Columbus Day weekend safety
Col. Christopher M. Benson, Franconia Military Community commander, encourages members of the FMC to stay safe during the long Columbus Day weekend Oct. 11 through 14 and during the upcoming autumn and winter seasons.

ANSBACH, Germany (Oct. 9, 2013) -- Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a trade route to India. On October 14, we celebrate Columbus Day to recognize this legendary explorer and the courage, strength and determination that led to the discovery of the Americas.

That spirit of exploration, courage and determination that led to the New World's discovery embodies our nation and has led to some of the greatest achievements in science, health, social politics and sea and space exploration. That spirit continues to thrive and inspire Americans.

Columbus Day is also the first holiday of the fiscal year and the fall season. Fall usually means cooler temperatures, foggy or rainy weather, shorter daylight hours, frost or black ice and falling leaves, all of which increase the risk of vehicle accidents and slips, trips and falls. Whether your plans for the extended weekend involve going on your own voyage of discovery, riding your motorcycle one last time before storing it for the winter, or lounging around the home, don't relax your safety vigilance and allow an accident to ruin your holiday.

If your weekend plans include traveling, please ensure your vehicle is equipped with all-season tires, identified by the "M+S" (Mud and Snow) logo embossed on the sidewall. German states require vehicle tires to have a minimum of 1.6 millimeter (2/32 inch) tread depth over the entire traction surface from Oct. 1 through April 20 when winter road conditions generally occur. In Austria, the minimum tire tread depth is 4 millimeters starting Nov. 1. Before you take to the road, check your vehicle's lights, windshield wipers and fluid levels and repair as needed to ensure your vehicle is road ready. Don't forget to check the weather forecast along the route and at your intended destination and plan accordingly. Above all, buckle up for safety and never drive impaired.

For motorcyclists, please remember to wear all the gear all the time (ATGATT) because public streets and the autobahns are filled with hazards, including other motorists. However, wearing ATGATT does not make you invincible. If you ride precariously and at speeds too fast for road or traffic conditions, or ride beyond your skills, you are likely to crash. When you crash at excessive speeds, ATGATT may not protect you. Therefore, always ride at speeds that will allow you to safely avoid hazards. If the hazard or collision is unavoidable, wearing ATGATT combined with a lower, safer speed should help minimize or even prevent grave bodily injury.

If you plan on staying close to home and relaxing in front of your fireplace with a good book or to watch TV, be sure to have your fireplace inspected by a qualified chimneysweeper for proper operation before you use it. During the upcoming winter months, your fireplace will be in full use and your windows will be closed, so consider installing a carbon monoxide and smoke detectors throughout your home but especially near your bedrooms. If your home is equipped with detectors, check the year they were manufactured to be sure they have not outlived their lifecycle (Note: most smoke detectors have a lifecycle of 8 to 10 years and carbon monoxide detectors have a lifecycle of 5 years). Check any electric blankets or portable heaters for serviceability before the weather turns colder. Make sure the safety features of the electrical devices function properly before you need to put them to use.

Remain vigilant and enjoy your Columbus Day weekend. Please return to us rested, healthy and ready to help us meet the challenges of the new fiscal year. We need you!

Page last updated Wed October 9th, 2013 at 00:00