Autumn presents unique hazards

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Officials from the 66th Air Base Group Safety Office here encourage people to consider the hazards associated with the changing seasons to lessen their chance of a mishap.

Considerations include using risk management year-round to identify and mitigate risks before injury occurs to themselves, a member of their family or a coworker.

“Applying sound risk management principles before initiating any on- or off-duty activity will lessen the chance of injury,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Stavrinos, 66 ABG safety specialist. “There are several instances this time of year when practicing risk management is necessary.”

Among them is exercising outdoors with reduced daylight.

“People exercising outdoors now should use extra caution as it stays dark longer in the morning and gets dark earlier in the afternoon,” said Stavrinos. “Choose bright colors and wear reflective material while walking, running or cycling on or near roadways.”

In accordance with Massachusetts law, Hanscom law enforcement officials enforce the use of headlights 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset or when visibility is less than 500 feet.

“It’s also important to dim your headlights, turn off your windshield wipers, extinguish cigarettes, remove sunglasses and turn down the radio when approaching installation entry controllers,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jessica McWain, 66th Security Forces Squadron Operations and Training superintendent. “Doing this will eliminate distractions between security forces personnel and the driver and occupants of the vehicle.”

Daylight saving time will take place on Nov. 4 and base fire officials recommend using the occurrence to replace the batteries in home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“It’s also a good time to test those alarms with the new batteries installed to ensure each device is working properly,” said Stavrinos.

Safety officials are also seeing an increased use of electrical space heaters with average daily temperatures dropping.

“A space heater can increase the temperature and make an area more comfortable, but it’s important to use caution and read the instructions of the unit before you use it,” said Mason Robbins, Safety and Occupational Health specialist. “It’s recommended that there is at least three feet of free space around the space heater while in use.”

Another factor to consider when using a space heater is the ability to plug it directly into a wall outlet, not into power strips or extension cords.

Base safety officials also encourage people to use caution when decorating their yards for Halloween and other holidays.

“Walkways should be clear of tripping hazards and people should make sure they are using the proper outdoor electrical cords when decorating,” Stavrinos said.

Falling leaves can also present unsuspecting motorists with the potential for a vehicle mishap.

“Leaf-covered roads can be hiding hazards such as potholes or uneven pavement,” said Robbins. “In addition, wet leaf-covered roads can result in less traction between your tires and the road.”

For those living off the installation, officials offer tips before using fire pits or burning leaves and other yard debris.

“Check the weather conditions before having a fire to ensure there is a safe and controlled environment,” said Stavrinos. “Always contact your local fire department prior to starting any outside controlled burns or backyard bonfires.”

According to Hanscom fire officials, those living on base must never burn yard waste.

For more information, visit the Safety SharePoint site at or at People can also contact the Safety Office at 781-225-5584.