ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Rock Island Arsenal personnel gathered at Heritage Hall for Autumn / Winter Safety and Wellness Awareness Day, here Nov. 18.

The safety awareness event was designed to help RIA personnel better prepare for the holiday and winter season. This time of year poses an increased likelihood of accidents as weather worsens, households use more electricity, various personal health risk factors increase, and families spend more time preparing large meals for family gatherings.

About 25 information booths set up in Heritage Hall covered topics such as fire safety, substance abuse, sexual harassment, severe weather preparedness, health and wellness, auto safety, and food safety. Informational brochures were handed out at each booth.

"Safety is critical to workforce readiness," said Robert Petty, safety director, U.S. Army Sustainment Command.

"Individual safety and wellness -- as we perform our duties in support of the Department of Defense mission here at RIA -- equate to a more ready and resilient workforce. It's completely in line with Maj. Gen. Edward M. Daly's (ASC Commanding General) line of effort to provide a safe workforce across the entire installation, to include ASC," Petty said.

During the holidays and winter season, RIA fire inspector Daryle Wood said, more use of electricity, space heaters, candles and fireplaces can increase the likelihood of home fires.

Wood recommended the following safety measures:
• Check power strips and sockets to ensure you're not overloading them.
• Never leave candles, fireplaces, heaters or stoves unattended. Ensure they're far from flammable items.
• Use a safety screen with fireplaces and keep the area free of flammable items.
• Ensure you have fire extinguishers handy, that they're charged, and that your family knows how to use them.
• Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly.
• Ensure your family has a fire escape plan.
• Bonfires should have a 25-foot safety area around them, be attended at all times, have fire extinguishers and water within reach, not fueled with gas or lighter fluid, and not larger than 3 feet high and 3 feet around.

*Free and installed smoke alarms can be obtained through the American Red Cross's Home Fire Campaign at 309-277-4040 or on the Web at https://getasmokealarm.org .

Jerry Golden, U.S. Army Garrison -- RIA safety manager, shared the following installation safety tips:
• Pay attention to construction on the installation.
• Drivers should beware of wildlife and pedestrians in the road, and yield at crosswalks.
• Pedestrians should use crosswalks and be vigilant about vehicles.
• All vehicles should have safety kits that include flashlights, warning triangles, flares, blankets and extra cellphone chargers.
• When travelling, always have a travel plan and notify others of it.
• Keep your gas tank full and never leave your vehicle if you get stranded.
• Maintain a safe driving distance of six seconds in wet conditions.
• React to snow, ice, and rain with safe countermeasures such as counter-steering; avoid locking brakes and don't drive too fast for conditions.
• Drive sober and, if in need of a ride, call a taxi, family member, friend or coworker.
• Avoid driving distractions such as cellphone use and playing with onboard devices.

An American Red Cross brochure recommends additional items such as a shovel, jumper cables, sand or cat litter, an ice scraper, a battery operated radio, extra prescription medications, maps, a whistle and emergency contact cards.

Angel Mojica, safety officer, RIA Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, emphasized the elements and goals of the Voluntary Protection Program, an Occupational Health and Safety Administration workplace safety initiative.

"There's four elements to the VPP," said Mojica. "They are: management, employee and union support; worksite analysis; hazard prevention and control; and safety and health.

"The goals of VPP are: provide tools to mitigate risk, establish a positive safety climate, track progress, and reduce occurrences and accidents and lost time," Mojica said.

Additional workplace safety brochures were handed out about:
• Slips, trips and falls: Ensure workplaces are dry, free of hazards and well-lit.
• Personal Protective Equipment: Use as needed -- respiratory equipment, helmets, gloves, goggles, body protection and boots.
• Power hand tool safety: Handle with care -- inspect and know your equipment, and use safely.
• Office ergonomics: Sedentary positions can harm your body, so ensure you're using correct posture and take breaks to stretch and move around.
Camelia Austin, food management chief, Company Kitchen, recommended the following safety tips:
• When deep-frying turkeys, ensure the turkey is no larger than 15 pounds.
• Only deep fry turkeys outdoors, and do not do so in rain or snow.
• Never leave stoves, ovens, toasters or fryers unattended.
• Keep cooking spaces free of clutter, and keep anything flammable away from heat.
Jim Mettlin, Auto Craft shop manager, emphasized the following safety measures for vehicles:
• Use anti-freeze to prevent your engine block from freezing.
• Ensure your vehicle has winter wipers.
• Have alignment checked, use snow tires and ensure they have adequate tread depth.
• Have headlights, batteries, brakes, hoses and belts checked.
• Have exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks.
• Always warm your vehicle up before driving it.

Personal health and wellness information brochures and packets were distributed, ranging from the importance of healthy dieting, physical fitness and stress management, to various forms of addiction and prevention. Some key points include, but are not limited to:

• Avoid overeating and unhealthy foods; maintain a proper diet.
• Make time to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day.
 *Use the SuperTracker program at https://myplate.gov , and the MOVE program at www.move.va.gov .
• Get adequate sleep by turning off electronic devices at least an hour before going to sleep, going to sleep at the same time every day, practicing relaxation techniques before sleeping, don't smoke within two hours of going to sleep, never eat within four hours of going to sleep and avoid caffeine within six hours of going to sleep.
• Find assistance to quit smoking or drinking at the Army Substance Abuse Program / Employee Assistance Program (782-HELP) and at Alcoholics Anonymous (www.al-anon.alateen.org), or through the American Lung Association, 1-800-LUNG-USA or www.lungusa.org.
• Get breast cancer information at 877-GO-KOMEN or www.komen.org , or locally in the Quad Cities at 563-262-6215.
• Ensure children's toys are clean, instructions are followed and warning labels for recommended ages are abided by.
• When babies cry, keep calm and realize they are hungry, wet, tired, cold or possibly sick.
• The Child Abuse Council's basic training for new dads can be viewed at www.childabuseqc.org . They offer free workshops in the Quad Cities area.
• Avoid anger and express emotions in a safe way when dealing with children and loved ones.
• Physical violence is never okay; seek professional help if you're having trouble controlling emotions.
• Contact the local 24/7 Army Community Service Victim Advocacy Crisis Line at 309-912-6089; the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233; or the Department of Defense Safe Helpline at 877-995-5347 if you're a victim of emotional, physical, sexual, or other types of abuse -- including threats and harassment.
• Proper communication requires honesty and respect for boundaries, and avoids blame.

Finally, the American Red Cross has a Hero Care App (download at http://redcross.com/apps or text APPS to 90999) designed to help military, veterans and their families anywhere in the world with any issue they may have. The Hero Care App connects services such as emergency travel assistance and financial aid, behavioral health support, and connection to a large network of partnered organizations who specialize in specific problems such as Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Easter Seals, Labor Vets, and the VA Caregiver Support Program.