Skip to main content

Military Health System

Safety Briefs: Don't be Boring and Use Real Examples

Image of Marines receiving a safety brief. Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit receive a safety brief from the MEU commander while deployed to the Asia-Pacific region. Safety briefs serve as important reminders for all Service members to be mindful while enjoying their time off (Photo by: Army.mil).

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

How do you craft an effective safety brief?

It's not easy. But it's a challenge that commanders and enlisted leaders face all the time, as they try to warn troops about potential problems and discourage avoidable accidents and injuries before they happen.

Humor usually helps to keep the attention of young service members. Try to cite real world examples that illustrate risks. And don’t hesitate to invoke the higher calling and military values that drew many young people into military service in the first place.

Those are some tips from two Marines - Capt. Brenden McDaniel and 1st Sgt. Esperanza Fuentes, the leaders of Bravo Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina - who spoke to us recently about effective ways to resonate safety to young service members before they head out for a weekend of partying and recreation.

How does a leader make a safety brief both interesting and engaging

"I try to engage the Marines - not only give them real-world examples of things that have happened to Marines of mine, but I also try to make it funny," Fuentes said.

She said she often cites the example of one of her Marines who was at a barbeque and put too much lighter fluid on the grill and ended up singeing off his eyebrows.

"It keeps it funny and it's relatable," said Fuentes. "These Marines are young. Some of them are in their teens and early 20s. I have to make it relatable to everyone, but also remind them that, realistically, their choices have consequences."

Real-world examples can serve to convince potentially skeptical young service members that these things really do happen and are something they need to be aware of. While burning off ones' eyebrows may seem funny, it's a way of reminding people that failure to take the proper precautions may result in something far more serious, whether that be using too much lighter fluid or consuming too much alcohol.

"When they come back to work on Monday morning, their choices are going to have consequences, whether they're positive or negative," Fuentes said.

McDaniel explained that he tries to invoke some inspiration to make his Marines see the larger purpose of the safety briefs.

"When I'm crafting a safety brief, one of the most important things that I try to do is emphasize the Marine Corps ethos - specifically our core values of honor, courage and commitment. I try to engage the Marines, especially junior Marines, by reminding them that they volunteered because they wanted something better in their lives."

McDaniel said that it's up to them, personally and individually, to live up to that ethos and the high standards set forth by the Marine Corps to get what they want out of life.

"I use that, and then I tie it into our operational and training opportunities, upcoming volunteer, community and recreational events and try to engage them to get excited about doing something with their lives and their time that is in line with the goals we're trying to accomplish in the company and in the Marine Corps," McDaniel said.

Why are periodic safety briefs important?

McDaniel: "It gives us a chance, as leadership, to get our eyes on all of the Marines - their physical appearance, their demeanor - and it gives them a chance to see us. It gives us an opportunity to promote that culture of care."

Fuentes: "The main point, for me, is that the Marines see that their leadership is engaged with their safety and their well-being."

How did you conduct safety briefs in a COVID environment and are things transitioning back to "normal" yet?

McDaniel: "Last year, when COVID was hitting, we did change our tactics. Some sections offered dial-in safety briefs, where we would get accountability over the phone, give our safety brief, and have questions and answers. That way, we knew that all of the Marines were hearing us and had access to us to address any concerns."

McDaniel also said that when using technology wasn't an option, they broke the company down into smaller formations to keep physical contact to a minimum.

Fuentes: "Those formations that we were still having, we were applying COVID mitigation safety rules including making the Marines stand at 'COVID interval,' or two-arms-length distance away from each other, and they had masks on."

What are the main concerns this summer?

McDaniel: "My biggest concerns are water safety - when Marines, sailors, families are getting into the ocean. The other one is safe travel. If they're going over eight hours, we want them to find a hotel and stay somewhere overnight. We want them taking breaks every few hours on long road trips and we want them to put contact plans in place -they're calling and texting their chain of command and letting them know that they arrived safely and that everything's okay."

Fuentes added that her main concerns include alcohol consumption, hydration and COVID safety.

"Safety during the summer doesn't just affect you," she said. "It can come down to affecting your family, your readiness and the whole company's operational tempo. If we lose one Marine - that affects everyone."

