By Senior Airman Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Now that Thanksgiving is over, the preparation for one of the most beloved holidays of the year has begun.
Shopping for gifts and organizing trips are usually at the forefront of most people’s to do list at this time.
That list, however, should also include a safety plan to provide the family with a solid strategy in case of any emergency when traveling, not only to family, but back home as well.
Taking extra precaution when returning home after the holidays is vital to your safety and others on the road. Maybe you’re not ready to leave your family, you’re sad, and that can cause many distractions on the road.
Implement those safety plans with your family, before an emergency situation happens. Also consider safety for those upcoming family traditions when you return home, like lighting and decorating the Christmas tree.
Yes, lighting the tree needs a safety plan.
During this year’s Winter Safety campaign, the 19th Airlift Wing Safety Office urges everyone to have a safety plan in mind before leaving to enjoy the holidays and also when returning home.
“Drivers should focus on the FACTS: Fatigue, Alcohol, Cell Phone Usage, Too Much Speed and Seatbelts while driving this holiday season,” said Richard Myers, the 19th AW Ground Safety manager.
The factors that make up the FACTS acronym are the leading contributors to fatalities for car and motorcycle accidents.
Over the past five years, the Air Force had a total of 183 fatalities, 88 involving motorcycles and 95 involving cars. Contributing factors in 96 percent of these fatalities were from speeding, alcohol or other drug impairment.
Myers said risk management (proper planning, preparation and continual awareness), is the key to a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
While packing bags for the trip, also pack emergency kit items such as: a flashlight, batteries, blankets, a good spare tire, and food and water.
Make sure your vehicle has been inspected by professionals and everything is good to go. But just in case, have the number of local towing companies in the area as well.
These tips are vital before leaving, but also when preparing to return home.
Once you’ve returned:
Excitement during the holidays can sometimes blur the fact that the simplest family tradition can become fatal if not planned the proper way.
One of those traditions is lighting the Christmas tree.
Did you know that plugging more than three sets of lights into one extension cord can cause a fire?
Here are some things to remember while pulling out the old tree and decorations.
Keep trees away from heat sources such as fireplaces, hot air vents, radiators and stoves.
Unplug all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and cause a fire.
Buy non-leaded and non-flammable ornaments.
Make sure the tree stand is adequate to hold the weight of the tree without tipping.
If you have a real tree, do not let it go without water and dry out. An 8 foot, dry tree can burn completely down in 27 seconds.
This holiday season, think not only about the food and gifts being shared, but also the lives that can be spared by taking a few extra moments to ensure your family has a safety plan.
For more information, visit the 19th AW Ground Safety sharepoint site: https://eim.amc.af.mil/org/19se/Ground_Safety/default.aspx.