A wintery blast by mother nature was a good reminder for residents to take care on the highways and to be prepared.
Warnings of a winter storm began on Friday afternoon, and by Saturday evening, heavy, wet snow made many area highways impassable, with motorists, semis, and even snowplows stranded.
The RCMP Detachment said on Saturday they received about 18 calls, and for some calls, it was too treacherous to respond.
Corporal Gerald Sherk of the Drumheller RCMP said most of the calls were minor.
For the most part the calls we received were drivers being stuck or vehicles being stranded,” he said. “The weather was so bad it was difficult for us to attend to help people who rely on emergency services, but if their vehicles were getting stuck we’re going to get struck too. “
In Wheatland County, Emergency Reception Centres were set up at the Lutheran Church in Strathmore and at the Gleichen Community Hall.
Highway 21 between Highway 9 and Highway 575 was closed in both northbound and southbound directions and Highway 56 from Highway 10 to Highway 564 was closed during the storm.
Despite the number of calls, there were not many collisions of note. Fire Chief Bruce Wade said despite the weather, the department did not receive any calls.
“People were smart and stayed home,” said Wade.
Corporal Sherk agrees many took heed of the warnings.
“There was a lot of direction for people to stay off the roads unless it was absolutely urgent to be out there and I do really think that saved a lot of safety concerns. There would have been some serious accidents and a lot more people stuck.”
This type of situation highlights the importance of being prepared before heading out onto the highway. Conditions can change quickly. While many area highways became treacherous, in Drumheller conditions were mild. This highlights the importance of checking conditions before you head out.
It is also important to make sure your vehicle has ample fuel in case the vehicle is stranded or you have to detour. A couple of the calls received by RCMP last weekend were for drivers who had run out of fuel.
According to the Government of Canada Get Prepared website, an emergency car kit is an important tool to have in place. This includes items such as non-perishable food and water. It is also important to have extra clothing or blankets for warmth. A first aid kit is an important component with a tool that is able to cut a seatbelt. Other important tools include a shovel, a flashlight, and a candle in a deep can.
May 5-11 is Emergency Preparedness Week. For more information go to www.getprepared.gc.ca