more likely to be involved in a mishap when they’re off-duty during summer months, according to officials at the Safety Office at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA. Looking to prevent that, officials hosted “Hot Rods: Hazards of Recreational Off Duty Safety,” a program that taught sailors how to remain safe while enjoying summer recreational activities.

NAS Oceana Commanding Officer Capt. Patrick Lorge kicked off the session.

“When we go back and look at [a mishap], there’s always a kind of link that we can say, ‘Where could we have stopped that from happening?’” Lorge says.

The program at the theater was divided into off-duty hazards such as those associated with common summer activities, organized sports, water sports, riding all terrain vehicles, recreational parachuting, as well as a program on traffic safety.

Basketball was also a hot topic, as most in attendance did not realize it was a leading cause of injuries, especially to fingers, ankles, knees and shins. Paul Graveline, occupational health safety specialist for NAS Oceana, says many of those injuries could be prevented by using Occupational Risk Management (ORM), which includes walking the court and looking for hazards, by conducting proper warm-up and cool down exercises and avoiding alcohol while playing.

Commanding Officer Cmdr. Peter Matisoo hopes his sailors take much more than just one idea away from the presentations. He made the talk mandatory for his entire squadron.

“Every sailor is extremely valuable and you can’t put a price tag on that,” he says. “It’s always worth the investment, and I do consider it an investment to take the time, stop, pause and think about how we’re doing business. I just want our sailors to think and apply the same level of rigor, the same level of discipline to off-duty things as they do to on-duty things.”