Season brings safety to forefront

by Col. Leslie Smith
86th Airlift Wing vice commander

Now that the warm days of summer are quickly becoming a distant memory, the coolness of October reminds us it is time to start planning for a safe winter. As crazy as the weather can be here, it’s never too soon to make sure you’re ready.

One of the most important safety issues is winter driving. In Germany, road traffic laws require drivers to adjust car equipment for the weather conditions; this includes having snow or all-weather tires on their vehicles. Failure to do so can result in additional fines from the police. A well-equipped car ready for winter will also have antifreeze topped off, and at a minimum a windshield scraper, flashlight, blankets and a tool kit.

Safety isn’t just for the road; it’s also something to be mindful in the home. Winterizing your home not only makes it safer, but you can save money, too. You should have heating systems checked, seal any drafts and be mindful of the thermostat. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, but lower your utility bills.

October also marks a noticeable increase in hours of darkness. Airmen should break out their reflective belts and wear them during inclement weather and reduced visibility. This applies not only in uniform, but also during physical training. It’s not a fashion statement, but it is another way to make sure you’re seen by drivers.

Additionally, Ramstein is within a short drive of some of the best winter sports and outdoor activities anywhere. Before engaging in some winter fun, use good risk management and take appropriate safety precautions. Remember you can’t expect to be in late-season form the first day out on the ski slopes. Using the proper protective equipment, checking the condition of your gear and following good commonsense practices can reduce the potential for accidents and injuries.

Finally, you can’t think about October without Halloween. It’s a great time in the KMC, but I challenge you to make sure it’s safe for everyone. If you’re driving in areas where trick-or-treating is happening, especially on base, make sure you’re extra observant for kids who may be more interested in scoring more candy than their surroundings. Parents, a flashlight and reflective gear can be a lifesaver here.

Fall and winter produces some of the most picturesque moments here in Germany, but we need to be safe to make sure we are around to enjoy them. Planning ahead and having a proactive safety mindset can do just that.

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