As the weather starts to get colder and wetter it is important to start preparing. We’ve all seen the news footage of cars littering the motorways having been caught in a blizzard, and power cuts can be inconvenient when they last for a few hours, but what if they last for a few days?
Ready Scotland and the Met Office have got some great advice and tips on how to prepare for an emergency. Firstly, keep an eye on the weather forecast. The Met Office will issue weather warnings if there is a risk of flooding or snow, or especially cold temperatures. Check your insurance policies to find out what cover you have in the event of flood or storm damage and make sure it is adequate.
When the weather turns Arctic, it is essential you keep warm…..
- Do whatever you can to insulate your home – The Energy Saving Trust and Which? can provide information on any grants or discounts available to help with the costs.
- Get your boiler serviced, bleed your radiators etc to make sure your heating is working (and working efficiently)
- Have regular hot meals and drinks
- Wear lots of thin layers as these trap air and insulate you more than one thick layer
- Sign up to receive flood alerts from the Environment Agency.
- If you live in a flood risk area consider investing in some flood defences, such as FloodSax or flood barriers.
- Have an emergency kit prepared in case you need to evacuate
- Make sure you know how to turn off the mains electricity and water supplies
- Move anything valuable/irreplacable upstairs – family photos, documents etc
- Avoid travelling – just 2 inches of fast flowing water can knock an adult of their feet, 2 feet can move a car…..you can’t always tell how deep the water is so don’t take the risk.
Snow & Ice
- Get a snow shovel – if you are clearing your drive make sure you don’t mound the snow in someone elses way
- Look at getting some grit, salt or sand for your path/driveway
- Make sure your footwear has a good grip, and ideally waterproof. You can get crampons to put over your shoes for extra grip.
Hopefully any power cuts will only last for a few hours, but there have been instances where people have been without utilities for several days.
- Keep a note of your energy supplier’s contact details
- Make sure your mobile devices are always fully charged
- If a member of your family is vulnerable due to disability or illness and depend on a power supply for medical or mobility equipment, make sure the energy providers and local authority have been informed
- Prepare an emergency kit, and make sure you are well stocked with food (that does not require refrigerating) and bottled water.
If you do need to use your car in bad weather, make sure you’ve checked it over first (oil, water, anti-freeze, tyres etc). Check the forecast and travel alerts before you leave and know what alternative routes are available. Allow extra time for journeys and make sure your phone is fully charged in case of an accident or emergency. It may also be worthwhile printing off an emergency contact sheet to put in your tax disc holder. Keep an emergency kit in the car.
So, what should you keep in an emergency pack? You will need slightly different things for your home and your car.
For your car – in case you get snowed in at work or get trapped or severely delayed by severe weather on the road.
- Torch & batteries
- Bottled water & food – try and take a flask with a hot drink with you as well
- First Aid kit & medication – especially if you have to take your medication at a specific time. You might not usually carry regular medication with you because you’re home by 7pm, but if you get stuck for several hours you can still take your usual dose.
- Blankets, warm & waterproof clothes and good boots – You may not have enough petrol to keep the engine running (remember you still need to get home once the traffic has cleared), so bundle up. Hand and feet warmers wouldn’t hurt either!
- Jump leads
- De-icer, scraper and snow shovel – Do not set off until your windows are clear. Try to get as much snow as possible of the roof of your car…or when you break you could end up with an avalanche of snow sliding down and covering your windscreen
- Reflective warning signs and Hi-Vis vest – It might not be attractive but bad weather = poor visibility. If for some reason you have to get out of your car in a snow storm you need to make yourself as visible as possible to any other road users….in icy conditions they will take an awful lot longer to brake!
For your home – in case your suffer a power cut or have to evacuate
- Torch & batteries
- Bottled water & food – including baby formula and prepared bottles etc, and pet supplies
- First Aid kit & medication – always make sure you have a weeks worth of medication in the emergency pack. Even if you aren’t affected by the weather your doctor’s or pharmacy may be.
- Insurance, ID, and other important documents – If you can’t get back into your house you still need to be able to contact your insurer
- Contact list – family members, work, school, bank, anyone who might need to be notified if you have to leave your property
- Pen, paper, multitool
- Spare glasses or contacts
- Spare keys
The emergency kits are a lot about organisation. If you make up a kit you know where everything is instead of trying to remember which ‘safe place’ you put the insurers number in as the flood waters rush up to the front door! With any luck you’ll never have to use the kits, and a lot of the items can remain there until the next year (just remember to check periodically for up to date contact information and expiry dates on first aid supplies and medication etc. We wish everyone a warm and safe winter.