Here Comes Spring! Published April 3, 2023 By Lisa Gonzales Air Force Safety Center KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- As spring’s warmer weather begins to push the gloomy winter weather away, many of us will begin to emerge from our winter shelters and begin those home improvement projects put off because of cold weather. We will be cleaning gutters, clearing leaves, gardening or perhaps taking that first road trip to visit family and friends to go boating, camping, or enjoying the great outdoors. Before starting those home improvement projects, remember to do it like the pros! If you plan to use a ladder to clean gutters or trim trees, remember three points of contact; two hands and one foot or two feet and on hand on the ladder. Make sure the ladder is in good condition and position it on a solid, even surface, and never lean away from the ladder as that may cause it to tip over. Try this easy-to-use App from the National Institute for Occupational Safety to check the lean angle and see other great ladder tips: iPhone and Google Play. For many, gardening is a relaxing and fulfilling hobby, but remember proper lifting techniques when moving heavy bags of mulch or soil. Lifting the wrong way can lead to sprains, tendonitis, or breaks and can cause long term back problems down the road. Stretch and warm your muscles before you start raking leaves or other outside activities and take frequent breaks to give your body time to adapt to the movements. Spring has its own safety hazards – in fact, sudden spring showers, foggy mornings, or that late winter storm may roll in without warning. Spring showers can cause fog and low visibility for drivers heading into work or heading home, while hidden potholes can cause severe damage to vehicles. Drive slower during spring showers and avoid using cruise control as hydroplaning can occur. If your vehicle is hydroplaning, remain calm, slow down, don’t slam on your brakes, pump them lightly and steer into the skid until you regain traction. Always keep your vehicle maintained by checking tire pressure, fluids, windshield wipers and keep an emergency roadside kit with extra food and water in your vehicle at all times. In some areas of the country, severe thunderstorms, lightning, or flooding can occur during this time of year with little to no notice. Be proactive before you depart, and check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service spring presentation that gives helpful information on how to prepare and defend against the natural forces of nature. Many people enjoy spending time around the water during warm sunny days. Water activities like boating, fishing, or swimming in the ocean, rivers or pools can become deadly if you are not prepared. In areas warm enough to go in the water, swimming in open water takes more skill and strength than swimming in a pool. Take swimming lessons, wear a life jacket when on, near or in the water. Never leave children unattended and be sure they have life jackets on every time they are near the water. If swimming in the ocean, remember to look for beach flags before entering the water. Beach flags help alert swimmers about potential dangers, such as high surf or strong rip currents. If you get caught in a rip current remember to swim parallel to the beach to escape. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every year in the United States there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings, including boating-related drowning – that is an average of 11 drowning deaths per day. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, claiming an estimated 236,000 lives each year. For children ages 5-14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death. Either working or playing outside in the sun, remember dehydration can occur quickly. Hydrate often when participating in outdoor activities. Know the signs of heat stress/stroke, how to treat them and seek medical attention. Even in spring, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be harmful. To avoid sunburns, apply sunscreen to protect your skin, and for additional protection, consider wearing a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeve shirts. “I want every Airman and Guardian to enjoy time off this spring but do it safely and responsibly by doing a risk assessment for every activity,” said William Walkowiak, chief of occupational safety for the Department of the Air Force. “Whether exploring nature, doing yardwork, or riding a motorcycle, I encourage each of you to be committed to safety this spring because one bad decision can change your life.” For additional information on spring safety.