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Preparing for winter weather

There are simple steps you can take to stay safe, warm and well in the event of bad weather.

Visit www.readyscotland.org for information on the national 'Ready for Winter?' campaign and take the readiness quiz to help you be better prepared.

Your home

  • Insulate your pipes in your loft or basement. See www.energysavingtrust.org.uk for more information on insulation.
  • Keep your heating on overnight at a low temperature so pipes won't freeze - simply turn your thermostat down to 15 degrees Celsius.
  • If you can't heat all your rooms, keep your living room warm throughout the day and heat your bedroom before going to bed.
  • If you are finding it hard to heat your home, call the Energy Saving Trust Scotland advice centre on 0800 512 012, for advice on making your home more energy efficient, and benefits and tax credits that may be available.
  • Make a household plan, including emergency contact numbers, and collect together the items that will be essential to you and your family in an emergency.
  • Prepare an emergency kit that contains what you would need. This could be:
      - a battery operated torch and radio, and spare batteries (or a wind-up torch and radio)
      - Medication, toiletries and a first aid kit
      - Three days' supply of bottled water and ready to eat food (that won't go off)
      - Copies of important documents like insurance policies and birth certificates
      - Pet supplies
      - Spare keys to your home and car
      - Spare glasses or contact lenses
  • Know how to turn off your water at source should pipes burst by identifying where your stopcock is in your house which cuts the main water supply to your property.

Your health

  • A balanced diet will help keep you warm and healthy; eat at least one hot meal a day. Soup is nutritious and warming, and inexpensive to make or buy.
  • It may sound obvious but wearing the right clothes will keep you warmer -layers are best, t-shirts under clothes to keep the base of your back warm will heat you from the core
  • Stay active. If the weather prevents you getting outside, stay active indoors - catch up on all the household tasks you've been putting off.
  • Talk - especially if you've been housebound for a couple of days. Lift the phone and call friends and family for a blether. Your mental wellbeing needs to stay warm too.

Road safety

  • Make essential journeys only - listen to the warnings being given on radio or TV. If you have to go out, dress warmly so you are prepared if you get stuck or delayed.
  • If you must travel, make sure that you are fully prepared for all events and conditions. Contact people at your destination and seek advice about local road conditions before making the decision to travel. Allow extra time for your journey, reduce your speed and allow more time to stop than usual. Don't brake suddenly: drop down a gear to let your engine help with the braking instead. Above all, anticipate possible problems ahead.
  • Wherever possible, use main routes which are likely to have been treated. Gritting helps to prevent ice forming and melt any ice and snow which is already there. However, it does not automatically make roads ice-free.
  • De-ice your car fully so you can see through all windows. Clear the roof -snow sliding over your front or back window whilst driving could cause an accident.
  • Carry a bit of old carpet or cardboard to put under your car's driving wheels if you get stuck
  • Ensure your car has plenty of fuel in case you need to keep the engine running to heat the interior while waiting for help. Make sure that the vehicle is in good working order, including good maintenance, brakes, tyres, lights and the heating system.
  • Carry a shovel in the boot of your car and let someone know your destination and estimated arrival time. Carry a blanket or sleeping bag in case you get stuck and have to wait for help.
  • Powdery snow and strong winds are probably the most difficult conditions to deal with as they will cause drifting. In this case you should avoid travelling if at all possible.
  • USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT if possible - bus routes are more likely to be cleared and gritted.

Your Community

Some people feel more vulnerable in winter and would benefit from a helping hand from their neighbours. You could help by: 

  • Having the phone numbers to hand of family or friends who may need help if severe weather strikes
  • Offering to help with grocery shopping or other essential tasks
  • Clearing ice or snow from your pathway
  • Your community can get ready for winter by agreeing what you, your neighbours and your colleagues can do on your own and together to minimise the effects of winter weather where you live and work
  • You can volunteer to help others during winter by contacting www.volunteerscotland.org.uk