Putting safety first
Well, the long weekend is over … and let’s hope it was a safe one for you and your family.
For many it was a chance to hit the highways, trails, forests and waterways and get into a party mood as summer draws ever closer.
And why not? After winter’s icy misery, after months of skidpan conditions on roads, paths and sidewalks, everyone deserves a few days of recreation.
Let’s take advantage of the spring weather, go camping, fire up the barbeque, down a few beers and have a blast for a few days – it’s an understandable mindset at this time of year.
Yet too often this headlong rush for a good time causes commonsense to go AWOL and a devil-may-care attitude to prevail.
Too often drivers drop their guard by speeding and becoming overly aggressive, too often they get distracted by cellphone conversations, ignore seatbelt compliance, become slipshod about the mechanical safety of vehicles and trailers or fail to slow down and move over when passing an emergency vehicle on the shoulder of the road. Too often they drink and drive.
We can only hope that people returned home and to workplaces with anecdotes and memories of family get-togethers, great entertainment and adventures.
We hope the courts will not be filled in the coming days and weeks with people charged with May weekend offences. For those who do appear before a judge, the punishment will be a permanent reminder of folly. For the rest of us, there are also lessons.
While police and law enforcement personnel will probably be less visible now the weekend is over, everyone should remain vigilant, whether on highways or waterways. The safety message may get extra emphasis over the weekend, but it is just as applicable throughout the year.
There is a similar need for commonsense and safe practices among those who venture into the forests.
Last Tuesday, Barrhead County council imposed a fire ban in response to concern about dry and windy conditions.
The authority’s decision to suspend all fire permits, except those for heating and cooking, mirrored a sweeping provincial fire ban stretching across most of Alberta’s forested areas.
Later the provincial ban was lifted as rain and lower temperatures reduced the wildfire danger.
These developments coincided with the first anniversary of the Slave Lake wildfire that destroyed nearly 350 residences in the northern Alberta town.
Against the backdrop of this anniversary, it is hard to fathom that people will light fires, aware that winds are likely to pick up ash and embers and drop them on tinder dry areas.
But this is what has been happening.
Barrhead fire chief John Whittaker said he had spent the weekend dealing with fires started by such thoughtless behaviour.
As he spoke about 300 Alberta firefighters were attempting to contain three out-of-control blazes.
“Unfortunately, most of the wildfires we are fighting right now appear to be human-caused and therefore were 100 per cent preventable,” said Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen.
As spring turns into summer and more people go camping, we can only hope commonsense prevails.
Cool heads are needed to prevent sparks from flying.
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