Winter storms are dangerous. Frankly, it's a miracle that no one has been more severely hurt yet. It was just over a year ago that I posted on this very theme, but clearly some residents of this area have for some reason not read my blog or have chosen not to heed my advice. So I'm going to spell it out more clearly. I often have this conversation with my students (especially when we have first-time-winter-experiencers, whether from Kentucky or Kenya), because I worry that they don't have anyone to tell them the important elements. Our tri-state area should make some kind of pamphlet for new residents. Here's what I would include:
1. Listen to the weather. This seems obvious, but many of my students only get their weather from Facebook, which scares me. Of course, it's not that much different than just getting my news in college from Kurt Loder, but Kurt Loder never let me wander around in a blizzard.
2. Keep your car full of gas. I know that with gas near $3 a gallon, this is not always easy. But if you end up on I-29 as night is falling, and you run out of gas, what are you going to do for the three hours (or more) it takes the authorities to come and get you? And even if your car has four-wheel drive, you know that you can still go in the ditch, right? It's not like all 100 of the cars on 94 yesterday were just Ford Focuses. An ambulance came from Valley City (60 miles away) last night, and even though they were lead by several snowplows, it took them three hours to get here. Your car cannot run for 3 hours on 1/8 of a tank of gas. Honest.
3. Get winter clothes, even if you don't want to wear them. The guy the highway patrol found on interstate with just shorts on, in a stalled car? See, he would have been a lot safer if he'd at least had freaking pants in his car. I worry that our access to cell phones has made us all a little stupider, because we feel like we are always within reach of assistance. But just calling for help is not always the hardest part.
4. Get a hobby. It's okay if you have to stay home, people. To make your hobby help your chances of survival, consider becoming a Mormon. One of the tenets of their religion requires that each Mormon family have enough stored food to live 1-3 years. YEARS. See, if you were a Mormon, you wouldn't need to go to Hornbacher's right now.
5. When the highway patrol says no travel except in emergencies, you should stay home. You should not go to Target. And the though I understand the importance of fresh fruit, you probably don't really need groceries either, once the storm starts. We should all plan ahead a little bit, especially since we're listening to the weather more now, per #1. And if you've followed point #4's advice, all your neighbors will know where to come to borrow a cup of sugar.
Okay, I need to stop this list now, and go shovel, because there's another storm coming tonight. I'm not sure if we can get out of our front door. But be safe, people, and stay warm, and try not to be stupid. That's what my Daddy would want you to do.