ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
As winter comes to Ellsworth, the weather becomes a safety hazard and knowing the proper procedures related to slick roads and excessive snow and ice helps ensure the safety of the base community.
Taking proper winter precautions for personal vehicles and one’s wellbeing is an essential part to limiting the chance of injury during the winter season.
“High winds, low temperatures, snow and ice can impact individuals,” said Staff Sgt. Seth LaFleur, the 28th Bomb Wing noncommissioned officer in charge of wing safety compliance. “It is important to wear proper clothing for the weather one is exposed to in order to keep internal body temperatures at appropriate levels while experiencing winter conditions.”
Cold weather can be very dangerous when one is not properly prepared, which is why wearing the proper apparel for cold weather is very important for ensuring one’s safety.
“The essentials for cold weather apparel is head gear, scarves, gloves, coats, and boots with adequate layers to protect against the cold and to prevent sweating,” said LaFleur.
Wearing the proper clothing in cold conditions is a good way to stay safe, but knowing the correct way to move in icy conditions can be complicated.
“People need to pay close attention to environmental changes and reduce one’s pace and stride in icy conditions, [which reduces] the chance of slipping, tripping and falling,” said LaFleur.
One main way to reduce the chances of slips, trips, and falls is to reduce the chance of ice forming entirely.
“Snow and ice is unpredictable and must be properly removed to truly prevent slips, trips, and falls,” said LaFleur. “Ensuring that work center walkways and parking lots are adequately salted, plowed or shoveled is the best way to reduce the chance of ice and snow build up.”
Even if someone is fully prepared for winter, one must remember that vehicles can slip and slide in icy conditions and need proper maintenance to prepare them for winter.
According to Michael Walter, the 28th Bomb Wing occupational safety and health deputy, have a full tank of gas in the vehicle to limit condensation in the fuel tank; make sure the vehicle’s tires have adequate tread-depth; and use either all-season or winter tires on the vehicle. Even if all of these precautions are taken there is still a chance for vehicles to get stuck in a storm, so be prepared.
Additionally, keep a windshield scraper, automotive snow brush and winter survival kit in the vehicle.
“Keep snack bars, trail mix, [Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs)], high-calorie and high-protein foods in your vehicle in case you’re stranded, [and also] candles, lighters, warm clothes, first aid kit, small camp shovel, road flares and a flashlight with extra batteries,” said Walter. “Having your cellphone is essential; try messaging if you have poor reception as this uses less energy from the phone’s battery and will often transmit while a call may not.”
Keeping a vehicle winter-ready is essential to limiting the chance of injury and death, prepping the home for the same issue is equally so.
“Preparing the home for winter is similar to preparing one’s vehicle, making sure you have warm cloths, plenty of high-calorie food and multiple fire sources is important,” said Walter. “If someone is snowed in, make sure to use heat from a fire place, wood stove or space heater and close off all unneeded rooms to avoid wasting heat, as well as stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors to keep in heat.”
Winter may be very beautiful to some, but can also be dangerous in South Dakota, so make sure you are fully prepared for what is to come during the winter months. To find more information on how to be prepare for winter, go to the Air Force Safety Center’s official website at https://www.safety.af.mil/Divisions/Occupational-Safety-Division/Winter-Safety/.