Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007

As a young man growing up in Wisconsin I spent many hours out in the middle of the night with my father who operated the only wrecker service in the area. Pulling cars out of the ditch or towing in wrecked cars became a way of life for us especially in the winter months. Having Dad holler upstairs to wake us up so that we could go with him to help was a regular occurrence in our lives.

Once we became older we were often times told that we had to take one of the wreckers ourselves and go assist someone who had slid in the ditch or was involved in an accident. It was not uncommon to get more than twenty wrecker calls a day during the first few snow falls of the year or during some of the bad snow storms. We made a living off the misfortune or in some cases the carelessness of others.

Consequently I have learned to have the utmost respect for dealing with the elements of nature that can cause slippery roads, poor visibility and other poor driving conditions. We have all been in a hurry from time to time and drove just a little faster then we should have and passed a few vehicles when we really should not have only to discover that we still only arrived in town a few seconds ahead of those we passed. Think of how much more time we would have lost had we slid off in the ditch or worse yet been involved in an accident.

We are in the middle of our low daylight time of the year right now and need to adjust all our travel times at night. Allow a few more minutes of travel time every time you have to drive in the dark so you can keep your speed down to help you avoid moose on the roads and also poor driving conditions. Each trip you take think about all the things that could possibly go wrong and what you can do to avoid a small incident from turning into a very serious situation.

Is your vehicle equipped to be out on the road at night in the wintertime and prepared to protect you if something happens. Do you have jumper cables in your vehicle in case you or someone else needs them? Do have a cell phone? Is your vehicle in good running condition? Do you have a few survival items such as a blanket, emergency food, a few candles, water, matches, gloves and warm boots? Are your children dressed properly in case you break down or slide off the road? How many times have you ever seen small children show up at the grocery store so poorly dressed in the winter time that you want to give Mom a spanking? What if you’re seriously hurt and slide off the road and out of sight, can your children call for help? Does anyone know where you’re going and can check on you to make sure you arrive back home again?

Alaska is a great place to live but anytime you live in a place where you have to deal with the elements of winter we must learn to prepare for it. A few simple precautions could make the difference between life and death for you and your family. We have all heard those horror stories about those vehicles that either went off the roads or were completely covered by snow and how they uncovered them to discover a family huddled together and frozen to death.

If this had been you and your family could you have survived? Would your list of survival equipment also included having a shovel with you? Would you know enough to shovel out the exhaust pipe on your car to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your vehicle? Do you understand that often times when you slide in the ditch that the whole engine compartment of your vehicle fills completely full of compacted snow? Often times it even pushes off all your belts on your vehicle! Without them your battery will go dead shortly, besides it may prevent your vehicle from running due to being too wet.

This holiday season lets make a special effort to do whatever we do in the Last Frontier safely and also be ever mindful of the needs of others. We all know that this was meant to be a happy time of the year; lets all do our part in helping reduce the stress involved in all of our lives. Make the snow removal at your home a family project. Don’t expect mom to do everything at your home, jump in and help her out, we can all help her with the meals and baking. Have the potatoes all peeled and in a pan of water and ready to go when she gets home at night. CHILDREN GET YOUR HOME WORK DONE. AFTER ALL, JUST WHO DOES IT BENEFIT ANYWAY your parents OR YOU? Those grades you earn in school are yours not Mom’s or Dad’s so why burden them because you got lazy and chose not to do it!

The ice on most lakes is not safe yet my friends so whatever you do, do it safely and if that shovel is just too big for mom to handle how about you put her in charge of making the hot cocoa while you run into town to buy her a smaller one! See you next week!

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