FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Soldiers from 1st Theater Sustainment Command finished off the month of October with winter and holiday season safety training designed to remind them of hazards they might encounter during the winter months here.
On Oct. 29, small groups of Soldiers and Civilians moved through five separate training stations throughout the morning and finished with a barbeque lunch provided by the 1st TSC’s Special Troops Battalion.
“The training was quick and to the point,” said Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Brewer, transportation planner, 1st TSC, who helped cook lunch.
“They hit the key elements and then showed us how to fix them,” he added.
Master Sgt. Jason Trevino, noncommissioned officer in charge of the surgeon cell, 1st TSC, provided an overview of COVID-19 safety during trick-or-treating as well as pumpkin-carving safety. He reminded everyone to use the proper tools when carving pumpkins.
“Don’t use one of your large kitchen knives for the job,” he said.
Trevino noted that 44% of injuries this time of year from cuts carving pumpkins. He encouraged Soldiers to use the small tools sold specifically for carving.
Safety coordinated with members of the Fort Knox Fire Department to brief Soldiers on Thanksgiving and Christmas season fire safety at another station. The firefighters showed two videos that left an immediate impact on viewers.
“That tree lit up so fast,” Staff Sgt. Steven Gonzalez, materiel management noncommissioned officer, 1st TSC, commented after viewing a tree safety video that showed just how quickly a dry, real tree burns and how it only takes about 40 seconds to burn down an entire room.
“It only takes 10 seconds for a dry Christmas tree to be completely engulfed in flames,” one firefighter said.
They also shared a video discussing how to safely deep fry a turkey. The video recommended setting up the fryer outside and away from any wooden structures, and to keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Turn off the burner and ensure the turkey is completely thawed before placing it into the hot oil and never leave a frying turkey unattended to avoid unintended fires and injury.
Firefighters also reminded people to use indoor cords inside and outdoor cords for holiday lights outside. They also explained that cords can wear quickly or split under rugs or through doorways resulting in fire.
Eric Schweighauser, safety and occupational health manager, 1st TSC, reviewed winter driving. He shared how to check tire tread life with a penny.
“Place the penny into the tread bust down, and if the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head is visible, the tires are worn and should be replaced,” he said.
Schweighauser encouraged drivers to also add a cold-weather kit to their trunk that includes a blanket, flare, food and water. He also reminded everyone to change their vehicle’s fluids to those made for the winter months and get a good window scraper and a lock deicer.
The safety manager also reviewed with Soldiers that winter storms can develop quickly in Northern Kentucky and that black ice presents a real danger. He said that it takes 4.5 seconds to stop a car travelling at 50 mph on a dry road, and much longer to react and stop with snow, rain or ice.
Chris Morabito, explosive safety specialist, 1st TSC, taught ladder safety. The main message he had for everyone was to ensure that all locks are in place when using a step, extension, or hybrid ladder.
A step ladder has the two locks near the top that spread when it’s opened.
“It just takes a second to push down on the locks to make sure they’re secure,” Morabito said. That one second could potentially prevent a fall. He also reminded everyone that the top was not a step.
He demonstrated how the two locks keep an extension ladder in place, and encouraged everyone to double check that these locks are secure.
“When using an extension ladder, confirm there are three rungs above the top of where you place the ladder,” he added.
“Check for overhead electrical wires and always maintain three points of contact too,” Morabito said.
He also advised Soldiers not to use a painted ladder, because it’s hard to assess its condition.
Morabito described a safe ladder angle where a user is able to touch a ladder when standing on the ground at its base.
Lastly, Shirley Johnson, Army Substance Abuse Program specialist for Fort Knox, taught the dangers of binge drinking as we begin what he calls the alcohol misuse season.
“The hazards of binge drinking will jeopardize the things that are most important to you,” Johnson said.
He describes binge drinking as having more than 14 drinks per week, and he recommends having no more than two drinks per day.
A standard drink is measured as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 72-proof liquor. They all contain about the same amount of alcohol.
Johnson provided Fatal Vision Impairment Goggles for Soldiers to wear while driving a golf kart through a course marked with cones. The goggles allowed the driver to see just how poorly they drive under the influence of alcohol.
Staff Sgt. Janel Valdez, materiel manager, 1st TSC took the driving challenge.
“You think you’re driving straight, but you’re not,” Valdez said.
Driving the golf kart “virtually impaired” demonstrated to Soldiers just how poorly they drive under the influence but in a controlled environment. Many drivers knocked over cones maneuvering the course and said they felt dizzy after removing the goggles.
There are almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day in America, and about 28 people die every day in a drunk driving crash. Armed with knowledge and awareness, Johnson encouraged everyone who went through his station not to risk become part of these statistics and to celebrate the holiday season responsibly if they do choose to drink.