12/03/2012 | By Chris Black Safety Office, 108th Training Command (IET)
Effective planning and preparation will ensure you and your Family are prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store for us this year. Always plan and prepare for the worst weather conditions possible in your area. Ensure during the fall, you have your vehicle serviced, radiator inspected, fluids levels checked and wipers and tires checked for serviceability. Since many members of the command live in challenging winter climates, ensure you put a Winter Survival Kit in your car that includes blankets, water, food, warm clothes to include hat and gloves, first aid kit, waterproof matches, ice scraper, booster cables, sand or kitty litter, shovel, flashlight, emergency road kit, can of Fix-A-Flat, and reflective vest. In addition, always keep the tank full to reduce condensation and possible ice in the tank or fuel line. Preparation in the fall and early winter could be a lifesaver if the unthinkable breakdown or traffic delay occurs.
Driving can be a serious challenge as we enter the winter months. Remember as the weather gets colder, ice and snow will critically impact your daily commutes and weekend travels. When dealing with ice and snow remember to decrease speed and leave plenty of room for stopping. Always wear your seat belt and keep your headlights and windshield clean. Remove excessive snow or ice before starting your commute or trip. Plan your trip ahead; let someone know your route and when you arrive safely. Use Travel Risk Planning System (TRiPs) at hppts://safety.army.mil to include your supervisor in your travel planning. In addition, watch the weather to ensure your route is clear and no major winter storms are approaching that could impact your outing. Remember to be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads which will freeze first as conditions turn icy. Finally, reduce your speed to conditions and drive defensively.
The winter months are full of holidays that create opportunities for us to drink socially and gather with friends. Remember to assess your situation before heading out and identify options for getting home safely. Designate a non-drinking friend and give them the keys, pre-arrange a taxi service or have the number of a local cab company programmed in your phone. Always use the buddy system and remember to rotate the designated driver throughout the holiday seasons. When throwing a party, plan ahead and be a responsible host. Ensure guests leave sober or with a sober designated driver or call a cab for your guests without a ride. If you are out on your own and know you are drinking, stay with the host until you have sobered up or call a friend or taxi for a safe ride. Driving after drinking is not an option and is an extremely risky behavior that can have adverse consequences for everyone involved. Be honest with yourself and remember that even a slight “buzz” can significantly weaken your perception and abilities.
In addition, statistics clearly illustrate that home fires increase during the holidays and winter season due to lack of attention and failure to follow basic safety practices. Establish a fire escape plan for your home with two exits and conduct fire drills with your Family. Ensure everyone knows how and when to use a fire extinguisher and keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Never leave items cooking on the stove unattended in the kitchen. When cooking with a deep fryer review safety precautions before getting started or lighting the burner. Check fire alarms and install Carbon Monoxide detectors in your home and have your heating system inspected annually to ensure it is operating correctly. Remember to include fire prevention in all your holiday plans and activities.
Finally, due to reduced visibility and the challenging driving conditions winter weather can create; we must maintain situational awareness as pedestrians. When out walking around remember to apply the following pedestrian safety tips to avoid becoming a statistic. It is important to never assume drivers can see you or will be able to stop. Always make eye contact with the driver to ensure they see you. “Look before you leap” and please do not take a walk signal or a crosswalk for granted. Look both ways to ensure everyone is stopping for you because crossing safely is your responsibility.
Hopefully these winter safety tips are helpful in allowing you to work and play safe this winter. For additional information on winter safety visit http://www.army.mil.