MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI -- While winter and the holidays bring the possibility for fun, they also bring the prospect of a variety of accidents.
By taking simple precautions, individuals can have a safe and enjoyable celebration and enjoy all the winter months have to offer.
"Our goal here is to educate everybody on all the different safety aspects related to this winter and holiday season," said Patrick Brown, Station Safety program administrator. "We want to make sure that everybody enjoys the season without any mishaps."
With winter comes the perfect time to hit the slopes, but those participating should be properly prepared before heading out into any winter wonderland.
"Around here, we'll get a lot of recreational mishaps relating to snowboarding and skiing," said Brown. "Marine Corps Community Services gives out some good information when issuing gear. And the ski and snowboard locations have their own regulations, and do's and don'ts."
Of course, no one carries their skis or snowboard to the mountains, so it is important to consider the hazards of winter travel.
"There's a lot of things to do to prepare your vehicle for the winter," said Brown. "You need to make sure you've had all your tune-ups, you've changed your antifreeze, and that your batteries and tires are good."
Winter storms can come without warning, and the last place you want to find out your car is in need of a tune-up is on the side of a snowy highway.
"Sometimes we'll see people come out in cars that are not prepared for winter, and they'll try and conquer the snowy roads," said Brown. "They're more likely to lose control of their vehicles and get into an accident."
When making travel plans, make sure to take the weather conditions into account.
"The expressways have times when the snow gets bad in the mountains, and they either close all traffic or limit it to cars with snow tires," said Kenji Sakamoto, Station Safety training specialist. "Sometimes they won't allow chains, so as to avoid road damage."
Should a problem arise, knowing how to contact the base is important.
"It's great to have a cell phone or some phone cards when traveling," said Brown. "It's also good to have a list of common phrases and important numbers."
To call the Provost Marshal's Office from off Station, call 0827-21-7700. That number will connect you with a bilingual operator.
If possible during cold weather, stay indoors, but if not, take the proper precautions.
"If you work outdoors, you need to dress warmly," said Brown. "And you should know the warning signs of cold weather illnesses like hypothermia."
While the holiday season may be the season of giving, it is important to make sure that the gift fits the child.
"Anytime you're purchasing toys, make sure to get a toy for that age group," said Brown. "And read the warning labels and instructions properly."
Holiday decorations can also be hazardous if not properly set up.
"Combustible trees will not be allowed on Station if they are dry at time of sale or if they have not been treated with flame retardant chemicals," said Brown. "Live trees will be removed within 10 days after Christmas. Trees should be kept in water and not block any exits."
Residents should inspect all lighting before placing it on the tree, checking for broken bulbs and the Underwriters Laboratories label. Additionally, outlets should not be overloaded, and candles and open flames should not be used near flammable materials.
"The holidays are a time for joy," said Brown, "but that joy can quickly turn to disaster if safety precautions aren't taken. We want everybody to have a safe, happy holiday season."