Safety -- an important part of a happy holiday season

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Drost
  • 71st Flying Training Wing chief of Safety
For many, the word "safety" connotes mandatory briefings, computer-based training, paperwork and a funny video or two.

Given its importance to the mission of Vance Air Force Base, this one word should be intrinsic to your daily life instead of being the afterthought it sometimes becomes.

As the new chief of Wing Safety at Vance, in addition to flying with the 25th Flying Training Squadron, I intend to visit all squadrons on base to learn every aspect of our mission.

I am lucky to have a great staff of four dedicated civilians and four military members. If you have a safety-related question, we will provide you an answer -- if not immediately, then after consultation with the appropriate people.

What is apparent in the short time I have been in this job is the remarkable number of safety mishaps caused by people not thinking through the risks of their actions -- happily none at Vance. With just a little forethought, many dangerous situations are avoidable.

With the holidays approaching, I want to emphasize the importance of thinking through your plans. For all of us, holidays should be a fun, relaxing time spent with family and loved ones.

Unfortunately, too many of us add unnecessary complications to our lives by engaging in unsafe actions that defy common sense.

Car safety is especially important when so many Vance warriors take to the roads for long distances. How prepared is your vehicle?

I'm happy to report that our safety office assisted by distributing dozens of ice scrapers. But I'm also a little worried that so many of you didn't already have one.

Beyond performing basic maintenance, have you added any items that may be helpful in the event your vehicle becomes inoperative during your journey? Some of these items include energy bars, bottled water, hats, gloves, socks, blankets, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, road markers or flares, a flashlight and waterproof matches.

Be sure you are fit to drive. Did you work a full day and plan to drive eight hours at night just to make it to a relative's house for breakfast? Did you check local weather or driving conditions along the route?

Many websites and phone apps are available to assist in smart route planning.

Do you have an emergency contact in the area? Did you give yourself enough time to attend your event without rushing or speeding? Too often, risky behavior occurs when people are in a hurry to get one more unimportant task done.

Most regrettable of all are the entirely avoidable accidents that result from drunk driving. It can cause death and injury, and incurs severe penalties from both civilian and military courts.

Make safe transportation a key part of your party plans this holiday.

Taking care of your home is important during these cold winter months. Have you planned for the probable loss of power to your home? If that plan involves going to Lowes and buying a generator when every other house in Enid has lost power, you will likely find the generator shelf bare.

If you plan to leave the area, do you have a friend or neighbor checking on the house to ensure everything is in working order? What if Enid loses power while you are gone and your home has no heat? Have you turned the water off, or are your pipes in danger of bursting?

The National Safety Council's website is dedicated to the topics above and can provide additional information --

For more safety information, go to the network S-drive, click on Public, Safety, then WEB PAGES. Don't be intimidated. It's not all Air Force Instructions and regulations. Toshie Whiteaker does a great job keeping the information current and useful for Team Vance members.

When you safely return to Vance in January, be ready to get back to the mission. There is a difference between just showing up and showing up ready to work.

Whether you fly aircraft or support those who do, safety should play an important role in everyone's job. Have fun this holiday season, but be mindful of your decisions and stay safe!