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More snow on the way - agencies renew winter warning

09 February 2012

With more snow predicted across the country, agencies are encouraging local people to ensure they remain prepared for winter.

The past two winters have seen severe weather in some parts of the region, with winter 2009-10 the coldest recorded nationally since 1978-79. In West Yorkshire, this caused significant snow and ice leading to an increase in the number if road traffic collisions, hospital admissions and school closures.

West Yorkshire Resilience Forum - which is made up of a number of health, local authority and emergency services - is urging people to take a few simple steps which could reduce their risk of ill-health, accident or injury during the winter months. By being prepared and stocking up on a few essentials, people can reduce the risk of being caught out by a sudden cold snap.

Co-Chair of West Yorkshire Resilience Forum, West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom, said: "We’ve seen a couple of hard winters and that severe weather creates an increased demand on all agencies, including police, council and health organisations. While some of that is due to the unavoidable, such as road crashes and people being taken ill, there are precautions people can take now to reduce the risks. Bad weather always stretches our resources and while we can cope, response times for the emergency services for example can be reduced, if only because it is more difficult for us to get around too.

"Simple things make a difference, such as keeping yourself warm at home by ensuring you have enough heating oil, along with grit and salt if you live in an inaccessible area. We’d also like to see people looking out for their neighbours, particularly if they are elderly or living alone.

"If you’re a motorist, make sure now that your vehicle is ready for the months ahead. The winter months take a lot more out of a vehicle and can identify any weak points in the battery or electrical system. A pre-winter service is a useful investment."

Tony Reeves, Co-Chair of the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum and Chief Executive of Bradford Council, said: "We have substantial stocks of grit and have well developed plans to deal with the snow and ice. We will always strive to keep the major commuter network open but people must be aware that very heavy snowfall can easily create circumstances that result in widespread disruption. We advise people to stock up on rock salt for their driveways and keep an eye out for their neighbours, particularly if they are elderly or vulnerable."

The Resilience Forum is advising people to following these simple steps to reduce the impact of severe weather:

Keep Warm                                                                                Heat your home, or at least the rooms you use often, to between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius. Wear layers of clothes to trap warm air and wrap up warm in bed. Eat at least one hot meal a day and drink plenty of non-alcoholic drinks, particularly hot drinks like tea, coffee or hot squash.

Keep Well
If you have prescription medicines make sure you have a stock in - don’t forget COPD inhalers or asthma preventer inhalers, particularly for children. Don’t go outside in severe weather unless you need to; instead try to keep active indoors. If you do need to go out, wrap up warm and wear sturdy, non-slip footwear. Keep an eye on elderly friends and neighbours and get more information www.ageuk.org.uk  

If you are feeling unwell with a cough, cold, flu or stomach upset please do not visit friends or relatives in hospital.  If you have a stomach upset please wait two days until after the symptoms have gone. Because hospitals are full of people who are more vulnerable to catching infections taking bugs into hospitals is the worse thing you can do.

Be Prepared
Keep food cupboards well stocked. Make sure you have enough money on your electricity and gas meters and keep a torch somewhere handy. Listen to the weather forecasts - sometimes it’s not safe to make a journey so stay at home. If you have to travel, be prepared for all weather conditions and plan your route accordingly. Get your vehicle serviced and carry an emergency kit in the boot. 

Now is the time to stock up on supplies of winter essentials such as heating oils, salt/grit. Winter items are more plentiful in the autumn and generally cheaper than when demand peaks in the depths of winter, so it makes good economic sense too.

Keep in Touch
Make a note of important phone numbers such as NHS Direct, tel: 0845 46 47 and West Yorkshire Urgent Care Services, tel: 0345 605 99 99; your gas, water and electricity suppliers; and friends, carers, relatives and neighbours.

Keep up to date on weather warnings by listening to the local radio, visiting the Met Office website: www.metoffice.gov.uk or logging on to their Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. Check Floodline, tel: 0845 988 1188 and the Environment Agency website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk for current picture of flood warnings issued as well as the 3 Day Flood Forecast and current river levels.

For more information about emergency preparedness in West Yorkshire visit www.goprepare.co.uk or for national information visit www.direct.giv.uk/getreadyforwinter

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department