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Snow days

Wow. The storm nicknamed Q lived up to its potential last week, dumping approximately 17 inches of snow on Hays. And it will take some time for day-to-day life to fully return to normal.

The soft quiet of Thursday -- sound muffled the powdery snow -- was replaced Friday with the crunch of ice, as a bitter cold came to join the party and more people ventured back to work.

Street-clearing crews worked overtime to keep up with the snow, but as the city's public works chief I.D. Creech said Thursday, "We are losing."

Side streets that had been used sparingly were marked by deep ruts through the snow. Even main drags such as Vine and 27th still were invisible under a layer of slick white stuff.

While Mother Nature outpaced the blades during the height of the storm, crews are continuing this weekend to chip away at the ice and snow to make more streets passable.

But on these drifted and rutted pathways could be found the spirit of this region.

While students on an unexpected vacation shot down hills on plastic saucers, affirming acts were taking place throughout the area.

Neighbors helped neighbors. Friends lent a hand. Strangers stopped to help fellow motorists who had underestimated the depth of the snow.

Stories such as this can make national headlines when they happen after natural disasters in metropolitan areas.

In northwest Kansas, such acts are so common as to be overlooked.

Thanks are not requested, but should be offered: to the person who scooped the neighbor's porch without them noticing; to the one who ran a snowblower several driveways past their own to clear the sidewalk; to the person who simply made a quick call to ensure someone was safe and OK.

Thank you. These small acts add up and make our community stronger as a whole.

That said, there remain threats -- especially considering another round of snow could be on the way this week.

Be aware of your neighbors in the coming days, especially seniors or those with young children. If you think they might need a hand, it certainly won't hurt to ask.

Be careful in your own home. Too many house fires occur in the dead of winter, caused by candles or dangerous methods of heating a home.

Carbon monoxide, the silent killer, is always a threat when the furnace is running and the house is buttoned up tight. CO detectors are as important as smoke alarms.

While scooping snow, protect against overexertion. In the chill, it's sometimes difficult to tell just how hard you are working. Take frequent breaks and consider the fact that if you spend the next couple of days in the hospital, that walk isn't going to get cleared any faster.

And, please, by all means, drive defensively while the streets are ice-coated.

Keep your eyes on the road. Keep your windshield clean. Have an emergency kit stowed in the vehicle. And always -- always -- assume the other person's vehicle that should stop at that stop sign won't.

Snowstorm Q was massive -- truly a storm for the record books. But, take heart, even the biggest blizzard is temporary.

Take your time, mind yourself and your neighbors, and it will be summer before we know it.

Stay safe.

Editorial by Ron Fields

rfields@dailynews.net