McDaniel also added that he encourages his Marines to keep physical fitness in mind.

"Physical fitness is a cornerstone of the Marine Corps. It's essential for the success of our young Marines, but it's also so effective in managing stress," he said. "We're trying to make them turn it into a habit, where it's the norm for them to go to the gym, to get some extra miles in. These healthy habits are going to prove successful for them, not just in their time in the Marine Corps, but throughout their entire life."

You also may be interested in...

Out for a Bike Ride? Remember These Safety Tips

Article
10/11/2022
A safety officer overlooks bike riders on a street

Bike riding is a popular form of transportation, physical activity, and fun, but doing it safely is key.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Summer Safety | Winter Safety

Taking the stings out of summer fun

Article
8/15/2022
Beekeeper in protective gear holds framework with bees and honey..

What you should know and do about bee, wasp, and hornet stings

Recommended Content:

Vector-Borne Illnesses | Summer Safety | Public Health

Avoid summertime food poisoning with these easy tips

Article
8/12/2022
Someone cooking on a grill

Food safety in the summer is just as important as sunscreen

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Summer Water Safety Means: Know your Limitations

Article
8/10/2022
Military personnel participating in a swim call

Know your swimming rules and dangers

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

Article
7/7/2022
Start by creating a basic disaster emergency kit and create a plan to get back together as a family in the event of a disaster.

How to prepare for an evacuation affecting your family? Or even losing your home? Start by creating a basic disaster emergency kit and create a plan to get back together as a family in the event of a disaster.

Recommended Content:

Emergency Preparedness and Response | Disaster Prep Toolkit | Environmental Fitness | Summer Safety

Ask the Doc: Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion -- What's the Difference?

Article
6/27/2022
Heat exhaustion can rapidly progress to heat injuries like organ dysfunction or heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion can rapidly progress to heat injuries like organ dysfunction or heat stroke.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Heat Injuries | Ask The Doc

Tips for Enjoying Outdoor Activities as Summer Arrives

Article
6/27/2022
People biking on a trail in protective gear

Biking, paddle boarding, swimming, and hiking are good ways to get outside in nature in the summer.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Summer Safety

Doctors Recommend Sunscreen for All Skin Complexions

Article
6/13/2022
The dangers of too much sunlight – from sunspots to skin cancer – are real risks for everyone regardless of skin complexion, doctors say.

The dangers of too much sunlight – from sunspots to skin cancer – are real risks for everyone regardless of skin complexion, doctors say.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Summer Safety

Gearing Up: SERE Instructor Gives Tips for Hitting the Trail This Fall

Article
9/8/2021
Marines in civilian clothes hiking in mountains.

SERE instructor and Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Apolo Silva talks about some of the key things to keep in mind, as well as precautions you should take, before and during heading out into the wilderness this fall.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Plan your Float: Boating Safety Tips from the Coast Guard

Article
8/2/2021
Military personnel conducting boating safety patrols

Have a “Float Plan,” the Coast Guard says, when boating recreationally.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Old-School Summer Safety Risks: Sun, Water, Insects and Alcohol

Article
7/15/2021
Children sitting by the pool

A preventive medicine doctor talks about an array of summer-related safety concerns.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

MHS and MOS Town Hall To Your Health Summer Safety

Article
7/12/2021
Picture of Lt. Col. Christine Smetana

MHS and Military OneSource: To Your Health: Summer Safety Discussion with Lt. Col. Christine Smetana of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Warning: Fireworks Are Dangerous (and Can Be Traumatic for Some)

Article
7/2/2021
Picture of fireworks

Fireworks safety is no joke. Keep children away and watch for duds.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Think Sunscreen and Water for Summer Sun Safety

Article
6/16/2021
SPF written in sunblock on someone's arm

Sun safety tips to keep you aware and healthy

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Extreme Heat | Summer Safety Toolkit

Safety tips for the 101 critical days of summer

Article
6/3/2021
Food on a grill, a sparkler, and a child in a swimming pool

Summer safety is no accident. Tips for a safe 101 days of summer.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Extreme Heat | Summer Safety Toolkit
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 1
Refine your search
Last Updated: May 12, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery