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101 Critical Days: Planning, caution needed when it comes to extreme sports

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Extreme sports, such as bungee jumping, parasailing and sky diving (see more in the list below) have become more popular among Airmen in recent years.

For many Airmen, the lure of extreme sports correlates to some of the same reasons for joining the Air Force. The common personality traits include spontaneity, excitement-seeking, and risk-taking. Some of us need to get a little adrenaline pumping every now and again and the thrill of many of these activities fulfills that need. They are called extreme for a reason and must be approached with an abundance of caution and risk management techniques.

As you begin to plan for your extreme sport adventure, be sure to consider how well you know yourself and your limitations. Overcoming personal challenges can be empowering but should not be done at the expense of your health and well being.

Next, make sure the equipment you are using is properly cared for and properly used. Seek professional training when trying an extreme sport for the first time. If you take equipment out of storage after a long period of disuse, check it for wear and tear; be sure to perform any necessary maintenance; and do not hesitate to replace older equipment.

The final consideration should be the checklists that can be found in the Air Force's High Risk Activity Program in AFI91-202. Attachment 12 of this AFI provides explicit guidance for high risk activities the use of AF Form 4391, High-Risk Activities is to be used for documentation. The High Risk Program should be used as part of risk management techniques.

Some high-risk activities include: all-terrain vehicle use, auto racing, backcountry skiing/snowshoeing, boating, bungee jumping, civil helicopter flying, civil light aircraft flying, dirt biking, experimental aircraft flying, hot air ballooning, hunting, jet skiing/personal water craft use, kayaking/canoeing, motorcycle racing, mountain climbing/rappelling, parasailing, rodeo activities, scuba diving, ski jumping (snow), sky diving, snowmobiling, soaring, ultralight aircraft/powered parachute, white water rafting.

Additional information for extreme sports enthusiasts can be found online at:
· http://www.buzzle.com/articles/preventing-extreme-sports-injuries.html
· http://www.grreporter.info/en/when_extreme_sports_are_safe/3117
· http://www.funsporting.com/NEWS/Trends/Extreme_Sport_Injuries.htm

Senior Airman James Engleman, a member of the Airman-to-Airman Safety Advisory Council, experienced an ATV mishap. To see his story and others like it or to contact an A2A member, visit www.af.mil/specials/AirmantoAirman/index .html or contact your major command A2A POC, which can be found on the A2A site under "Contact Us."