Preparing for winter safety

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Wet roads and bald tires can make your car slide and lose control and those who live in and around the Spangdahlem community know that wet weather isn't uncommon.

Coming from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, dealing with this kind of weather is second nature for me. Humidity was common and the winters were never forgiving.

Every winter, my brothers and I would build igloos in the front yard. Playing in the snow for long periods of time often made our hands wet and brought us dangerously close to hypothermia. We would periodically go inside to warm ourselves, decreasing our risk of frostbite, so we could continue playing.

As I got older, the dangers of winter became more apparent. I had to learn to drive in the snow and how to identify black ice, which was very common.

Driving through blizzards became a way of life in "Minnesnowta." I had to plow through three feet of snow and scrape a "half-inch" of ice off from the windshield almost every day. But on occasion, when the car would break down because it was too cold for the engine to turn over, I would brave the sidewalks riding my bicycle.

That's right, I road my bicycle in a snow storm.

As dangerous as it may seem, I stayed away from busy roads, rode only on the bike paths and wore many layers. Even though I made it to my destination, I wouldn't recommend this method of transportation. Never the less, it forced me to learn how to safely and effectively combat the winter weather quickly.

Regardless of what method of transportation you decide to use, it is always helpful to check for any safety hazards that may present an issue. Before leaving the house, I had to check my vehicle to make sure it could handle driving in adverse weather conditions. This ensured my fluid levels were not low and I had enough tread on my tires to maintain traction. Making sure my battery was charged and adding a small amount of fuel additive (antifreeze) also helps prevent fuel lines from freezing.

When it comes to winter safety, Jack Frost is infamous for sneaking up and making it difficult to identify safety hazards. Just think of all that black ice and frozen metal that you can't see until it's too late. Sliding across the gravel or hands stuck to the car door are only the beginning of the many issues that arise with the changing seasons. After all ... winter is coming.

Being prepared for the road conditions or the cold weather goes a lot further than being observant. In some cases, having a winter contingency package may help too.

Before grabbing my keys and running out the door, I make sure my car has an extra pair of socks or warm blankets. It might not be a bad idea to pack some snacks, too. You never know when you might break down and end up stranded on the side of the road.

I check my tires for the proper speed rating and tread depth. Make sure you have proper seasonal tires is also important. Going too fast or not having enough tread may cause an accident.

Being prepared for safety hazards can make or break your car, but more importantly ... it could save your life or the life of those with you. Watch out for your Wingmen and report any safety concerns to your supervision or the Spangdahlem safety office.

For more information, check out the Air Force Safety Center website at