Fort Bragg officials, local police provide tips for remaining vigilant during spouse deployment
May 10, 2012
Picture it. You're at the mall shopping. It's time to take your bags to the car. What do you do?
Well, take the bags to the car, lock them in the trunk and then proceed to move your vehicle to another parking location.
Don't make the mistake of leaving the car in the same spot. A potential thief could be watching to see if you return to the store and once you have, he or she could steal the packages from the trunk.
It is a common mistake not to move the vehicle, said Gavin MacRoberts, a spokesman with the Fayetteville Police Department. But, everyone should use common sense.
Personal safety: MacRoberts also has other cautionary tips to maintain personal safety. Some of those include having keys in hand to be used as a potential weapon when going to a vehicle; maintaining awareness of surroundings; and keeping windows and doors locked.
"A lot of safety tips we (police) give to the general public are applicable to Soldiers as well, said MacRoberts who acknowledged that Soldiers are often deployed from home for long periods of time. When a servicemember is away from home, he or she should have someone collect the mail or have the mail held by the post office. Another safety measure that could be used is to place lights on a timer to give the impression that someone is at home.
MacRoberts also has advice for the Family member who has a deployed spouse, particularly women who are home alone while their husbands serve overseas -- answer the door if someone knocks or rings the doorbell said MacRoberts Oftentimes, a robber is checking to see if someone is home or checking to determine if the house is occupied. A woman can also take the simple precaution of thwarting a robber by calling for her husband especially when he's not there by saying, 'honey, get the door.'"
On the installation, with all the high-risk exercises in which Soldiers engage, safety should always be of concern, said Capt. Douglas Ray, public affairs officer for the 16th Military Police Brigade. On any given day, those high-risk exercises could involve live fire, airborne operations and range activities, he explained.
"Every operation like that is required to have a risk management process completed prior to it," Ray said. "With all the commands we have, safety should be the first thing in every Soldier's mind regardless of rank or position. "Every Soldier is a safety officer," said Ray.
Being a safety officer means maintaining safety consciousness and correcting those who make mistakes. If someone is texting while driving, tell the person to stop, but be aware that distracted driving does not simply include texting or talking on the cellphone, it also includes eating or grooming as well, Ray said.
Traffic safety: According to traffic safety data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2009 (the last year for which figures where available) 5474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.
Safety is such an important issue that it commands the attention of Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, Ray said.
"He (the general) has commanded all commands to try to eradicate using your cell phone while driving on the installation," Ray said.
If a Soldier is involved in an accident, the Army has to know about it within 24 hours.
To thwart safety violations, the Provost Marshal Office has partnered with the North Carolina Department of Transportation Governor's Highway Safety Program in its Booze It and Lose It and in its Click It or Ticket campaigns. The first penalizes those who drive while intoxicated and the latter issues violations for those who drive without buckling seatbelts.
In North Carolina, a DWI constitutes driving when an alcohol concentration meets or exceeds .08 or driving while under the influence or being affected by alcohol or other drugs.
State law imposes a $4,000 maximum fine for DWI offenses and allows vehicle seizure and forfeiture for a driver who is impaired and whose license is revoked for DWI, or who is impaired and has no license and no insurance.
According to Richard Eppler, garrison safety manager, servicemembers who are cited for a DWI can be barred from driving on the installation.
"When the ticket is processed, the system will automatically bar that person from the post," Eppler said.
If the servicemember hires a lawyer to get the case dismissed or is not convicted, the Soldier still has to get his or her privileges reinstated through the staff judge advocate.
The servicemember then has to appear before Col. Stephen Sicinkski, Fort Bragg Garrison commander, who makes the final decision as to whether or not the servicemember may be allowed to drive on post, Eppler said.
But, violating safe driving laws and falling prey to overconsumption pitfalls should not be a worry for servicemembers as Fort Bragg has measures in place to aid them. Information and referrals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Army One Source, which may be contacted at 800-464-8107.
In regards to safety, physical safety is not the only concern of Fort Bragg leadership, so is safety on social media sites as well.
Safety tips: According to Ray, some safety tips to adhere to while using Facebook include:
Only friend people you know
Create a good password and use it only for Facebook
Change the password on a regular basis
Use secure browsing whenever possible
Keep anti-virus software updated
Log out to protect your account
Finally, spring ushers in the time of year when Soldiers and leadership pay close attention to the dangers of working in extreme heat. To avoid heat-related injuries, Ray recommends avoiding hot foods and heavy meals, which could add heat to the core body temperature; limiting sun exposure during mid-day hours; drinking plenty of fluids; replacing salts and minerals in the body by consuming sports drinks; and by wearing sunscreen to avoid skin damage.
Safety is of the utmost concern and is everyone's responsibility, which ultimately guarantees that Soldiers remain mission-ready and productive members of the armed forces.
Each unit has a safety manager person down to the brigade level, said Ray.
If a Soldier has any safety concerns, he or she should contact the unit's safety management person.
(Editors note: This is part one of a part two part series.)