It’s better to stay safe at home in storms

In the good old days, people made wiser choices when the weather was dangerous and uncertain, recalls columnist.

It's better to stay safe inside when snow storms hit

It's better to stay safe inside when snow storms hit

Though blizzards and whiteouts can be deadly, they’re also quite beautiful if viewed from a safe vantage.

The two-day storm two weekends ago took me back to my childhood when a storm meant no school, especially if the temperature was well below zero.

I would watch from Mom’s bedroom window as a curtain of snow as high as the ridge on the barn whipped across the scene obliterating the red building.

During such weather farmers stayed home except for essential chores like watering the cattle. Teachers expected to see only town kids … and maybe not.

Kids didn’t insist on heading off to an evening hockey game or some scheduled social.

Yet despite today’s accurate weather reports and stern warnings from police to stay off the highways unless absolutely necessary, news videos showed private vehicle after vehicle racing along main highways in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, many of them at speeds exceeding road conditions. Some ended in car pileups of 30 or more, shutting down a length of major highway for hours.

One snowmobile rider was hit broadside by a semi going 70 km per hour when he attempted to leave the highway but his machine spun around on ice. He ended up in hospital with a broken leg and a broken arm.

Besides putting their own lives in jeopardy, motorists force first responders, police, ambulance and tow truck drivers to be out in those hazardous conditions to rescue the dimwits. Not fair.

Staying at home during a blizzard is an easy decision for me to make. When the houses across the street are a blur, a snow drift is climbing my gate, and no traffic is passing by, I know the streets in town will be hazardous underfoot and pedestrians could be largely invisible to vehicles. Even a trip on city transit holds no appeal.

I cancelled a 9:30 medical appointment, made a new date for a day when I estimated both the roads and the streets would be cleaned.

Then I picked up a book, knowing I’d have no visitors. My rule with my family is, “Take care and stay safe. I’ll take care of me.”

Other than running short of 3.25% milk, which I buy only a litre at a time unless I know I’ll host guests who drink milk, I keep on hand plenty of powdered skim should I run short for myself.

My pantry is amply stocked with baking essentials, canned goods, dried legumes and fruits.

And I have three extra bags of dog food brought in before this storm… just in case.

So long as hydro and cable aren’t interrupted, I have plenty of ways to amuse myself. I can read newspapers and magazines, or email or  phone relatives in other provinces to find out how their weather is that day.

Whenever we call, we ask two questions. It’s a toss up which question we’ll lead with. “How is everyone?” or “What kind of weather are you having?”

If their weather is worse than ours, all we can do is commiserate and compare.

Neither of us can improve the other’s weather, but knowing their temperature and conditions grounds the rest of our conversation. One of those Canadian prairie idiosyncrasies.

Often a lengthy blizzard is followed by calm and brilliant sunshine that tugs you outdoors even if you have to shovel to get off the front porch.

The street comes alive with snowblowers humming and folks clearing their driveways, akin to gophers popping up on knolls green with early grass to test their whistle.

Let this snowstorm be the last this winter.

Claudette Sandecki keeps her larder well-stocked at her home in Thornhill, B.C.

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