By Ricky Jordan
Director of Public Safety
With cold weather right around the corner, now is the time to prepare for winter in Big Canoe. Recently over 200 new families moved to Big Canoe and for many of these families, this will be their first experience with a Big Canoe winter. It can be eye-opening as well as eye-pleasing.
Big Canoe boasts some of the most beautiful sights following a fresh snowfall. Some of the most fascinating and intriguing landscapes I’ve ever seen have been while working winter storms in our community. With all the beauty comes pre-planning for Big Canoe owners and residents to prepare before the first flake falls.
The first thing to do prior to the arrival of snow is to gear your mind to preparation. This means having food and water supplies stocked in your home for a minimum of 72 hours, although a week’s supply is recommended. Make sure to have your prescriptions filled as well as a good supply of over the counter meds and first aid needs.
Games and books are good to have on hand in case power is lost and you need something to occupy the hours. Back-up power and heat are recommended; this could mean a back-up generator or other heat sources that can be used if power fails. Of course, a good supply of flashlights is recommended, but if you use candlelight, watch the flame carefully to avoid a surprise fire.
Foods that can be used without cooking is a great idea. If cans don’t have a pull-up lid, be sure to have a manual can opener on hand. Of course chocolate is always a treat when stressed or bound inside.
Big Canoe has a large fleet of road clearing equipment to make roads passable as quickly as possible. However, the current practice of waiting for the snowfall to stop before clearing continues in place.
Due to our elevation and temperatures, if roads are plowed and cleared too soon, an icy film will freeze and make travel worse. Black ice is common in our mountains.
Public Safety has specialized vehicles and equipment to respond to winter weather emergencies. If you see our vehicles traveling with ease, it’s likely because we have installed heavy duty tire chains or are in a track-equipped vehicle. Don’t try to follow a Public Safety vehicle unless you are told to do so.
It’s also a good idea to have a cell phone charger, boots for cold, wet weather, snacks, food, water and blankets in your vehicle in case you become stranded. Don’t try to navigate roads if you can’t see markers. It’s easy to become disoriented and easy to slide into a culvert.
Public Safety will attempt to access anyone stuck in a bad place, but it often takes some time so if you are stranded, you may have to stay warm while you wait for help. Finding a nearby home in which to pass the time brings a welcome, comfortable feeling.
One of the most common phrases we hear during a winter storm is, “I thought we could make it home in time!” Our rapid elevation changes often catch people by surprise. Last year a storm dumped over three inches of snow at the Lake Petit dam in less than 20 minutes!
Be prepared, be weather aware. If you have guests coming to enjoy the snow, make sure they arrive at your home before the snow falls as guests are not permitted to enter the community once the roads become slick.
Big Canoe is beautiful, but can be a struggle in the winter if you’re not prepared. The best thing to do is sit inside by the window and enjoy the frosting Mother Nature puts on our cake.
For additional information, check the FEMA Tip Sheet at https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/winter-storm_information-sheet.pdf.