Derbyshire residents are being reminded to follow advice to keep themselves, neighbours and vulnerable people safe and warm during the current snow and cold weather.
Derbyshire County Council is working with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, Derbyshire police, East Midlands Ambulance Service, other local councils, voluntary groups and health services to plan for possible further snow and already have contingency plans in place to make sure services continue to run as normally as possible.
County Council Cabinet Member for Communities Councillor Carol Hart said: “We want to be as prepared as possible for any problems caused by the severe weather and are in regular touch with our partner organisations to ensure plans are up-to-date and ready.
“These plans will help to ensure services run as normally as possible, but meanwhile it is always wise to bear in mind some simple tips to stay safe and warm over the cold spell in cases of emergency.
“One of the main concerns we had in the severe weather earlier this year was elderly and vulnerable people running of food, heating oil and medication so I think this is somewhere we could all play an important role and be a good neighbour this winter.”
Derbyshire County Council’s highways team is offering some advice on staying safe on the roads during bad weather:
• Only travel if your journey is really necessary.
• In icy conditions slow down, steer gently and avoid harsh braking.
• Use dipped headlights if driving during snowfalls.
• Check your lights are working and your windscreen washer is full.
• If going on a long journey take a shovel, torch, boots, warm clothing, food and a hot drink and charged mobile telephone.
The county council also has new information about severe weather and gritting on its website at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/gritting including:
• Where grit bins are located, which council is responsible for them and how to let us know when they’re empty or have been damaged or removed
• Map of gritting routes so you can check where your nearest gritted roads are
• Some general information about gritting and driving in bad weather
Residents are also reminded that grit in council grit bins is for use ONLY on public roads and public paths and pavements.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Councillor Chris Jackson said: “I’ve seen for myself how many people take grit from council-owned grit bins for use on their own drives and paths.
“This is completely reckless and I cannot stress enough how this conduct could put drivers and pedestrians at risk.”
Some tips on clearing ice and snow:
• Are you fit and well enough to clear snow and ice? It can be a tough job so get help if you need it.
• Do not use hot water. This will melt the snow, but will replace it with black ice increasing the risk of slipping and injury.
• If shovelling snow, use a spade with the widest possible blade to avoid icy tracks and make a space down the middle first to stand on while throwing snow away to each side.
• Ordinary table salt will help prevent ice forming – simply sprinkle it where you’ve cleared snow.
Tips from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service include:
• Maintain portable gas heaters and check electric fires are fitted with the right fuse and don’t have frayed or damaged cables.
• Ensure central heating boilers are serviced regularly.
• Make sure, if you have an open fire, that your chimney is swept regularly.-
• Ensure paraffin heaters are thoroughly cleaned and the wick checked and trimmed.
• Make sure portable heaters have a safety guard and not placing them near furniture, beds or curtains.
• Have electric blankets serviced at least every three years.
• Walkers and dog-owners – don’t walk on ice-covered lakes, ponds or rivers. If you see a person or animal fall through the ice don’t try and rescue them – call 999 immediately and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.
• Warn children about the dangers of open water and ice. Even a short exposure to freezing water can be fatal.
Councillor Hart added: “We know from experience that prolonged spells of severe weather can cause problems but if we all take extra care and look out for our elderly or vulnerable neighbours, we can minimise disruption and stay safe.”
The Department of Health has issued advice particularly aimed at older people.
Keep warm at all times – wear clothing in layers and keep moving if possible.
• Keep rooms – including the bedroom – warm and close windows. If your house is cold, body temperature will drop and catching a cold is more likely.
• Warm the bedroom and bed before turning in for the night. Your bedroom should be kept above 18°C overnight.
• If you are eligible for a flu jab make sure you have it.
• If you are over 60, money is available for winter fuel bills and you may receive payments if the weather gets very cold.
• Looking out for neighbours. If you have an older person as a neighbour or a relative, please look out for them in the winter months to ensure they have enough heat, food and any necessary medication.
• Keep an eye out for bogus officials who may call door-to-door without an appointment claiming to be from heating supply or other companies checking for problems caused by the cold weather. Always check the identity of callers to your home and if in doubt call the police.
For more information about how to help keep safe, healthy and warm this winter visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk or www.derbyshireprepared.org.uk
www.nhs.uk/livewell/winterhealth/ or www.derbyshire-fire-service.co.uk or www.derbyshire.police.uk
If you’re concerned about an older person or a vulnerable adult Call Derbyshire on 08456 058 058.