You’re never too young to learn about road safety.
Students of East Three Elementary School showed that in volumes, producing hundreds of personalized Christmas cards for drivers who passed through the RCMP’s Candy Cane check stop Dec. 19 on Mackenzie Road.
“I do a lot of work in the school, so I thought a postcard would look pretty cool,” said Cst. Stephanie Leduc, who organized the effort. “Some of them are really good, the kids do a really good job.”
Every single class in the elementary — well over 500 students — put together cards which were picked up by Santa Claus earlier in December. The cards will be distributed throughout the next few months at traffic stops.
She said the idea for the Candy Cane check stop came from her time living in Drayton Valley, Alta., where it was put on by the RCMP. Unlike a conventional, surprise check stop, this was more of an opportunity for first responders to connect with residents.
Now on it’s third year, Leduc noted she was fielding calls from residents eager to drive through the check stop.
“It’s a Public Relations check stop,” she explained. “We are there to remind people about seat belts and we do look for people who are drinking and driving. But it’s posted on Facebook.
“I think it helps bring the community together. You have people driving through, they see the police, firefighters, paramedics and municipal workers are all out there. Everybody gets nervous at a check stop, even police officers that are just driving. So this way people see us, we wish them a Merry Christmas and we give them a postcard.”
RCMP reminding people about holiday safety
Underlying the fun is a serious message about holiday safety.
“Over the Christmas Holiday, RCMP in each of the communities will be conducting check stops are part of Operation Gingerbread,” said Cst. Christopher Main. “So if you do plan on consuming alcohol, cannabis or other substances that will impair your ability to drive to please plan ahead, take a taxi or arrange for a designated driver, or simply stay the night at the location where you are at.
“Of course we always ask for the public’s assistance in preventing impaired driving, so if you do believe that someone is impaired by alcohol or drugs and they are operating or about to operate a motor vehicle, make sure you call 911 and provide as much information as possible.”
Noting RCMP were planning to have check stops up and down the highway throughout the holiday break, Main had list of ideas for keeping one’s self and belongings safe during the season, with the common theme of planning ahead threaded through all of them.
Making sure to dress for the weather, especially if walking from a party or out late, should be front of mind. Dressing with layers, with something to stop wind on the outside and insulation to keep warmth in below is essential. Gloves, scarves and keeping skin covered up can prevent frostbite or other difficulties.
On a similar note, travelers should make sure someone knows where they are going and when they expect to arrive. Spare tires, extra blankets and a satellite phone are also absolute musts. GPS tracking devices are also very useful for navigating the long nights. Checking weather reports is also highly advised.
If you are planning on going away for the holidays, make sure someone is able to keep an eye on your place. Keeping a light or music on and not advertising your vacation on social media are good ways to not attract opportunist thieves.
Also, if you have firearms, make sure they’re locked up.
Main added with the popularity of snowmobiles in the Beaufort, particularly if one is going out to a cabin, to have an emergency repair kid and always travel in pairs.
“It’s a godsend to have an additional skidoo if one does break down. If someone is there, at least there’s the ability to get back to town and worry about the machine repairs later,” he said.
Above all, RCMP are reminding people that keeping safe will ensure a happy holiday season and the best in the New Year.