Editorial -- On the roads: Stay safe this Memorial Day, and take a moment to remember

Despite high gas prices, this year’s Memorial Day weekend is expected to pull high numbers of drivers onto the roads.

May all travelers get away and home again safely this weekend and any time they hit the road.

What happened on I-5 north of Seattle Thursday is a testament to the unexpected: A freeway bridge collapsed, with three cars falling into the Skagit River below. Miraculously, no one died.

The overall state of our nation’s roads and bridges is an editorial for another day. Suffice it to say you never know what can happen when you are on the highway, so the best thing to do is make sure those factors you can control are under your control.

Local law enforcement’s “safety blitz,” through next week, points to some of those:

n Buckle yourself in, or feel the effects of “Click It Or Ticket”; police are on the lookout for those who delude themselves into thinking they don’t need to put on their safety belts.

“Law enforcement will not only be checking for persons wearing seat belts, but also that they are being worn properly. Please take the time to buckle up and keep your loved ones safe,” said Don Cheli of the Hood River Police Department.

n Buckle in your children.

Oregon law requires a child weighing less than 40 pounds to be properly restrained by a child safety seat. A child under one year of age or weighing less than 20 pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing child seat. A child over 40 pounds but under age 8 or less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall must be restrained in either a child seat with harness system or in a booster seat that raises the child up so that a lap and shoulder belt system fit correctly.

n Statewide, Oregon State Police will be paying added attention to the safety practices of pickup truck drivers.

Last year in Oregon, 61 vehicle occupants who died in crashes were completely unbelted. The majority of these — 49 — were occupants in pickup trucks, and two-thirds of these unbuckled fatalities occurred in nighttime crashes.

Whether driving a pickup, sedan, SUV or motorcycle, remember to reduce speed, make sure all equipment is in working order and avoid driving when tired or impaired in any way.

Keep Memorial Day a time to remember for all the right reasons.

One final tip: Take a break, stretch your legs and use the rest time to stop and reflect on the reason for this long holiday of Memorial Day: honoring those Americans who have fought and died for our country.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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