Outdoor high adventure activities are often filled with fun exhilarating experiences and sometimes with potential risks and life-threatening dangers. Risk is one aspect of the outdoor activity that creates adventure; however, too much risk can move the activity from adventure to serious injury or even death. Human interaction or lack of action is often a significant reason for resulting injury. The most insidious type of risk is the one that may not initially be apparent.
Typically injury incidents do not occur in one unforeseen immediate event; rather incidents generally occur by following a series of actions referred to as the chain of causation. Break the chain anywhere before an accident and usually the accident and resultant injury can be avoided.
But how can the chain be broken? In some instances the danger is very apparent. For example—there are fewer fatal auto accidents when weather conditions are at their worst and highways are most dangerous, as compared to when weather conditions are good. Drivers are more careful precisely because the dangers are so immediately apparent. That does not mean we tempt fate by only doing our driving when weather conditions are lousy. The key then is to develop a technique to determine risk when those risks are not directly readily apparent. One way to meet this objective is by developing and implementing the “Safety Moment.”
Many industries use the Safety Moment to help identify and understand risks which may confront the business at any given time. For example, the Halliburton Company has developed a whole series of Safety Moment discussion topics. In one such Safety Moment there are discussion items before going on an auto trip for the company, including letting people know where you are going, checking the weather, road conditions, what to do if the vehicle becomes disabled, and above all how to prevent distracted driving.
The Safety Moment can be a brief discussion on safety-related topics prior to beginning an activity. For instance, a Safety Moment taken before driving to the trailhead of a hike might include a discussion about wearing seat belts, following traffic laws, or watching for drowsy and distracted drivers. Once at the trailhead another Safety Moment might be appropriate for specific risks related to the hike, such as preventing falls, using the buddy system to keep any of the group from getting lost, keeping hydrated, watching for uneven trails that can cause twisted ankles, and not throwing objects down the mountain side. If the ultimate destination is the lake, another Safety Moment regarding water safety would be appropriate.
The Safety Moment can be a quick two-to five-minute discussion before beginning an activity to specifically discuss the risks and potential safety concerns for that activity, as well as ways to reduce the risks or hazards. The more specific the Safety Moment is to the particular activity, the better. While planning for an activity include a Safety Moment as part of the plan. A Safety Moment in the early planning stage could include pictures or even videos demonstrating safety.
Ready to get started? Not sure how to build a list of Safety Moment discussion topics? A great place to start is by reviewing the Guide to Safe Scouting. The experience contained there is gathered from over 100 years of Scouting and innumerable outdoor adventures. Another excellent source of helpful ideas is found at safety.lds.org. Both of these resources contain excellent reminders of potential risks confronted by the activity and what actions can be taken to mitigate the risks. Perhaps one of the most important times for a Safety Moment is when events alter the original activity plan—the unraveling of the plan. Taking a moment to think about tasks or acts you are about to perform, and then asking the question “Is it really safe to carry on” can often break the causation chain well before an emergency arises. Using your youth to help identify risks as part of the Safety Moment discussion is another way to engage the youth to ensure their active participation in safety. By using the Safety Moment not only will you be training yourself but you will train your young men, especially for those times when neither you nor their parents are there to encourage safe behavior.
Find more great safety tips at http://safety.lds.org