Fair weather is our friend and foe

Dave Bergmeier

As we move deeper into fall in many parts of the High Plains the enjoyment of the colorful leaves provides a timeless, enjoyable experience.

Photographers are snapping pictures to capture breathtaking scenes. Producers are working tirelessly to harvest spring-planted crops, and ranchers are moving cattle closer to base operations. Across the countryside rural youth are finishing up fall seasons, and football teams are preparing for state playoffs.

However, as many of us know, that is a precursor to what is also ahead—the leaves will disappear, crop activities and outdoor work will be limited and nearly all of the school activities will move to the inside—all part of the winter season.

With enjoyable seasonal weather it becomes easy to overlook preparation for winter’s cold hand. Even those who live in the far southern Plains know firsthand because back in mid-February they and the entire Plains region experienced a record cold grip that led to lengthy power outages, loss of water and heat. While that ice storm might be considered a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, it serves as a reminder that farmers and ranchers and rural residents need to prepare so they can offset some of the winter haymakers Mother Nature delivers.

According to www.ready.gov/winter-weather, “Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights. If you are unable to afford your heating costs, weatherization or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for help.

“Be prepared for winter weather at home, at work and in your car. Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep a full tank of gas.”

This time of year is recognized by National Fire Protection Association to help people understand the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide through its website, www.nfpa.org. This website offers practical advice to help urban and rural homeowners and apartment dwellers.

Advice includes the installation and regular maintenance of smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. These not-so-small detectors can save your life and your loved ones or fellow employees who will spend more time inside. Also, having an escape route helps. Practicing it so it becomes second nature pays dividends. Remember the ageless tip given to children to “stop, drop and roll” because it has saved many lives.

Now is the time to put together a list of people to check on and have a plan on how to contact them when Mother Nature’s bite is severe. Don’t assume everyone is safe because emergencies will rear their ugly head when they are least expected.

All of this information is not new yet sage advice based on experiences from rural firefighters and departments that volunteer to help their neighbors. We need to do whatever it takes to do our part to prevent an unneeded tragedy.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].