Deck The Halls With Winter Safety

  • Published
  • By Lisa Gonzales
  • Air Force Safety Center

The stillness of the frozen air heightens the senses, making the blanket of snow gleam, or the robin’s song more beautiful. Winter holds many exciting outdoor activities, building snowmen, skiing down the slopes or just relaxing in front of the fireplace with a good book.

The winter holiday season is a time to celebrate and enjoy time with family and friends, not spent in the emergency room or worse. Incorporating risk management in all your holiday activities can help reduce or eliminate accidents from happening. 

“Winter is loaded with opportunities for our Airmen and Guardians to have fun,” said Major General Sean Choquette, Chief of Safety for the Department of the Air Force and Air Force Safety Center. “Please incorporate risk management into all your on- and off-duty activities this holiday season. Our AFSEC public pages and social media provide great tips you and your family can incorporate for a safe holiday season. Remember, AFSEC is here to help.”


Winter driving has unique hazards like snow, sleet or black ice on roadways can make treacherous driving conditions. These can be made worse through distracted and/or impaired driving. Below are some tips to help keep you safe not only during your holiday travel but winter activities as well. 

If you get stuck in the snow, stay with your vehicle, tie a bright colored cloth on the antenna, use flashers, and remove snow away from the exhaust pipe. Keep warm by using any available blankets or clothes and only running the vehicle and heater long enough to remove the chill.

If you hit black ice, remain calm and avoid hitting the brakes, keep the steering wheel straight, if the back end of the car starts sliding, gently turn the steering wheel in the same direction.  

Incorporate risk management in your holiday trips by continually checking the weather before you leave and leaving your itinerary with someone you trust. If the weather turns bad, pull over or get to a hotel and wait it out. Be aware of snowy, slushy, or icy pavement while driving as they can be extremely dangerous.  Also make sure to get plenty of rest before traveling and take breaks as needed.

Never text and drive and avoid making phone calls while driving. If you must take a call, pull over at a rest stop or safe location. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving caused 3,522 fatalities in 2021. 

Buzzed driving is becoming more prevalent as most states have legalized marijuana. Remember, drug-impaired driving is dangerous and illegal. Whether the drug was obtained legally or illegally, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to everyone in the vehicle and on the road.


For the winter sports fanatics in all of us, skiing, snowboarding, or sledding are great ways to spend time outdoors during the winter months, but while these activities are exhilarating, they are also dangerous. By being aware of those dangers, using sound risk management, and wearing the proper personal protective equipment, you will keep yourself and family safe. 

For snowboarding and skiing, the proper PPE consists of helmets, gloves, goggles and properly fitted boots with bindings, along with wrist guards for snowboarders. Additionally, dressing in multiple layers will help trap warm air near your skin, a base layer that wicks sweat away, a mid-layer that insulates and keeps in heat and a water-resistant jacket and pants at a minimum to protect you from frost bite or hypothermia.  

According to the National Safety Council, in 2021 alone, more than 57,000 injuries were attributed to skiing and snowboarding. They advise all skiers and snowboarders take time to review proper skills and safety techniques. 

“I wish you all a joyous and safe winter holiday season, said William Walkowiak, chief, Occupational Safety, for the Air Force Safety Center. “Keep an eye out for each other and use risk management in all your activities.”

In all your winter activities know your limitations before you participate, take a refresher course if you haven’t kept up your skill level and if you “See Something, Do Something … Live to be Lethal!