Last updated: Thursday, 25 November 2010
Advice from the emergency services, councils and health services on how to stay safe in bad weather.
In Cumbria the emergency services and other agencies are well trained and experienced in dealing with weather extremes.
We will update this page as the assorted agencies issue emergency advice.
For the most up to date information on road closures listen to
BBC Radio Cumbria
or visit the
Cumbria County Council website
Driving in the snow
- Plan your journey in advance
- Only drive if essential
- Check weather forecasts and tune into local radio stations to check road conditions and closures
- Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive
- Make sure you are equipped with warm clothes, food, boots, a torch and a spade
- Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out and carry a screen scraper and de-icer
If you have an accident, break-down or become stuck in bad weather conditions:
- Do not use a mobile phone while driving. Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make the call
- On a motorway, it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone because the emergency services and breakdown recovery services will be able to locate you easily. If you have to use a mobile phone, make sure you know your location from the numbers on the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder
- If you have to leave your vehicle to get help, make sure other drivers can see you
- Keep lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow
- Keep your battery fully charged
- Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer
- Check that tyres have plenty of tread depth and are the correct pressure
Drive according to snowy and icy conditions
- Allow extra time and distance to brake as it can take ten times longer to stop
- Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin
- To brake without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently
- Be wary of satellite navigation systems as they tend to direct you over high rural roads that are likely to be closed or particularly hazardous in winter
- Do not assume that pedestrians have seen you. They may be elderly, young or not be able to hear you
- Do not attempt to cross flooded roads if the water seems too deep
- Drive slowly through water in first gear but keep the engine speed high by slipping the clutch - this will stop you from stalling
- Test your brakes when you have driven through a flood before you drive again at normal speed
Diesel powered vehicles may suffer problems in low temperatures. Normal diesel fuel will cloud at 0 degrees centigrade, it will form a gel at around -10 and turn to wax at around -35. For bio diesels these temperatures will be less. This can result in vehicles not starting or wax crystals blocking fuel lines and pumps. Diesel flow additives can be bought from most automotive stores to counteract this.
Health and Hospitals
Anyone with a pre existing health condition should speak to their doctor about how to protect themselves during winter.
If you need health advice or assistance it is important to seek the correct help from the right source:
- Self-care - a well-stocked medicine cabinet can help with most minor infections and cuts such as diarrhoea, colds, flu and headaches, but seek advice if worried
- NHS Direct - on 0845 46 47 or www.nhs.uk - offers expert help and advice over the phone
- Community Pharmacy - has fully trained health professionals who'll provide quality healthcare advice
- GP Surgery - if you have an illness or injury that won't go away
- NHS Walk-In Services - both Minor Injury Units or Primary Care Assessment Services can treat minor injuries and illnesses
- A&E and 999 are for life threatening conditions and emergencies only
Preparation at home
Stock up on non-perishable foods to keep you going in the event that you have difficulty travelling to local shops.
Keep your mobile phone charged in case of emergency and have torches and candles at hand in case there are any problems with energy supplies.
A well-stocked medicine cabinet can help with most minor infections and cuts such as diarrhoea, colds, flu and headaches, but seek advice if worried.
- Keep yourself warm:
- Have regular hot drinks and meals
- Wear warm clothes
- Stay active
- Try to keep the room you're in at a temperature of 21 degrees or more
Frozen ponds, lakes and rivers
Do not to put yourself or others in danger by venturing onto frozen bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers.
It may seem tempting but in doing so you are putting yourself at risk of drowning if the ice breaks and you are also putting others who may attempt to rescue you in danger.
Parents should know where their children are when they are out and about in the cold weather and discuss with them the dangers of playing on frozen bodies of water - if possible - never leave youngsters unsupervised near frozen ponds, rivers and lakes.
Pet owners should also keep dogs on leads near frozen water if there is a risk of them venturing onto the ice and getting into trouble.
Frozen pipes and no water
A little advance planning could avoid pipes freezing or assist if they do.
The problem is that freezing temperatures could freeze the water inside the customers' own water pipes, cutting off the water supply.
If you have no water, check whether the problem is affecting your neighbours before contacting United Utilities. A problem with the mains supply will affect large numbers of people, so if it is only you or a couple of your neighbours the most likely cause is your own frozen water pipes.
Thawing your pipes can take some time but it is possible to help yourself. Here's how.
First, locate your main stop tap. It is usually under the kitchen sink or in a utility room closest to where the water supply enters your property.
Apply a hot water bottle to the pipe or use a hairdryer in short bursts. Please note you should never use a naked flame near the pipes.
The information is also available on
United Utilites' website
. The website also contains details about the operation of your heating system while your pipework is frozen.
Dealing with the thaw
As temperatures begin to drop, the snow and ice that has built up will begin to thaw and melt. This will make driving conditions treacherous as water sits on top of ice, and again when melt-water refreezes overnight. Drive according to the conditions.
Pipes that have burst as the water inside them freezes and expands will begin to thaw out and may lead to flooding in properties and homes.
Try to stock up on feed for pets and livestock. If you are having difficulties reaching animals or sourcing feed contact the National Farmers Union for advice if you are a member or the Farm Crisis Network at www.farmcrisisnetwork.org.uk or call 0845 367 9990.