The Met Office issued a Cold Weather Alert for very cold weather which will be below freezing at times. This is between 0900 on Sunday the 13th January 2013 and 0900 on Friday the 18th January 2013. Health risks to those such as older people, the very young and people with pre-existing medical conditions may be increased. Cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, influenza and other diseases.
If you know or look after someone who may be particularly susceptible to the effects of very cold weather, please help make sure they stay warm and well.
• Stay tuned to the weather forecast
• Check and maintain daytime room temperature at 21°C
• Check bedroom night-time temperature and maintain it at 18°C or warmer
• If you have to go out, make sure you dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes. Also tell someone where you are going and let them know when you get back. If you have a mobile phone, keep it charged and on you at all times
• Keep active
• Dress warmly, eat warm food and take warm drinks regularly
• Check on those you know are at risk
• If you are concerned about your own health or welfare or that of others, alert the emergency services
Please see the NHS Keep Warm Keep Well booklet for more advice.
Keep up to date with the latest weather news here: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/ or by following the Met Office Twitter @metofficeUK
ADVICE & GUIDANCE FOR MEMBRS OF THE PUBLIC AND EXTERNAL PARTIES
1. Clearing Ice & Snow
2. Recommended Salt Spread Rates & Advice
3. Weather Alerts & Advisory Service – how to sign up
4. H&S legal issue – (primarily for Parish Councils)
5. Risk Assessments for Snow Clearance & Driver Risk Assessments
6. Roles & Responsibilities
7. Neighbourliness & Volunteering - helping out in severe weather
8. Travel and Interruption
1. CLEARING SNOW & ICE
ADVICE ON CLEARING SNOW & ICE FROM PAVEMENTS YOURSELF
There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully. Follow the snow code when clearing snow and ice safely.
The SNOW CODE - tips on clearing snow and ice from pavements or public spaces
If you clear snow and ice yourself, be careful - don’t make the pathways more dangerous by causing them to refreeze. But don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow the advice below to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively.
• Clear the snow or ice early in the day
It’s easier to move fresh, loose snow rather than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it. So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can then cover the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight. Always move snow to a porous surface such as a grass verge or garden. Move snow to a location where it will create another risk such as another part of the pavement, road or where people are likely to walk.
• Use salt or sand - not water
If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries as it is invisible and very slippery. You can prevent black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt - a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work. Don’t use the salt found in salting bins - this will be needed to keep the roads clear.
Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may cause them damage.
If you don’t have enough salt, you can also use sand or ash. These won’t stop the path icing over as well as salt, but will provide good grip under foot.
• Take care where you move the snow
When you’re shovelling snow, take care where you put it so it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains. Make sure you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared firs, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path to the sides.
• Offer to clear your neighbours’ paths
If your neighbour will have difficulty getting in and out of their home, offer to clear snow and ice around their property as well. Check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in the cold weather. If you’re worried about them, contact your local council.
2. RECOMMENDED SALT SPREAD RATES & ADVICE
Should icy roads be expected, it would be wise to undertake precautionary treatment before the predicted event to allow time for salt to turn into brine. If the ice has already formed or snow already fallen reactive treatments such as snow ploughing then salt dispersal should be undertaken.
Different spreading rates may be used depending on the severity of the anticipated conditions. The rate will normally be 10 or 20 grams per square metre but may be increased to 40 grams per square metre in certain circumstances. For example, typically:
- 10 grams of salt is applied to each metre square of road surface as a precautionary treatment when surface temperatures are forecast to fall between 0OC and -2 OC and ice or hoar frost is anticipated.
- 20 grams of salt is applied to each metre square of road surface as a precautionary treatment when surface temporaries are forecast to fall below -2 OC and ice or hoar frost is anticipated.
- 40 grams of salt is applied to each metre square of road surface as a precautionary treatment when snow is anticipated.
A spread of 10 grams per square metre is not immediately obvious to the naked eye, however the image below clearly shows that 10 grams of salt is roughly the equivalent of 13 millilitres. This is about 2½ teaspoons worth of salt per square meter.
