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Practice awareness and safety during winter weather

During the winter, arctic warriors and families are reminded to be aware of winter hazards while driving. When winter weather makes driving conditions hazardous Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson has three reporting options: mission-essential reporting, delayed reporting, and early release, as well as four road condition advisories: green, amber, red and black. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

During the winter, arctic warriors and families are reminded to be aware of winter hazards while driving. When winter weather makes driving conditions hazardous Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson has three reporting options: mission-essential reporting, delayed reporting, and early release, as well as four road condition advisories: green, amber, red and black. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- As the holidays approach and the temperature begins to drop, it is time to prepare homes, cars, and families for times of inclement weather involving extreme cold, snow, and ice.

When the 375th Air Mobility Wing responds to a winter weather event, the base focuses first on a couple key areas: the airfield, base emergency routes and 24-hour work center parking lots and sidewalks. Then the additional parking lots and secondary streets are tackled.

The 375th Civil Engineer Squadron prepares for winter weather by re-stocking road salt supply, doubling the airfield de-ice chemical stockpile and ensuring snow removal equipment is fully operational.

When winter weather arrives, the 375th AMW leadership does its best to track the rapidly changing weather, monitor on- and off-base road conditions, and balance safety with mission accomplishment. With the rapidly changing and difficult-to-predict weather conditions in the Midwest, the base strives to announce base closures and reporting delays well enough in advance so base employees can plan ahead.

Matthew Lynn, 375th CES Emergency Management, said, "Be aware of the environment, be aware of the situation and make sure that you are safe. Safety always comes first."

Preparing a house for the winter is as important as preparing a family. Carbon monoxide poisoning happens more in the winter than any other time of year. Inspect and maintain your detectors to avoid any issues. Freezing pipes are common during this time of year and can be very costly when they break. Before heavy snow fall, make sure there are no weak areas in the roofing or supports of a home.

In a Nov. 16 press release, St. Clair County Sheriff Richard Watson said, "The risk of being involved in a serious or deadly car crash increases when the number of cars on the road increases. I urge everyone traveling on our state's roadways this holiday season to drive carefully, do not drive impaired and, most importantly, buckle up, every trip, every time--day or night."

It's safer not to drive in bad winter weather, but sometimes people must leave their homes. Keeping the fuel tank as close to full as possible and checking the tire pressure is suggested because the cold weather causes the tire pressure to lower.

Making sure all essential and scheduled maintenance is done to avoid any break downs is also recommended.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.

Winter weather can be extremely dangerous but with the proper precautions it can be a season to enjoy. Many resources can be used to help determine when it's safe to travel to work during winter weather.

Reporting to work:

Depending on the circumstances of the winter weather activity, the installation commander may authorize the following:

EARLY RELEASE: Unit commanders and supervisors are authorized to release non-mission essential personnel according to the guidelines of the early release notification. All non-mission essential personnel will need to pick up their children from the Child Development Centers and Youth Center. Units are encouraged to stagger their release to avoid congestion while exiting the base.

DELAYED REPORTING AUTHORIZED: The purpose for delayed reporting during hazardous weather conditions is to allow base personnel additional time for safe travel to the base if needed. Delayed reporting applies to military and civilian personnel; leave will not be charged for the authorized delay period. Personnel are expected to arrive as soon as safety permits, not necessarily wait the full delay time if it is not needed.

DELAYED REPORTING (REPORT NO EARLIER THAN SPECIFIED TIME): There will also be instances of delayed reporting for non-mission essential personnel, specifying not to report prior to a specific time. This allows base recovery personnel time to plow snow from streets and parking lots ahead of your arrival. When a specific time is given to report, personnel should not report earlier than the specified time. The CDCs and Youth Center will only accept drop-offs for children of mission-essential personnel until the specified time. During these situations, only the Belleville and Shiloh Gates will be open unless otherwise announced, so please plan your arrival accordingly and work with your supervisor or work center for any other reporting requirements. Staggered reporting is encouraged to minimize congestion at the gates.

*Please note that during any delayed reporting situation, the Commissary, the Exchange and other customer service activities may also have a delay in opening. Those with medical appointments will be contacted by the medical clinic to reschedule appointments if necessary. For those with off base appointments, please check with your physician for appointment status and expect delays.

MISSION-ESSENTIAL ONLY REPORTING: Personnel identified by their commanders as mission-essential are to report for duty. Civilian personnel not required to report will be placed on administrative leave as granted by the installation commander. Only those children of designated mission-essential personnel are allowed to be dropped off at the CDCs and Youth Center. During these times, the Commissary and the Exchange will be closed unless otherwise stated and all other base activities cancelled as well.

Notification channels:

In addition to AtHoc messages being sent as required, information about inclement weather base operating procedures will be released through:

Scott AFB website: www.scott.af.mil

Straight Talk Line at 256-SAFB (7232)

Scott AFB Facebook page (which has a direct link on www.scott.af.mil )

Base-wide emails (for early release only).

The Team Scott community is also highly encouraged to check these sources first.

KTVI Channel 2 (www.fox2now.com)

KMOV Channel 4 (www.kmov.com)

KSDK Channel 5 (www.ksdk.com)

Servicemembers and civilians unsure of base operating procedures or their reporting status should speak with their supervisor or unit commander.

Remember, Scott Elementary is in the Mascoutah School District. If Mascoutah schools are closed, Scott Elementary is also closed even if the base is open. If the base is closed but Mascoutah schools are open, then Scott Elementary is also open.

One of the best local resources for off-base road conditions is the Illinois Department of Transportation's road condition website. Their interactive map will provide road conditions including surface temperatures. If the roads are less than 32 degrees ice should be expected. The website is www.gettingaroundillinois.com.