Enjoy winter, but keep it safe

By Cannon AFB Emergency Management

As we enter the harshest part of the year, please consider some cold-weather related safety concerns as you and your family go about your daily business.

While our average winter temperature is 45 degrees, we often experience lows in the single digits with an associated wind creating a wind-chill effect that is below zero. This can be especially dangerous for young children as they play outdoors, or are waiting for their morning bus ride.

As responsible parents, and in accordance with the base housing policy, all children under the age of 5 must be accompanied at all times. Children ages 5 and 6 must be within immediate access of supervision — this means within sight or sound of an adult or child sitter. Children ages 7 to 9 must have access to supervision — this means having ability to quickly contact someone in case of an emergency and the sponsor knows the child’s location. Children ages 10 and older may be outside without direct adult supervision and may be left alone in quarters by themselves.

Adherence to these guidelines allows a responsible individual to act with good judgment on the amount of exposure to the cold weather our children receive. It is imperative that we ensure our children are dressed appropriately for the weather; failure to do so is actually a crime.

Additionally, consider preparing yourself, your home and your cars for winter storms. Here are a few tips:

• Be prepared for isolation at home and ensure an emergency kit has been developed. If you live in a rural area, make sure you can survive at home for a week or two in case a storm isolates you and makes it impossible for you to leave.

• Dress for the season. If you spend time outdoors, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than a single layer of thick clothing.

• Ensure your car is in good condition, equipped with chains or snow tires, and filled with gas. Clear off the entire window — don’t be a “peephole” driver.

• If possible, take another person with you and/or ensure someone knows your schedule and route.

• Have emergency “winter storm supplies” in the car such as sand or cat litter, shovel, windshield scraper, tow chain or rope, jumper cables, flares, a flashlight with extra batteries, sleeping bag or blankets, extra food, a candle and warm clothing.

• If you have a cell phone, take it with you and make sure it’s fully charged.

• Travel by daylight and use major highways if you can. Keep the car radio tuned for weather information.

• Drive with all possible caution. Don’t try to save time by traveling faster than road and weather conditions permit. Plan for your trip to take longer so you can drive slower.

• Keep calm if your vehicle becomes disabled.

• If you are on a well-traveled road, indicate that you are in trouble by flashing your hazard lights, or hang a cloth from the radio antenna or car window. Stay in your car and wait for help to arrive. To keep warm, run engine 10 minutes per hour. This helps avoid running out of gas.

• Remember to open a window wide enough to provide ventilation and protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe area free of snow.

Winter can be an exciting and fun time in New Mexico. We encourage you to take advantage of all the winter opportunities this area provides. Have fun and stay safe.