De-icing road salt
Salt is the preferred material used for treating the Precautionary Salting Network. When the salt is spread on road surfaces it combines with moisture on the surface or air to form a brine solution, which freezes at a lower temperature than rainwater.
It is an objective of WSCC to deliver One ton bags of salt mix to agreed locations throughout the district during times of adverse weather for use on the public highway as a form of self-help. If the correct amounts of salt are used for precautionary or reactionary treatment the One ton hippo bags should allow for cover and treatment over an extensive area.
3. WEATHER ALERTS & ADVISORY SERVICE
There are many providers of weather information and two of the more prominent examples are listed below:
This provides monthly, 3 day and flash warnings of severe weather by region or cities.
The Met Office now offers its web visitors a convenient way to keep up to date with email alerts. Users can sign up for email alerts about weather warnings. Weather warnings are issued by the Met Office as Flash, Early or Advisory warnings. These are issued for specific Unitary Authorities within the region(s) for which you have subscribed of the Met Office public web site. To subscribe to this service please follow the link below:
BBC online weather centre – providing 3 day forecast but slightly more detailed than the one offered by the met office above. It also provides forecasts by regions and towns.
Both services will help warn the community in advance of severe or hazardous weather which has the potential to cause danger to life or widespread disruption of communications or transport
In addition to the two weather advisory services outlined above members of the public can also subscribe to the following weather warnings from the Environment Agency:
Subscribe to Flood Warnings Direct for free flood warnings and severe
flood warnings, plus messages to tell you when these warnings are no longer in force at https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk/app/olr/home
Monitor River Levels for the Arun & Adur at:
4. HEALTH & SAFETY ISSUES FOR PARISH COUNCILS
Working on Behalf of West Sussex County Council (WSCC)
Regarding Public Liability Insurance –
Parish councils should hold at least £10m public liability insurance, however in reality it is normally £5m. This would be the absolute minimum that WSCC should accept.
On the issue of conducting work on behalf of WSCC –
In principal where WSCC provide materials to assist the users would likely cover this on their own liability.
If a body is instructed to do works on WSCC behalf however, they would normally be covered under WSCC insurance (e.g. during the snow when we had some voluntary 4x4 drivers).
In addition to this advice from the legal team, WSCC highways confirm that all volunteers (i.e. Parish / Neighbourhood Councils, Farmers etc ...) who conduct work on their behalf will be considered along the same lines as volunteers who undertake tasks with WSCC (who are covered under our insurance) as long as there has been an appropriate risk assessment undertaken for the task being undertaken.
- Working on Behalf of Horsham District Council (HDC)
After consultation with risk and insurance team at Zurich I can confirm that the District Councils approach to public liability insurance is consistent with that of West Sussex County Council.
• If Horsham District Council ask Parish Councils or volunteers to help as part of a mutual aid arrangement & they carry out duties on behalf of HDC & under our direction (say clearing pavements which are our responsibility) then those actions will be picked up by HDC policies. All tasks conducted on behalf of GDC however should be appropriately risk assessed and documented.
• If under the same conditions a Parish Council asks if it is OK to clear them (but does so of their own volition) then they (the Parish Council) should expect their own liability policy cover to operate.
• If the Parish Council just do it without any referral to HDC then clearly it is down to their (the Parish Councils) own public liability policy cover.
It is always wise and best practice to work along suitable & sufficient risk assessments to ensure that any work undertaken by the Parish Council is done so in a safe and practical manner.
- Regarding the use of Red Diesel by Farmers on Highways
The use of red diesel by farmers who are assisting the community with ice and snow clearance (or other associated tasks for winter maintenance is a permissible act in the eyes of the law. Farmers will not be prosecuted for operating machinery that runs on red diesel whilst assisting the community in severe weather conditions.
5. RISK ASSESSMENTS FOR SNOW/ICE CLEARANCE & DRIVER RISK ASSESSMENTS
Over the next few pages there are selections of suitable & sufficient risk assessments that can be used for snow / ice clearance to demonstrate best practice and ensure the tasks are completed as safely as possible.
