Fort McCoy News January 23, 2015

Council discusses community safety practices, issues

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy's Safety and Occupational Health Advisory/Community Health Promotion Council met Jan. 13 to discuss community safety issues.

Safety Specialist Don Vender, Installation Safety Office (ISO), directed the quarterly meeting, which includes representatives from tenant and garrison organizations. The meeting highlighted several safety topics and provided updates from representatives in attendance.

Photo for Safety Council article
Safety Specialist Don Vender (right), Installation Safety Office, talks with representatives from across Fort McCoy during the Jan. 13 Safety and Occupational Health Advisory/Community Health Promotion Council meeting in building 905.

Vender discussed the Army's new "Ready or Not?" safety campaign, available at https://safety.army.mil. Randy Eddy, ISO manager, said the Army updates the campaign theme and style every two years.

The safety campaign is designed to heighten awareness of risk factors by telling individuals and leaders to ask themselves one question — "Are you or your organization ready for what is about to happen?" Eddy said.

Winter safety was the leading topic of discussion. Vender noted that before traveling on roads throughout Wisconsin in the winter, people can get the status of state road conditions by calling 5-1-1, or by visiting the website, www.511wi.gov.

Sgt. Tony Green, recruit class program director at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy, said the 511 phone line and website are excellent sources of information.

"You can learn about where construction is taking place, about road conditions and more," Green said. "The website also shows views from highway cameras on some of the busiest roads throughout the state. It's definitely a great tool when preparing for a trip."

Vender said in winter, everyone should keep several items on hand in their vehicles in case of an emergency as part of a survival kit. These items include a first-aid kit, additional warm clothes, blankets or sleeping bags, water and food, a shovel, a bag of sand or cat litter, a flashlight and a candle with matches or a lighter, jumper cables and a cellphone charger.

"When you travel, make sure you have plenty of gas in your vehicle as well," Vender said. "We recommend you never go below a half-tank of gas in case something happens."

Management of risk factors with winter sports and recreational activities also was addressed. With sledding, skiing, skating and snowboarding, people should know their limitations and remember fatigue is a factor for injuries.

Ice fishermen should be aware of thin-ice hazards and know that ice never is 100 percent safe.

A standard rule of thumb to remember is ice should be at least 4-inches thick for a person to walk on and be at least 15-inches thick before driving a vehicle the size of a pickup truck on the ice, Vender said.

People using snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles should wear appropriate cold-weather gear and a helmet, avoid excessive speed and alcohol, and watch for trail hazards.

For winter safety at home, Vender said people should know their limitations when shoveling snow. Shovel with legs bent and bend at the knees, and "you should pace yourself" when moving snow.

"We haven't had a lot of reports of injuries of people slipping and falling on ice so far, but there is a lot of winter ahead," Eddy said. "Be careful around icy areas."

Vender said the ISO has samples to show and information on sources for inexpensive ice cleats that can be worn over footwear to prevent slipping on ice.

Also highlighted was privately owned weapons safety. Vender said gun owners should always keep guns unloaded and locked. Also, with Wisconsin's small-game hunting season still open, hunters are reminded to "think before you pull the trigger."

Capt. Richard Jackson of the Fort McCoy Police Department said weapons always should be treated as if they are loaded, should be handled with care, and people should never mix alcohol consumption and weapons usage. "Weapons safety means using good, common sense," Jackson said.

Anyone with a need for gun lock, which are free as part of Operation Child Safe, should call Jackson at 608-388-4546.

Curt Ladwig, Fort McCoy Fire Department fire inspector, discussed the importance of fire safety during the winter months.
"Homes are more susceptible to fires this time of year," Ladwig said. "Have a plan on what you and your family will do in case of a fire, to include having a designated meeting place and an escape plan.

"Also, having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home doubles your chance for survival," Ladwig said. "Test those detectors monthly; keep a minimum of three feet of clearance when using space heaters; keep chimneys clear, and make sure dryer vents are clear. Being proactive is the best way to survive a fire."

Other topics addressed:

• Fort McCoy Form 354 (safety incident reporting form) has been updated to be a PDF-fillable form for easier customer use. "Please utilize this form when needed," Eddy said. "If you use the form to report an accident or incident, we ask that we receive it within 48 hours."

• Quarry Hill Road remains open, however Eddy said drivers should use caution if traveling on the road and on any of the gravel roads throughout the post. Gravel roads, after plowing, will have a certain amount of ice build-up and drivers should manage their speed and be extra careful when traversing the roads.

• Michelle Bourman was introduced as the new drug testing technician at Fort McCoy's Army Substance Abuse Program.

• As members of the Fort McCoy community travel about the post, the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) asks that if anyone sees possible unsafe roadways, buildings and other exterior areas to call the DPW Help Line at (608) 388-4357.

• The Fort McCoy Police Department asks drivers to slow down for wintry road conditions. Excessive speed has been a factor in recent minor accidents on the installation.

• The next council roundtable meeting in building 905 will be April 14.