Shaw shares seasonal safety suggestions

According to the United States Department of Transportation, during the six-day Thanksgiving travel period, long-distance trips increase by 54 percent and during the Christmas and New Year’s period, trips increase by 23 percent. Always have a plan before hitting the road; check the weather in advance and don’t risk driving in unsafe conditions. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

According to the United States Department of Transportation, during the six-day Thanksgiving travel period, long-distance trips increase by 54 percent and during the Christmas and New Year’s period, trips increase by 23 percent. Always have a plan before hitting the road; check the weather in advance and don’t risk driving in unsafe conditions. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

When decorating with lights, inspect each strand for damage. Follow user instructions to ensure the correct amount of lights are used to prevent overloading the circuit. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

When decorating with lights, inspect each strand for damage. Follow user instructions to ensure the correct amount of lights are used to prevent overloading the circuit. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 2016 winter holiday season is just around the corner.

Along with celebrations and traditions during the holiday season there are also hazards of various shapes and sizes that accompany cooking, decorating.

Whether food comes out of the frying pan or is prepared on the counter, kitchen hazards can be common during the holiday season.

“The biggest error people make when frying a turkey is not making sure the turkey is fully thawed before they start frying it,” said Cornelius Berry, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector. “If it’s not fully thawed it has a lot of water content, and water and oil don’t mix. When you put the turkey in the oil, all the water is released, the steam expands exponentially, the oil spills over into the fire and superheats the grease, then you have a grease fire. It happens in a matter of seconds, almost like an explosion.”

Although turkey frying is a well-known hazard, Berry said the biggest cause of kitchen fires is leaving food unattended while cooking.

The kitchen isn’t the only place to watch out for hazards; decorating in and around the home can also present risks.

Lighting and ladders are items that may become dangerous under certain conditions.

Before hanging lights, check for damage and read the instructions to avoid overloading the circuit. Practice ladder safety while hanging the lights: weight capacity should include the weight of tools and decorations on the ladder.

Staff Sgt. Geraldo Greaves, 20th Fighter Wing safety specialist, said two errors he often sees are people standing on the top step of the ladder and overreaching when hanging decorations, which tips the ladder to the side.

Although there are many potential hazards present at home, the open road is no different.

“Plan ahead,” said Greaves. “Check your vehicle for serviceability before you go on long road trips, check weather conditions, make sure you’re well rested and take breaks if you need to.”

While some holiday aspects are only common this time of year, other hazards are year-round.

Have a plan when consuming alcohol and never drink and drive, said Greaves. The Air Force recommends a 0-0-1-3 approach to drinking, meaning zero driving under the influence, zero underage drinking, and one drink per hour to a maximum of three drinks per night.

“Prevention is key to safety,” said Berry. “If you are thinking about the pitfalls and hazards that are ahead of you before you participate in activities, it’s going to be a lot safer.”

Activities arise during the holiday season that have dangers of their own, but no matter the situation, following safety tips and user instructions as well as using risk management skills to assess the situation can help prevent potential mishaps.