The winter holiday season, with all its wonderful sight, sounds, and family gatherings have arrived. As you prepare to enjoy cherished moments, with your friends and families, I ask each of you to keep safety in all of your plans.

Throughout December and the winter months, many are busy with holiday events, traveling to visit friends and family, and attending holiday gatherings. Each of these activities shares a common risk—they all involve travel and the potential for accidents. Although we routinely accept travel risks as a part of everyday life, the risks can become more prevalent when distracted by holiday activities. Roadways are usually more congested, so expect delays and plan your trips accordingly. This will reduce unnecessary stress. Prepare an emergency kit to help you in the event of inclement weather. Start your trip well rested and plan to take periodic breaks if you will be traveling long distances. Drive sensibly, yet defensively, and always use your seat belts and insist that your passengers use them also. The upcoming holiday travel season is an ideal time to become familiar with and use the Travel Risk Planning System (TRiPS) at, (CAC/PIV required). This tool helps to reduce or eliminate the chance of an accident occurring while traveling during the holiday season.

Drinking and Driving can be a very serious problem during the holidays with even more serious consequences. If your holiday activities include indulging in alcoholic beverages, please take care to designate a safe driver or arrange an alternate safe means of transportation prior to celebrating.

Practice safety as you decorate for the holidays. Fires caused by strings of lights, frayed cords, and candles can be prevented. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the use of holiday lights, check for and only use approved lights and extension cords. Remember not to “string” multiple extension cords together. Ensure trees and other greenery have plenty of water to preclude premature dehydration. Do not leave burning candles unattended, and be attentive to wood-burning fireplaces and stoves.

Remember: Food has a shelf life. If food is not properly handled, illnesses can occur. As you attend and participate in holiday parties and celebrations, ensure leftover food is promptly refrigerated and/or discarded if not consumed.

Most important, please enjoy this holiday season and special time of the year. My family joins me in wishing you and your families a safe and enjoyable winter holiday season, and all the very best in the coming new year!