Tis the safety season ...

  • Published
  • By Maj. Martin Benavidez
  • 509th Munitions Squadron commander
It's that time of the year, where most of us are preparing for those wonderful meals, putting up holiday decorations, and meeting and greeting with family and friends. It is easy for our thoughts to get wrapped up in everyday stressors and forget to add safety into the equation of planning and coordinating.

This holiday season, which runs from the day before Thanksgiving to the day after New Years, is considered to be one of the busiest and most dangerous times of the year. According to the Air Force Safety Center, there has been an average of six deaths per year during the holiday season.

Since this year is designated the "Year of the Air Force Family," it becomes imperative to practice good mishap prevention throughout this holiday season. As our Air Force leader's holiday message reminded us, this becomes important because we all have to consider how our personal risk-related decisions and actions might affect our families and friends. A simple gift to give back to ourselves, to our families and friends is to keep safety on the forefront when celebrating this holiday season.

There is no doubt, this wing is one of the busiest and most productive wings under Air Combat Command and soon Global Strike Command, so we can answer our nation's call at a moment's notice. This was proven during our recent Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection, Global Thunder and Nuclear Surety Inspections; when we devoted many hours to this mission; and the little spare time we have to spend with our families, friends and loved ones becomes even more precious.

As we make our travel plans for this season, we all must consider the potential problems that exist. As an old maintenance commander once told me "Expect the unexpected and DO NOT take safety for granted." When it comes to safety, personal experience is a harsh teacher. With a little imagination and the use of "What if ..." scenarios or "Did I think of everything?" you can plan a safe and successful holiday. It is never enough just to think about potential hazards associated with traveling such as slippery roads, wildlife crossing your path, speeding, drunk drivers and many others.

A snapshot of mishap prevention measures recommend by the Safety Center are:

- Have and be a good wingman
- Know what your "good" travel plan is
- Know that drinking and driving don't mesh
- Know that seatbelt use is mandatory
- Know that personal protection equipment when riding a motorcycle is essential for survival
- Make sure your commander and your supervisor know where you are and how you are getting there
- Fatigue is a major contributor to mishaps, pushing yourself to point of exhaustion is considered as dangerous as drunk driving

If traveling this season is not on your radar, but instead you plan to keep it low key with family or friends, choose your off-duty time wisely. Our Air Force leaders continually encourage us to celebrate the season in our own special way, but to celebrate responsibility. Statics show most accidents occur within a ten mile radius from the home. What we all learned from Operational Risk Management from our daily workforce can easily be applied to everyday home environment.

Safety discipline is not only a commander's policy, but it should be every Airmen and Air Force family member's policy. One of the goals under the concept of the Year of the Air Force Family is to encourage family members to act as a resource to keep their Airmen safe.

The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year and cannot be avoided, but applying the simple principles under ORM can give some relief. By following the simple steps mentioned, you and your family can have a happy and peaceful holiday.