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Severe weather warnings – stay prepared

Created on Thursday, January 12th, 2017
by Kathryn Shaw

As the temperature falls, accident rates go up – snow and ice means a dramatic increase of trips, slips and car accidents.  Even a minor accident can lead to strains and fractures, and puts pressure on hospital emergency departments.

We’ve put together some advice which residents could find useful in the event of a cold snap.

Gritting – what will Derwent Living do?

If the forecast is for snow or a heavy frost, there are a few things you can do to prepare.

If the forecast is for snow or a heavy frost, there are a few things you can do to prepare

While Derwent Living would love to be able to keep every path and road on our sites free of snow, it just isn’t reasonably practical.

Instead, we prioritise high risk areas and try to make sure that main footpaths, especially those to areas such as car parks and bin stores, are kept clear.  “High risk” means places such as retirement living sites, or sites with steep paths.

Ensuring all walkways are kept free of ice or snow at all times, even on routes identified as priority, is a huge challenge.

On retirement living sites with communal areas, main paths will be treated but not paths to individual houses.  Foot paths on high risk schemes are gritted and/or cleared of snow in descending order of priority.

On sites with steep gradients Derwent Living provides gritting bins for residents to use.

On all other sites action will be taken if a manager or housing officer identifies a site with steep gradients.  We will then attempt to provide grit bins at strategic locations which residents can use if they wish to.

All gritting and the provision of grit bins will be subject to supply of gritting materials and weather conditions.

Before snow or ice

If the forecast is for snow or a heavy frost, there are a few things you can do to prepare.

It is better to arrive late and safe than not at all

It is better to arrive late and safe than not at all

You can put grit or cat litter on your paths (although grit or sand in tyre treads can reduce grip).  Wear sensible flat shoes with a good grip.

If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours, try to check in on them to make sure they’ve got enough food and warmth to make it through a cold spell.

Stay tuned for weather forecasts and make sure you are stocked up on any medications needed in advance.

If you have to make a journey by car:

  • Try to wait until the roads have been gritted before travelling
  • Let someone know when you expect to arrive and your route
  • Make sure you have warm clothes, food, water, boots, a torch hi-visibility jacket and a spade in the car
  • Check your car levels for oil, anti-freeze, screen wash, and the air in your tyres

And please, with any journey allow for it to take more time – don’t rush. It is better to arrive late and safe than not at all.

During bad weather

Try to wait until the roads have been gritted before travelling

Try to wait until the roads have been gritted before travelling

Be careful when walking or driving on compacted snow because it may have turned to ice.  Black ice is almost impossible to spot until it’s too late.

Moving snow that’s fresh and loose is much easier than when it’s hard packed from people walking on it.  Any sun during the day will help clear the path, but consider putting salt on it to stop it freezing overnight (although salt stops working at about -5°C).  You should NOT use water (even boiling) as this will freeze.

Be careful where you put salt, as it can kill plants.  Sand or ash won’t stop the path re-freezing, but will improve your footing and shouldn’t cause problems for gardeners.

It’s very unlikely that you will be sued if someone slips on a pavement you’ve cleared – please don’t be put off clearing paths, and offering to do the same for the elderly and infirm.

If you do shovel the snow off your paths, take care not to dump it where it will cause more problems.  And please take care – as well as the danger of slipping, the cold air makes it harder to work and breathe. This strain can put undue physical stress on your body, so it’s worth thinking about what is achievable and not overdoing it, particularly if you suffer from health problems.

Winter travel

The Highway Code has some great advice for travelling in snowy or icy weather.  This includes:

  • If you go outside wear several layers of clothing and keep dry to prevent loss of body heat
  • Make sure your car is fully defrosted before driving, as this can reduce visibility
  • Watch out for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, slow or slurred speech, memory lapse and drowsiness; and frostbite: loss of feeling in and pale appearance of fingers, toes, nose and ear lobes. Keep moving your arms and legs to help the blood circulate
  • If you get stuck, stay with your car and tie something brightly coloured to your aerial
  • Slow down — it can take ten times longer to stop in snowy or icy conditions, so allow extra room
  • Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin
  • Manoeuvre gently and avoid harsh braking and acceleration. If you start to skid, gently ease off the accelerator and avoid braking. If braking is necessary, pump the brakes don’t slam them on
  • Take care around gritting trucks: don’t be tempted to overtake.

Keep yourself safe and warm this winter!

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