Snow days should not come with risk
On Monday morning, Feb. 4, SPU students woke up to the delightful news that all classes had been delayed due to snowy conditions.
As the morning progressed and all activities eventually were suspended for the entirety of the day, most students took the opportunity to rest and catch up on to-do lists. However, for many off-campus students, faculty and the rest of the population alike, the winter storm presented several logistical challenges.
Many major roads were closed, and Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest utility company, stated that 167 outages were present in its service area, which affected 6,696 customers, according to CNN. Additionally, the Herald and Review reported that more than 200 flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were canceled and over 450 delayed.
Snow storms serve as reminders as to how woefully unprepared the city of Seattle is for inclement weather conditions, to the point of becoming dangerous for its citizenry.
The city’s website warns the public that “safety impacts resulting from the inability to get emergency vehicles where they need to go,” and “power losses during extreme cold have resulted in deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning as some people attempt to keep warm by lighting charcoal fires indoors.”
These risks are mitigated in the majority of cities across the country, but remain prevalent in Seattle due to the city’s complete lack of adequate infrastructure.
Seattle.gov states that “Seattle does not have dedicated snow plows, trucks have to be outfitted with snow removal equipment when snow threatens,” and in general Seattle lacks significant, effective emergency planning for these winter weather events.
While the argument that the city does not need to invest in snow-related emergency planning due to the infrequency of such circumstances, Seattle still ought to be prepared to fulfill its duty of protecting its citizens from harm.
While infrequent, snow is an exciting event that Seattlites can look forward to at least once a year. There is no reason why something as joyful as a snow day should also have a component of fear due to dangerous circumstances that could be prevented with a little investment.