Many agencies have for a number of years developed Winter Plans in an effort to co-ordinate and provide their response during this period. The National Health Service is well versed in planning especially in respect of vulnerable people and social care. Local Authorities too are acutely aware of their responsibilities and the need for continuance of its core services in potential severe weather. The winter months bring with it winter weather that can lead to flooding, snow and icy conditions on our roads and footpaths. With a little bit of time and effort you can ensure you survive the winter months and look forward to the summer. In the event of severe weather near you, it is important that you follow the emergency advice Go In, Stay In, Tune In. Respect the elements The British weather is unpredictable. Bad weather can strike suddenly and, although the Met Office is predicting this winter to be milder than last year, it is still sensible to be prepared.
Plan your journey
During wintry weather conditions Ask yourself –
- is your journey really necessary?
- Check the local and national weather forecasts.
- Listen to local and national radio for travel information.
- Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive.
- Make sure you are equipped with warm clothes, food, boots and a torch.
- In snowy conditions,take a spade.
- Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out and carry a screen scraper and de-icer.
- Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey before you set out.
- Be prepared to take more time over your journey.
Check on the latest road conditions and traffic visit the Highways Agency. If you get into trouble
- Do not use a mobile phone while driving. Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make a call.
- On a motorway, it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone because the breakdown/emergency services will be able to locate you easily. If you have to use a mobile phone, make sure you know your location from the numbers on the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder.
- Abandoned vehicles can hold up rescue vehicles and snowploughs. To ensure that the road is cleared as quickly as possible, stay with your vehicle until help arrives.
- If you have to leave your vehicle to get help, make sure other drivers can see you and you know where you are going.
Vehicle condition In winter it is even more important to check your vehicle is well maintained and serviced.
- Keep the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow.
- Keep your battery fully charged.
- Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles.
- Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order.
- Check that the tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the correct pressure.
- Avoid travel if possible.
- Reduce your speed.
- Use dipped headlights, full beam reflects off the fog causing a “white- wall” effect.
- Use your fog lights, but remember to turn them off when visibility improves.
- Keep an eye on your speed, fog can give the impression of travelling slower than you really are.
- Don’t follow the tail lights of the vehicle in front of you, they may give you a false sense of security.
- Watch out for freezing fog, it can quickly form a layer of ice.
- If the word FOG is displayed on roadside signals and the road is clear, be prepared for visibility to reduce rapidly.
- Check your mirrors before you slow down.
- During periods of reduced visibility it is important to make your self visible to road traffic. A torch, reflective tape of even a high visibility vest over your coat will help other road users see you.
- Pedestrians: • Wear appropriate clothing. • Be both warm and visible. • Carry a torch if required. • Be aware of icy pavements. If you have to walk on a road, face oncoming vehicles so that you can react to the traffic. • Watch out for objects buried in the snow which might trip you up or cause injury. • Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. • If you carry a mobile phone, check that the battery is charged. • Carry a windup phone charger and torch.
- Make a list of important contact details such as family, friends, neighbours, GP, veterinary surgery, public utility companies etc.
- Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures both at work and for children at school.
- Know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water supplies.
- Know how to tune your radio to local stations.
- Know how your family will stay in contact in the event of an emergency. If any elderly or vulnerable neighbours might need your help. Make up an emergency pack as below.
Don’t forget to prepare an Emergency Grab Bag. It is recommended that all households are suitably prepared for the different types of hazard that we could face and in doing so should have an ‘Emergency Grab Bag’ at hand at home, in the car and at work. It is recommended that you know your emergency procedures for your workplace. Depending on the situation, you may have to remain at your workplace for safety, this could be overnight. It would be advantageous to consider what you would need if this happened.