Risk Assessments exist for the following procedures and are provided & used by HDC and May Gurney:
• De-icing of Car Parks – Risk Assessment
• Mounting & Demounting of Gritter bodies (demountables)
• Loading salt into Gritter with loading shovel
• Operating Gritter Vehicles
• Mounting Ploughs
• Operating Ploughs
• Washing Down of equipment
Clearly any parish council adopting this form of risk assessment will have to alter and amend it to match the actual work activities and equipment that is being used.
5. ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
ROAD GRITTING & SNOW CLEARANCE BY
WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL HIGHWAYS DEPARTMENT
West Sussex County Council Highways department are responsible for road gritting and snow clearance across the Horsham district. WSCC Highways will add grit to roads and pavements in your area and clear snow in winter. For information about where and when WSCC council is gritting local roads, check its website at http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=10262.
WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS
As well as snow, WSCC also have to deal with:
• Black Ice: This occurs when conditions are frosty and wet. The ice is clear but looks black against the road surface. This makes it exceedingly difficult to see from a vehicle, and very dangerous.
• Hoar Frost: These are the white ice crystals that appear on grass and trees and occasionally form on the roads. Hoar frost can make the surface very slippery.
• Freezing Rain: This is rain which changes to ice as soon as it hits the freezing road surface. Fortunately this is very rare.
WHAT WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL DOES
Our single duty manager is responsible for deciding what action is necessary to protect road users during poor weather.
A daily weather forecast is received at midday for the following 24-hour period, together with road temperature data. This provides the duty manager with the necessary information required to decide the appropriate action to take.
Each area office also has a duty officer on standby out of office hours, at weekends and holiday periods, to act in the event of an emergency.
WINTER GRITTING: OUR POLICY
Our priority is to keep major routes treated and passable during adverse weather conditions. These are generally all 'A' roads, most of the 'B' roads and other roads of local importance, such as bus routes and roads to large schools and hospitals. We cannot afford, nor would it be environmentally acceptable, to salt every single road in the county.
Each route is carefully planned to ensure that a 3 hour response time can be achieved from leaving the depot to completing the route. We currently operate 23 precautionary salting routes within the county. The total road length in West Sussex amounts to 2,476 miles (3,984 Km) of which we treat 41% of the network. This is above the national target, of between 24 - 38% as set by the Audit Commission.
West Sussex County Council has been divided into 3 forecast areas to reflect the diverse weather conditions experienced across the county. Our area highways offices are responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the highway within their appropriate boundary.
Every day around lunchtime a 24-hour weather forecast for each forecast area is received together with road temperature sensor data, to enable the duty manager to decide on what action to take. It is common for a variance in road temperatures to occur across the region, which may result in different decisions being made.
Keeping highways safe and passable during snowfalls requires constant monitoring and resource deployment in response to changing conditions.
Our objective is to keep as much of the network as possible safe and open. When conditions get so bad that not all of the network can be kept open (fortunately this is rare in West Sussex), resources are focussed according to road safety.
Under severe conditions decisions are based on the following priorities:
- Primary roads (all 'A' roads), hospitals, ambulance and other emergency service areas;
- The majority of 'B' roads;
- Other carriageways according to our area highways offices.
- Road closures
It is our policy to work with the police in closing roads if:
- Roads become impassable;
- Road conditions become hazardous.
- Footways and cycle paths
It is our policy to clear snow as soon as possible from all heavily used pedestrian precincts and areas within those precincts. Footways around schools, hospitals, pedestrian crossings, subways, bus stops, railway stations and cycleways are cleared at the discretion of our area highways offices in partnership with district and borough councils. Horsham District Council are prepared and ready to assist with footway & pavement clearance on behalf of WSCC and have indentified many priority routes across the district that will need particular winter treatment. These works will be reactionary only as the District Council does not have the budget or equipment for pre-cautionary treatment.
