Winter preparedness, a good idea

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Winter weather preparation helps ensure the best possible outcome for dealing with the ice and snow that may still come our way in the next few months. It’s not too late to anticipate, both physically and mentally, for that possibility.

Navigating Ice on Foot

Ice and snow create a multitude of hazards for pedestrians, but there are ways to continue with daily routines without major complications. Tinker promotes the “Walk Like a Penguin” campaign so that all personnel are aware of the safest way to walk on snow and ice.

• Balance yourself with your arms by holding them out slightly to your sides.

• Keep your hands out of your pockets and distribute the weight of packages/bags evenly to give yourself better balance.

• Take short shuffling steps, bend slightly and keep a loose.

• Walk as flat footed as possible.

After you have the technique down, remember that other factors will also affect your ability to remain upright when walking on slippery surfaces.

• Overly heavy loads affect your sense of balance even when distributed evenly.

• Smooth soled shoes or high heels provide less surface area to ground and less traction.

• Running or taking overly long strides affect both traction and the location of your center of gravity affecting your ability to maintain your balance.

There are various devices that can be placed over your shoes to provide better traction when walking on ice. Some of these devices have coiled wires that stretch across the bottom surfaces of the shoe, making walking on ice a little less tricky. Please remember however, even with this assistance HOW you walk remains key. 

If, even with proper walking techniques, you find yourself falling backward make an effort to tuck your chin so that you do not hit your head and try to relax your muscles. Tension in the body ensures that one hard surface — your body, hits a second hard surface — the ground, with more force than necessary increasing the chance of injury.

Practice your “Penguin Walk” now before the snow and ice hits Oklahoma. Teach it to your children, your parents and your friends!

Winter Driving

Dealing with fog: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, there is an average of 500 fog-related highway fatalities each year. The best advice for handling heavy fog is to stay home and wait for it to lift before traveling. If you cannot avoid traveling during foggy conditions, below are a few basic safety tips you should follow: 

• If you must drive in fog, allow more time for your journey.

• Check and clean your windshield, windows and lights before driving. Use windshield wipers and defrosters at all times. Using the air conditioner along with your defrosters works best.

• See and be seen. As a general rule, drivers should use low beams only.

• If you drive into a patch of fog, slow down gradually so the car behind you has time to slow down, too.

• To heighten your awareness in your murky surroundings, open your window part way and turn off the radio.

• Maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you.  Leave yourself plenty of room for stopping. You should always be able to stop within your range of vision.

• Slow down and keep to a safe speed. Don’t be tempted to keep up with the vehicle in front of you, as it can give a false sense of security.

• Don’t speed up to get away from a vehicle which is too close behind you.

• Stay patient. Do not pass, as you may find visibility ahead is much worse than you actually think.

• Don’t hunch forward over your steering wheel. You’ll see better in your normal driving position.

• Use the right side of the road for guidance.

• If the fog gets too dense, pull off the road, leave headlights on, engage hazard warning lights, turn on interior lights and sound the horn occasionally.

Remember fog can drift rapidly and is often patchy. People sometimes think fog is clearing and suddenly find they are back in thick fog.

Turning at an intersection in fog requires particular care. Open your windows so you can hear oncoming vehicles. Use turn signals well beforehand and while waiting to turn. Keep your foot on the brake pedal so that your brake lights are on as an extra warning.

If possible, find an off-street parking space for your car and never leave it on the “wrong” side of the road.

If your vehicle breaks down, get it off the road if you can. If you can’t do this, make sure you turn the hazard warning lights on.

Winter Car Kit

The following equipment will help you keep warm, visible and alive if caught by a winter storm:

• Blankets or sleeping bags for each occupant of the vehicle.

• Extra warm clothing for each occupant. It’s especially important to have head cover, heavy gloves or mittens and warm boots. A lot of body heat is lost through your extremities.

• High calorie non-perishable food, including candy, canned nuts and raisins are a good source. In addition, if you can heat water and take along a cup, spoon, tea bags, hot chocolate and a cup of soup. Remember a can opener.

• Drinking water, and make sure it is protected from freezing.

• Catalytic heater. Make sure you know how to use the heater to prevent fire or dangerous fumes. Proper ventilation is essential.

• Matches, candles or solid fuels, but use caution so you don’t start a fire. Proper ventilation is necessary to prevent oxygen starvation. Let some fresh air into the vehicle. Do not go to sleep with a candle or solid fuel burning in your car. Include two empty coffee cans for the candles or solid fuels.

• Pocketknife and first aid kit and be sure to include special medicines required and a first aid manual with the kit.

• Facial or toilet tissue.

• Transistor Radio. Include extra batteries.

• Flashlight or signal light. Include extra batteries.

• Battery booster cables.

• Signal flares.

• Shovel.

• Two tow chains.

• Sand or cat litter to be used for traction if you, or a vehicle obstructing your path, gets stuck.

• Basic repair tools

• Axe to cut tree branches to put under tires for more traction.