Enjoy a safe, fun holiday season with family, friends

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Anthony Edwards
  • 86th Aerial Port Squadron commander

As the holidays approach and we enter a time of reflection and celebration, it’s as important as ever to keep sight of the most important asset to the U.S. Air Force — its people.

Many of us are deployed overseas. Ensuring these friends, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, etc. are remembered and loved is paramount. For those at home, many will be traveling around the country and globe to visit our loved ones.

While we enjoy the festivities and fun the season has to offer, remember it’s important to remain vigilant of certain risks, which commonly occur around this time of year. With a little bit of planning and precaution, you can help in bringing us safely together in the new year.

Winter weather conditions can take a turn for the worse quite quickly, with automobile accidents likely to increase. There are several factors that contribute to this trend.

Firstly, it becomes dark sooner and visibility is decreased. Secondly, with snow or rain on the driving surface the ability to maintain traction is severely challenged.

Make sure you have all-season or winter tires, and increase your driving distance from the vehicle in front of you. This also allows for more braking distance. 
With regard to trip planning, have a driving strategy if traveling more than eight hours at a time, including frequent rest breaks along your route. If you become tired, pull the vehicle off the road in a safe place a take a short nap before you resume driving.

If you are traveling over many of the local passes, be sure to check the driving conditions of that pass prior to the start of your trip. Carry extra water, food and a blanket in your car in case of an emergency. It might be helpful to also carry a set of snow chains that fit the tires on your vehicle.

In short, plan ahead if you are driving over the holidays so that you arrive safely to your destination.

Also during the holiday season, people attend more parties and group outings than usual, and alcohol is commonly served. If you intend to drink, please have a plan in place prior to attending the party. If you attend a party with friends, establish first who will be your designated driver; the local police and highway patrol increase their driving under the influence patrols during the holiday season.

In case you do find yourself in a situation where you need a safe ride home, remember you have options — public transportation, taxi cabs, friends, even a hotel or motel to stay the night. These options are much cheaper than paying for a DUI, let alone all of the consequences that could follow.

Lastly, remember to check in with your wingman during the holidays — especially those who may not have family or loved ones in the local area. It’s never a bad idea to let people know you’re thinking of them and are there to provide support or a listening ear if needed.

As people are our most valuable asset, we must ensure as Air Force members that we are protecting each other from not only external threats such as weather conditions and traffic accidents, but from internal threats that can be harder to see and to prevent.

Have a great holiday season. Be safe and considerate while participating in holiday activities. Take time to enjoy special moments with friends and family that will last a lifetime.