WHY DO FOOTWAYS NOT GET SALTED BY WSCC?
The total length of footway in West Sussex amounts to 2,567 miles (4,131 Km). To treat all footways by hand or machine would prove to be too costly, uneconomical and resource-intensive. However, many footways have been identified as priority for clearance by Horsham District Council and teams will work through the priority list in attempt to provide safe and suitable pavements and thoroughfares during severe weather.
SHOULD PEOPLE CLEAR ICE AND SNOW FROM DRIVEWAYS AND FOOTPATHS THEMSELVES?
We would be happy if you would show community spirit and help where you can. When clearing ice take care not to make things worse, or make it appear that the footpath is completely free of risk. You will need a shovel and some salt, sand or grit, but don’t try using water or other liquids. It’s easier to clear snow when it is fresh. It can be swept, shovelled or raked, ideally onto grass areas or along the kerb.
6. NEIGHBOURLINESS & VOLUNTEERING - HELPING OUT IN SEVERE WEATHER
During severe weather older people are especially prone to hypothermia and pneumonia. The Red Cross says that unfortunately they are also the most likely to be living in older houses without adequate heating. In the cold weather it’s even more important to support older people, so call in regularly on elderly friends, neighbours and relatives to see if they need help staying warm or getting provisions.
Age Concern/Help the Aged say that in the cold weather it’s even more important to eat at least one hot meal and have hot drinks during the day. Include a good range of foods in your diet and aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Remember frozen vegetables are as good as fresh. Having a hot drink before bed and taking a flask to bed are good ideas too. Anyone concerned about older neighbours can call the Age Concern helpline 0800 00 99 66. www.ageconcern.org.uk.
The umbrella organisation for volunteering in the UK has a number of ways to get involved. If you are interested in making a difference in your community contact them at www.volunteering.org.uk or call Volunteering England on 0845 305 6979.
For the current cold weather they say:
• Call round to check on elderly friends and neighbours. You do not need a Criminal Records Bureau check.
• Help clear pavements to prevent slips and falls – don’t believe the myths about being sued.
• Think of an organisation that has helped you, and help them. Call your children’s school, your health centre or a charity and see if they need a hand.
• Stuck at home due to the snow? Ask your boss if you can use the day to volunteer locally.
• Plumber? Tree surgeon? First-aider? Your skills are really valuable – why not offer to help.
• Be alert – help keep people off frozen streams and ponds.
FALLS & TUMBLES
Slippery and icy conditions make it much more likely that people will stumble and fall, possibly damaging their ligaments, muscles and tendons. It’s often difficult to distinguish between muscle, joint and bone injuries – so if you suspect the injury may be more serious, seek immediate medical help. The initial treatment for both injuries is the same – the RICE procedure:
Rest the injured part
Ice – apply ice or a cold pad to the injured area
Comfortably support the injury using a bandage or soft padding.
Elevate the injured part
NHS Direct is also a good source of prompt health advice. The preparing for emergencies section on the Directgov website has information on how you can become better prepared to deal with emergencies.
Neighbourhood Watch members are being asked to be even more vigilant in this period of severe weather, and to keep an eye out for people who may be vulnerable and need help from their neighbours. For further advice visit the Neighbourhood Watch website www.mynhw.co.uk or call 0116 222 2222 extension 3871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have concerns about homeless people you have seen sleeping outside in the cold weather, in the first instance you should contact your local authority who will alert the necessary services. Most local authorities have out of hours numbers for this sort of thing, but if not, and you are really concerned about someone out of working hours, call the police who should be able to contact local services, including an outreach team in your area. Alternatively if you know of any local homelessness charities you could contact them direct as they will know what local services are available.
