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Getting into the “spring” of things

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
The flowers are in bloom, warm winds have kicked up and our calendars are quickly filling with outdoor and other activities. Even though the official start of spring is still about a week out, I think that many people are ready and eager to declare an early end to winter so they can begin experiencing the joy of a change of season and the summer that is sure to shortly follow.

With that in mind, I want us to take a moment to visit some seasonal safety concerns which reappear each year like clockwork, much like the tulips in front of the Scott Field gate.

And, much like those flowers which are appearing everywhere, so are our motorcycle riders (who can blame them considering the price of gas?). This is especially important since we have grown used to not seeing them all through winter. For those who ride motorcycles, I urge you to review safety requirements and realize that after a season off, your skills may be a little rusty. Please take the time to refresh those skills by taking some of the available courses offered by wing safety and spending time riding with other seasoned, experienced cyclists.
In fact, our 375th AMW Safety Office is sponsoring a big spring rider safety day April 20 starting at 9 a.m. in the base theater with a Safety Day All Call. Afterwards, there'll be vendor booths and other events at the ALS Pavilion, so it'll be a great time to refresh those skills. They also sponsor motorcycle safety courses starting April 4 so give them a call at 256-6311 to sign up. Our safety professionals remind us that motorcycles should be checked out each season to ensure they're in good operating condition and for riders to be aware of road hazards left over from winter such as potholes and extra sand or gravel. Drivers also need to be aware of blind spots that could be shielding a rider from view. The last thing we want is a fatality knowing that it could have been avoided. Riding is a risky proposition, but there are several ways to mitigate those risks, and that's what I require you to do .

Motorized two wheelers aren't the only areas for spring concerns either as we recently had an incident involving a bicyclist who got hit by a driver. Thankfully, the rider was OK, however as a reminder, anyone who rides a bike must follow traffic laws, i.e. stopping at stop signs, and not riding on sidewalks outside of the housing areas. Also, cyclists should not be crossing at crosswalks unless they are walking the bike, and they are required to wear helmets and be equipped with headlights and rear lights during the hours of darkness. We have these safety boundaries set up to make sure you arrive alive at your destination! We must all encourage a culture of compliance to mitigate the risks that could cause harm.

Another important issue to be addressed is that this is the season for tornadoes. We've already had some tornadic conditions, and I've heard your feedback about notifications and ability to hear sirens. I realize that some people in Lincolns Landing may not be able to hear our sirens especially if you are inside your home. We are looking into how we can solve that issue, but in the meantime, we just ask everyone to be aware of the changing conditions and respond as best you can.

Sirens that indicate a tornado has been sighted or is developing in the immediate area are three minute series of short siren blasts. Please note that the sirens on base will only go off when our Team Scott 15th Operational Weather Squadron forecasters sound the alarm as it means a tornado warning is in effect for the base and a 5-mile radius. You may hear sirens from the local townships (qued from the National Weather Service) and not the base, and vice versa, and that is the reason why.

In the event of a tornado, seek shelter in a storm cellar, basement, center of the house or under a table, bed or mattress. If you are outside, lie flat in a ditch or culvert, but watch for flooding. Be sure to check out more information on tornado safety in this week's paper (see page A10) and also on our website: www.scott.af.mil.

Sometimes the changes in weather can be sudden, so it's best to review safety procedures beforehand and ensure everyone in your family knows what to do. Do you know where to go? Do you have some supplies on hand in your work sections and homes, i.e. water, gloves, food? Do you have a family emergency plan and know what to do if phone lines go down or the power goes out?

While we're on the watch for stormy weather, another reminder that we're in full spring is that it gets extremely windy and tends to blow trash out of its containers. Please keep an eye out for floating debris and let's all do our job to ensure our facilities and homes stay clean. We can all show pride in our surroundings by helping out in this area.

As a reminder, housing residents received new containers for curbside recycling which begins next week for those who live in Patriot's Landing. All other neighborhoods will start their curbside recycling March 26. From then on, the pickup will occur every other week. This is a great way to help reduce waste, but please also ensure these recyclables don't take an unexpected tour through the neighborhoods.

Let's be safe out there and take a few moments to review safety precautions and disaster preparation tips as we "spring" through this season of change.