Be prepared as harsh winter approaches

Bicester Advertiser: Ploughing on: A snow plough negotiates The Plain roundabout in Oxford in the heavy snowfall in January this year Buy this photo » Ploughing on: A snow plough negotiates The Plain roundabout in Oxford in the heavy snowfall in January this year

with long, cold and icy winter nights ahead for all of us over the coming months, people are being urged to adopt a scouting tradition and ‘be prepared’.

And, as the Winter solstice approaches on December 21, Oxfordshire County Council has now launched its ‘Ready for Winter’ campaign. It gives advice to drivers to make sure they stay safe over the winter as well as tips on fire safety at home.

At the campaign launch, county council leader Ian Hudspeth explained: “We are trying to make everyone prepared for the winter.

“It is not just about transport, it is about being prepared at home and what happens if there are school closures.

“On our part, the gritters are ready and we have got lots of salt in stock should there be an emergency.”

The council has the ability to put out up to 30 gritters at any one time when cold temperatures lead to frost or snowfall. It treats around 43 per cent of the county's road network and has salt stocks of 12,500 tonnes.

Bicester Advertiser:

  • Council leader Ian Hudspeth checks his tyre pressures

But Mandy Rigault, road safety education team leader at the county council, said there were many things drivers could do themselves to stay safe on the roads in winter.

She said: “My colleagues at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service don’t want to attend any road traffic accidents and, with a little more thought and planning, we are hoping that they won’t have to.

“Tyres are very important because it is all you have got between you and the road, so get your tyres checked.

“One thing to think about is things that you can take with you in case something happens, such as you are involved in a road traffic collision or are delayed for some reason, such as warm clothing.”

Mr Hudspeth added that he hoped communities could pitch in together to help others get through the winter period by either visiting elderly or vulnerable neighbours or clearing snow.

He said: “As well as directly providing well regarded services during the winter, such as gritting the roads and household waste recycling centres to dispose of festive waste, the county council is also actively helping local communities to take the lead.

“And, although many people receive care at home or visit a day centre, we would like people to think more about their neighbours and whether there is anything they could do to support those who are perhaps a little older or less able.

“All it takes is a couple of minutes to make sure someone is okay and, if they do need help, much of the information you might need is easy to find through our website.

“We are also keen to dispel some myths. For some reason a few years ago a rumour started nationally that you weren’t allowed to clear snow or ice from your own paths, the pavement in front of your house or business or for your neighbours.

“That’s nonsense, and the sort of thing that makes life more difficult for residents and businesses.

“This year, if snow and ice arrive I want to see people out with their shovels pitching in. I promise I will do my bit too.

“The main message is to be prepared. By doing a few simple things now you could make life so much more easy if or when more challenging weather arrives.”

 

THINK AHEAD

  • COUNTY council advice:
  • Think of visiting any elderly or vulnerable neighbours, particularly if the temperatures plummet
  • Prepare your car now – put together a winter weather kit, check your oil, water, battery, lights, tyres and brakes and find out which radio stations give regular traffic updates
  • Follow the county council and other organisation on Twitter at @oxfordshireCC, @highwaysagency and @metoffice for the latest updates on road closures, road works and the weather.
  • When bad weather does arrive check the county council’s website for highways information, school closures and other services that might be affected

KEEP THE HOUSE WARM

WHEN cold winter weather strikes, the number of deaths among older people and others in at-risk groups go up considerably.

The county council advises that the main living room should be between around 18-21 deg C and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16 deg C to help stay warm.
It also stresses the importance of eating well as well as drinking regularly.

Julie Chanel, of Iffley Residential and Nursing Home, in Oxford agreed.
She said: “Keeping warm can be difficult and there are quite a few day centres in the Oxfordshire area which people can access so they don’t have to pay for the heating.
“Eating and drinking is really important to keep nourished.
“Being part of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme can help and having friends or neighbours around to check on you is really important.”
If you are worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.

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