4x4 drivers can consider joining one of the response groups located across the country. These offer a variety of services to local authorities, emergency services and other volunteer agencies. Principally this is providing reliable transport in times of severe weather (snow, gales, heavy rain and floods) and other major emergencies. This can be to transport essential personnel or supplies to areas that would be hard or impossible to reach in normal vehicles and/or in support of local authorities’ rest centres. Across the country there are at least 21 response groups. If you are interested in finding out more contact www.4x4response.info
7. TRAVEL & INTERRUPTION
HEAVY SNOW & ICY CONDITIONS
When snow or icy roads are forecast you should adjust your driving to suit the conditions. Black ice isn't always visible and so can be an even greater hazard for both motorists and pedestrians. Black ice may be formed when rain or drizzle fall on a road surface which is at a temperature below zero.
Before snow or ice
• If you have to make a journey when snow is forecast, make sure you have warm clothes, food, water, boots, a torch and spade, and let someone know when you expect to arrive and your route.
• Try to wait until the roads have been gritted before travelling.
• Put grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping on compacted snow.
• Check on vulnerable neighbours.
• During snow or ice
• Avoid travel if possible.
If you must drive check the Highway Code for advice on driving in ice and snowy weather. A summary of the advice is:
• Take care around gritters. Don't be tempted to overtake.
• Slow down — it can take 10 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.
• If you get stuck, stay with your car and tie something brightly coloured to your aerial.
• If you go outside wear several layers of clothing and keep dry to prevent loss of body heat.
• Watch out for signs of hypothermia — uncontrollable shivering, slow/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.
After snow and ice
• Be careful when walking or driving on compacted snow — it may have turned to ice.
• Take care when shovelling snow. Cold air makes it harder to work and breathe, which adds some extra strain on the body and can be the cause of heart attacks in the vulnerable.
The advice from the Horsham District Community Safety Partnership is to put together a winter car kit to keep you moving and not to travel if the conditions are very poor. For all motorists it is recommended that this kit should include winter car accessories such as the following:
• High quality ice scraper and a good set of tyre chains.
• A bottle of anti freeze
• Jump leads or an emergency jump starter
• A torch and reflective warning triangle
• First aid kit and basic tools
• A shovel and some material to provide traction such as sand or cat litter.
• A tow rope or similar in case recovery is required.
Also, think about your own health and wellbeing, should you get stuck in your vehicle or indeed find yourself unable to get home. Consider the following:
• Make sure that in the car you have waterproof boots, a hat, gloves and thick coat. Layers of clothes are important to trap air and keep the body warm.
• A sign that says HELP in big bright letters.
• Buy a thermal blanket. You never know when you’re going to get stranded in your car. Having a thermal blanket in your winter car kit ensures that you stay warm until help arrives. Thermal blankets take up little space and can be placed in a convenient location, such as under the seat.
• Make sure that if you have a mobile ‘phone, it is fully charged and have a car charger with you.
• Pack a change of clothes. There may be an occasion when getting home is impossible and you have to stay elsewhere. If this does occur fresh and dry clothes will be very useful. Should things get really bad, the extra clothes can also be used to help keep warm.
• It is always worth having some bottled water and a high calorie snack such as chocolate in the car.
• If you are travelling in the car during bad weather, make sure that you tell somebody where you are going and some idea of timings.
Out and about in the cold
The Red Cross advises that you stop and offer roadside assistance if you see someone's car has broken down during severe weather. This is a very small act of volunteering which could save someone's life. But in areas where heavy snow is likely to fall, be prepared.
If you break down or get stuck in snow, don’t leave your car – it will get noticed before you will. Put the HELP sign in your window, tie the headscarf to your car's aerial, turn off the engine and curl up in the blanket. Don’t run your car's engine for more than a few minutes at a time and make sure its exhaust isn’t blocked with snow.
When the severe weather has passed, remember that it catches many people unaware every year in the UK, so always be prepared to keep safe and to help others.
Regular updates on all areas that are due to be gritted can be found on Twitter @wsccgritting.
SEE BELOW FOR DOWNLOADABLE FULL GUIDANCE NOTES & MAP OF WHERE HIPPO BAGS WILL BE PLACED WITHIN SOUTHWATER
Severe Weather Map
- 2.89 MB
In Case of Severe Weather - HDC News Item January '13
- 151 KB