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Stay safe this winter

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – --

As winter approaches and the temperature begins to drop in Altus, it is important to remember the many hazards that come with colder weather so that certain measures can be taken to ensure the safety of all.

Some winter hazards to be aware of include adverse road conditions, frostbite or hypothermia, dehydration and slips or falls.

“We usually focus mostly on driving safety in the winter because it affects the most people,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Huffer, 97th Air Mobility Wing occupational safety technician.

In order to prevent vehicular accidents this winter, there are several things to keep in mind.

“Don’t hit the brakes,” said Huffer. “This is usually peoples’ first reaction when something happens while driving, but if you are sliding on ice, it could lock your wheels and cause you to slide out of control.”

Instead, Huffer suggests remaining calm, taking pressure off the accelerator and slowly steering the vehicle to a safe spot.

“The key is to avoid making any sudden movements to your vehicle as this can usually cause more problems,” added Huffer.

Other helpful tips to prevent vehicle mishaps in the winter months is to keep all tires properly inflated and in good condition, checking the weather forecast of any travel routes and destinations and keeping an emergency kit in the vehicle for emergencies.

“When travelling, don’t be afraid to take an extra day to give yourself a little extra cushion to get back safely. Have some sort of kit with you, especially if you’re driving long distances,” said Huffer. “if you get stuck, sand or kitty litter will help your vehicle get traction and flares or road lights will help other drivers see you, or even help rescue vehicles find you if it’s foggy out.”

If stuck, Huffer suggests having blankets or extra warm clothes, food, water and necessary medicines on hand as well.

“It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it,” he said.

In addition to driving safely, there are a few other things to keep in mind as the temperature drops.

“Of all the mishaps we’re going to get, probably about 80 percent or more will be slips and falls,” said Huffer. “To avoid this, try not to walk where you can’t see. If there’s a layer of snow covering the sidewalk, you don’t know what’s under there.”

Additionally, if working outside, Huffer recommended taking frequent breaks.

“It gets windy here. With the wind chill factor, it will sometimes drop below zero, and it doesn’t always matter what you’re wearing. The wind will go right through you,” Huffer said. “Limit how long you’re going to be outside. Work for a bit stop, rest and hydrate. Even though it’s not hot, you’re still using fluids.”

With all things in winter, one key thing to keep in mind is not to rush.

“Drive slowly and walk slowly. There’s no need to rush. If you go slower, it’s less likely you’ll crash or slip and it will also give you more time to react to other folks out there. You might be doing everything just fine, but you have to look out for other folks as well,” said Huffer.

Follow the 97th AMW on Facebook, Twitter, or call 481-NEWS to stay updated on inclement weather and contact your immediate supervisors for instruction during potential late-reporting conditions.