Winter Watch

Storm could strike anytime

One week ago we issued a "Friendly Reminder" regarding the clearing of snow from around the posts holding mailboxes and paper tubes. That way, postal and newspaper carriers would have an easier time delivering news and information.

Since then, the snow has melted away and all but a few rugged ridges remain at corners and along buildings. Things seem to have evened out. Then, Crystal Noyes of Hood River wrote this newspaper with a warning of the dangers she believes students face in riding school buses. She cited the Nov. 28 incident in which a bus slid off Indian Creek Road, asking, "is this a safe way to get children to and from school?"

The answer, essentially, is "yes," though it is always a parent's discretion to send their child to school in case of inclement weather. The school district has maintained its 1.25 million-mile accident-free record, a remarkable rolling achievement.

Yet Noyes is right to point out what she calls "an annual problem," of students forced to "wake up and trudge through the snow, slush and ice to get to their bus stops." That is, winter always brings its hazards.

Preparations and precautions are in order.

Exactly 20 years ago, this newspaper succinctly described the first snowfall that year as causing "more headaches than emergencies."

That describes what we have seen so far this year, but the next snowstorm might bring more than inconvenience. Questions such as how safe are our children in these situations should be paramount. School officials were frustrated at the number of high school students who drove to work in the snow, causing traffic snarls near the high school.

The subtle reminders of winter's pending power are all around us: snow warnings were issued in the western Gorge Monday morning, though little or no snow fell. With ample supplies already covering the Mt. Hood ski slopes, it stands to reason that the lowlands will have days of white.

Drive around the steep hills around Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital and near the downtown area. At street corners in those areas, the city has left the some reminders of what is likely to come again.

The portable, orange-striped barriers, which mark snow-closed streets, lean against power poles, stand waiting their turn. It's prudent of the city to leave them in a handy position, ready for the next storm. They will be needed again, soon.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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