With the promise of a white Christmas suddenly upon us, and one that the National Weather Service predicts could arrive in a fairly big way over the next few days, I’d like to ask everyone in our communities to be ready for whatever the weather might bring.
We have the best prediction of the snow storms that are approaching, and a measure of sensible preparedness can help us all get through more easily than if we wait until the snow has fallen.
If you don’t have to drive, it’s best for everyone if you stay off the roads – get your groceries and supplies in now, before the storms hit, and then hunker down cozy until road crews can get the roads plowed and passable. If you do have to drive, pack cold weather supplies in your vehicle before you set out just in case. Water, food, a good flashlight with extra batteries. A warm blanket, extra clothing, including gloves and winter boots if you’re not wearing them to drive. A shovel is handy in case you get stuck in the snow. You should already have chains in your vehicle – if you haven’t used them before, go over the instructions.
As with all the first snowfalls of the season, law enforcement and emergency responders are likely to be kept busy during a heavy snowfall as people are still in summer driving mode and haven’t fully made the shift to winter conditions. The key is to slow down until you get a feel for the road, then to drive for the conditions..
Avoid spinning your tires when you start by gently pressing your gas pedal until the car starts to roll. Remember that snow tires will slide on ice or packed snow, so keep your distance. Reduce your speed to correspond with conditions. There is no such thing as a “safe” speed range at which to drive on snow or ice. Keep an eye out for plows and sand trucks and give them room. Look a bit farther down the road so you can anticipate upcoming maneuvers; avoid any quick turns or stops that will send you into a slide.
Another tip from our EMS and fire personnel are to clearly mark your driveways, and keep them as clear of snow as possible. There is nothing more heartbreaking in a major snowstorm than seeing a family lose their home to fire because the trucks couldn’t get in, or worse, to lose a family member because an ambulance couldn’t find the place, especially in the dark, or get to it because they were snowed in.
Make arrangements with people in your community who offer plowing to keep your drive clear before the snow falls. If you have a plow and see that your neighbors need help and you are able, pitch in and help. There’ll be time to haggle later.
One of the greatest things about living in Boundary County is that when the weather takes a turn for the worse or a disaster strikes, our residents are always there for one another. Neighbors look out for one another and help each other, forgetting whatever animosity they may have indulged when skies are sunny.
Another good idea, especially with friends and family visiting for the holidays, post emergency numbers by each landline telephone in the house, and if possible, give each out of towner with a cell phone with important numbers. Nearly everyone knows 911 for emergencies, but what about the number to call if the power goes out? In an emergency, you never know who will need to call for help, so the more who are prepared, the better.