KEYBOARD COMMANDO – Now is the time to prepare for a long hot spring and summer

by Mac Olsen
Next month marks five years since Slave Lake and that area were hit by wildfires, which have left an indelible impression on me to this day.

One residential area in Slave Lake was totally destroyed by the fire, as were some businesses in the downtown area.

I make a trip through that area once a year every February. I still see signs of forest fire damage east of and southeast of Slave Lake.

Fast forward to April 2016 and we’re already seeing signs that we could be in for another hot dry spring and summer.

There were reports of fires breaking out near Edmonton, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek last week.

And the warm weather in our area last week should be a reminder to everyone, to be careful about matches, cigarettes and the like. Quad owners are required to have spark arrestors on the tail pipes of their vehicles, too.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see bans on open fires, including at campgrounds, in the near future.

That will take the fun out of spring and summer recreation for some. But it’s a necessary requirement to keep forest fires and wildfires from erupting, or at least to reduce the risk.

My propane barbecue is the extent of my outdoor cooking, or a propane stove for camping.

And with the heat increasing at this time of year, most people turn on their fans or crank up their air conditioners, thereby increasing their electricity bills.

While I sympathize with that strategy, it would be advisable to keep power consumption down if possible. Open your windows and doors, especially at night, lest you receive a shock in the mail over next month’s utility bill.

After all, that will be good practice for next year, when the carbon taxes are imposed on our electricity consumption.

Returning to the hot weather, I’ve watched the water collection in dugouts in this area during the winter and spring and some are looking pretty drained.

I’ve been of two minds about the winters in this region. On the one hand, I’ve had my fill of the winter weather by February and look forward to seeing spring.

On the other hand, I appreciate that the farmers need all the moisture they can get for their crops and livestock. So the longer winter stays, the better it is for them.

I certainly don’t want to see dry fields and dead crops this summer. That was evident in some fields throughout the region last summer.

One note, the Alberta government puts out reports and news releases about forest fires and wildfires every spring and summer.

I will be putting the ones related to the Peace Country on on the Smoky River Express’ Facebook page as they come in.

You can also check for fire ban information at the Alberta government’s website, at It has a map of Alberta, showing the most up to date information about the fire situation in the province.

It also has information about fire advisories, fire restrictions and fire bans.

So, prepare for a long hot spring and summer.

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