Stay Winter Safe Published Feb. 13, 2012 By 1st Lt. Anthony J. Lesterson 127th Wing Public Affairs SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Often I hear people say you're from Michigan, you must be used to the cold and you must like it. As a look of dismay comes on my face I usually say something in the nature of, "Well let me make something abundantly clear. The best way to deal with the cold is to stay out of it as much as possible." Unfortunately at the 127th Wing, Selfridge ANGB, Mich., in order to support the numerous missions the approximately 1700 Airmen must embrace the winter months. Being prepared and a strong attention to detail are key factors to take on the cold season successfully. "You have to assess your surroundings, by that I mean realizing specific conditions will not allow you to operate in a way your used to or comfortable," said Major Nicklas S. Hebekeuser, 127th Wing Chief of Safety. Preparedness is what will lessen the risks of the many winter challenges that can and will create heartache. Driving is one of many Michigander's problems during the winter months. Snow and ice come with winter every year and even the most skilled drivers can be caught off guard. Take your time while driving. Make sure you stop sooner and go easy on the breaks. Drive slower and leave sooner to get to your destination. A prepared driver will keep a winter kit in the car with the necessary supplies in case of a break down. Some things recommended to keep in your car are: one or two blankets, a set of long johns, gloves and two pairs of wool socks, a winter hat, several bottles of water, water proof matches, some snacks, a mini fold up shovel, kitty litter and possibly a road flair. These resources will likely accommodate you until help arrives. We must always take measures to keep warm. For the Airmen who are subjected to the cold more than others, preparedness cannot just save their life, but it can save others. Knowing how to both physically and mentally prepare is crucial. All Airmen must dress for the occasion. Knowing when to add or take away a layer of clothing can determine effectiveness while performing their duties. Many of us do not just stay active on a professional level in the cold. Many Airmen enjoy the snow for physical activities. Any sporting activities come with a certain risk factor for the challenge, excitement and physical conditioning. Winter sports in some cases possess and even deeper threat due to the vulnerability of the cold. Always have a partner when skiing, snowboarding and any other winter sport activities. Wear protective gear, know your abilities and stay hydrated. "The thing that makes winter sports so fun is operating out of a degree of control and the risks being taken; however make sure the reward is greater than the risk and a safe finish is well within reason," said Hebekeuser. Slip and falls seem to be the greatest cause of injuries to Wing members on the base. Give yourself more time to get from one place to another. Keep an eye out for ice patches and packed down snow. Make sure you look out for your Wingman. Remember safety has no rank. Any Airman can have an equally important opinion when it comes to the safety of others. If any unsafe acts are committed or any safety violations are present contact the 127th Safety Office or your designated safety representative. In case of an emergency call 911 immediately.