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Winter safety tips for safe, happy holidays

| 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Dec. 14, 2016

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — While winters in San Antonio may be milder than other parts of the country, temperature drops means there are still precautions that should be taken to ensure your family’s safety. Likewise, many Airmen are traveling to other parts of the country for the holidays where winter conditions may be more extreme.

The Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph safety office has a few simple tips to ensure Airmen and their families have a happy and safe holiday season no matter where they spend the holidays.

• Driving safety
Before driving in snowy conditions, check your battery, brakes, radiator and antifreeze level. Check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires. Keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Also, be aware of proper driving procedures for icy and snowy roads. Allow for extra travel time between locations due to weather conditions.

• Outdoor safety
To prevent frostbite and hypothermia while outside, wear several layers of warm, loose-fitting and lightweight clothing with water repellent outer garments. Remember to remove layers during activities to prevent sweating. Change wet clothing as quickly as possible to prevent loss of body heat and cover all parts of the body, especially head, hands, face, and mouth to protect lungs from very cold air.

Drink plenty of fluids since hydration increases the blood's volume, which helps prevent frostbite. Make sure to cover exposed skin with sunscreen because the sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow.

• Fire safety
Choose holiday decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Keep any lit candles away from anything that can burn. When cooking, never leave the stove or oven unattended. Fireplaces should be swept every year to remove soot and debris.

Smoke alarms should be installed on every floor of the home, replaced every 10 years and tested monthly. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that could burn, and turn them off when leaving the room or sleeping.

• Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is odorless and cannot be seen in the air. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed outside of sleeping areas and batteries checked each spring and fall. Never run a vehicle inside an attached garage.

• Winter health
Influenza activity increases in October and November and peaks during the winter months, continues as late as May. A flu vaccine is the first and best way to reduce chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Good health habits like covering the mouth when coughing and washing of hands also helps stop the spread of germs and prevents illnesses like the flu.

• Pet safety
Pets should not be left outdoors when temperatures drop. Permanent damage can be caused to exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads by freezing temperature and salt on the ground. Pets who spend a large amount of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Use plastic food and water bowls when temperatures drop as pets’ tongues can stick and freeze to metal.

• Freezing pipes
To prevent pipes from freezing, let the cold water drip, even at a trickle, from the faucet served by the exposed pipes. To thaw frozen pipes, keep the faucet open. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.

• Emergencies
In case of emergency situations, emergency supply kits should be assembled for everyone in the home or traveling in the car. The kits should include 72 hours of food, water and other necessary supplies.

Other items to include are battery-operated flashlights, extra batteries, first-aid kit and extra medicine, baby items and salt, cat litter or sand for icy walkways.

• Reporting procedures
For inclement weather notifications and current, automated information on base operating status during a natural disaster, crisis or emergency, call the JBSA Straight Talk Line at 466-4630.