'Tis the Season for Safety

  • Published
  • By Offutt's Safety Professionals
  • 55th Wing Safety Office
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Every year millions of Americans express their enthusiasm for the season by decorating their houses, illuminating their front lawns and exchanging gifts.
Even though many of us have extremely crammed schedules this time of year, getting to our destination is only half the battle. Remember, this is a season that introduces some increased risks to our Airmen and their families.

Activities such as winter weather driving, road trips, hanging Christmas lights, and cooking holiday feasts are considered fun by most, but they also expose us to hazardous situations.

With a bit of planning, Wingman support and risk management, the dangers in these situations can be easily avoided or limited.

Every year, serious mishaps ruin Christmas for some families. Most of these mishaps could have been prevented if safety precautions or risk assessments were put in place.
Please remember that in addition to the spirit of the Christmas season, safety is paramount.

Below are some important and useful safety tips for this wonderful time. May it be a safe and joyous occasion for all and from all of us here at the 55th Wing Safety office, merry Christmas and happy new year!

Holiday Cooking Safety:
 Wash your hands! Hand washing, with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food, is the single most important way to prevent the spread of disease.
 When cooking, do not wear loose fitting clothing.
 Always turn pot handles so they don't hang over the edge of the stove.
 Don't store flammable items on the stovetop as they could catch fire.
 Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn them off after use.

Holiday Travel:
 Remember, the heaviest travel occurs the days immediately before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
 Have an itinerary and tell someone your intended route.
 Give yourself adequate time and preparation to avoid bad traffic.
 Fatigue can be deadly. Take breaks every two to three hours while driving.
 Have vehicles inspected before departing for road trips.
 Consider taking an extra day off so that you aren't stuck in the pack of travelers.
 Have a charged cell phone with you for emergencies.
 As always, remember to buckle up.
 For information on properly installing a car seat or to set up an appointment, email the Bellevue Police Department at carseats@bellevue.com.
 Don't text and drive. A study conducted by Virginia Tech Driving Institute revealed that people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
 Don't drive with bald or badly-worn tires.
 Check tire pressure regularly in all vehicles you drive.
 Slow down during heavy rain, and with snow, ice and storm water standing on the road.
 Do not use cruise control on wet or icy roads.
 If your car hydroplanes, remove your foot from the gas, and keep the steering steady.
 The 55th Wing cares about DUI's, but we care more about you! Be a good Wingman, intervene when necessary, and make the right call. Remember that OADD offers free rides when a plan falls through. Call 659-2233 (AADD) when a ride is needed.

Fire Safety:
 Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home and outside each bedroom.
 Test detectors at least once a month and replace batteries semi-annually.
 Buy a fire extinguisher and inspect it frequently.
 Place candles in a holder that will not tip and never leave candles unattended.
 Never place lit candles on your tree.
 Keep Christmas trees away from fireplaces, heaters and heat ducts.
 Keep live trees well-watered. Check the water level daily and fill with fresh water as necessary.
 If you are considering an artificial tree, make sure it is flame-retardant.
 Make sure that lights have a factory label which assures it has been safety tested.
 Position bulbs so they are not in contact with needles or ornaments.
 Keep cords and plugs away from the water under the tree.
 Don't use your fireplace to burn wrapping materials. These materials can create toxic fumes or even cause a flash fire.
 Don't wear loose clothes when tending fires.
 Don't close the chimney flue until the fire is completely out.
 Dispose of ashes in a metal container and never in or near the house.

Child Safety:
 Ornaments that small children could mistake for candy should be placed high on the tree.
 Avoid using older ornaments that may be made with toxic materials such as lead-based paints.
 Avoid separating in crowds and shopping malls.
 Educate younger children: Remember, "Stranger Danger!"
 Children should look for someone in uniform like a security guard or policeman in emergencies.