Ah… electricity. How I take you for granted! But after being one of the hundreds of thousands of Torontonians without power last night – over 800,000 homes in the western suburbs and 300,000 homes in the core were blacked out for 6+ hours – let’s just say that the warm, radiating glow from my computer screen has never felt more welcome.
(Adding insult to injury? We had just completed an epic grocery run and finished stocking the fridge and freezer when the power went out. Thank goodness it was only 6 hours, or $200 worth of groceries would have gone down the drain!)
Of course, the horrific pictures from last night’s catastrophe “flooded” my Facebook feed and inbox this morning (honestly, no pun intended) –
Images courtesy of The Toronto Star; see full gallery and photo credits here.
Living in the Greater Toronto Area for 35 years, I honestly can’t remember a storm of these proportions – or even close, for that matter. In fact, the record breaking rainfall was measured at 5 inches in under 2 hours. Although we had to contend with a power outage and very wet backyard, we were fortunate to be free from flooding or any other lasting damage. Today, the city-wide cleanup begins (even though rain is forecasted to continue until tomorrow night).
Sitting in my inbox for weeks: Summer Road Safety Tips from Michelin. Oh I know – even the most diligently safe driver can’t avoid a natural disaster. However, I thought it was a good time to remind my readers about day-to-day safety initiatives – especially for those taking road trips or vacationing up north this summer. And if the flash floods from last night have taught us anything… stow a pair of cheap rainboots in your trunk!
1. Tread lightly!
Use the “Penny Test” to see if your tires are in need of replacing. Put the edge of the coin into the tread with the Queen going in head first. If the top of the Queen’s head is covered by tread, that’s good. If the top of her head is entirely visible, it’s time to replace the tire. < LOVE this tip! Such a simple test everyone can do at home!
2. Have a professional give your car a summer check-up.
Summer driving can often be hot and stressful. Getting your vehicle’s major systems checked before heading out for long-weekends can help avoid unpleasant surprises on the road. < I always say that the beginning of summer is the best time to perform car maintenance; after all, we do a lot of driving in summer, and it’s nice to get the green light before you travel.
3. Spare tires go a long way.
You never know when you might hit a bump on the road. Make sure your spare tire is properly inflated and easy to reach. < Er… this is a big fail for me. But I suppose that’s why I have Roadside Assistance.
4. Don’t sleep and steer.
Take regular breaks every couple of hours if you need them; stop regularly to stretch your legs. If possible, share the role of driver with someone new at the wheel every three hours. < I’ll never forget the one time I nearly dozed at the wheel. I was travelling on Highway 401 in the left-most of four lanes… and I briefly closed my eyes. When I awoke, I was in the right-most lane. I was probably out for no more than a few seconds, but that one silly shut-eye could have proven life-threatening. Let’s just say I learned my lesson – quickly.
5. Don’t forget to pack your safety supplies.
Planning ahead goes a long way. Always make sure you have extra windshield wiper fluid, a map to help guide your way and road safety kit. Don’t forget extra batteries for the flashlight! < I can’t stress how important it is to stash a paper map in your trunk. Cell phones die or lose reception; GPS navigation systems can provide a route that has been closed by construction; and sometimes, you need to clearly see beyond the next two steps.
Stay safe this summer, friends… and if it starts raining like crazy, stay indoors!