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Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Thursday, 25 November 2010
Snow: All the latest from BBC Kent



    For many people, the wintry conditions make life a good deal harder.

    We have pulled together information from various sources to help make things a bit easier, including details of the Cold Weather Payments and ways of minimising your energy bills.

    The Highways Agency has advice on drivers venturing out in the cold weather and NHS Direct has information on keeping warm.

    Keep Warm Keep Well: from the Directgov website

    Keep Warm Keep Well is a national campaign providing information and advice about how to stay well and warm in winter and what financial support is available. Special leaflets for families, people over 60 and those with disabilities or long-term health conditions can be downloaded from the website below:

    CSV at BBC Radio Kent has some hard copies of the Keep Warm, Keep Well leaflets which are also available in large print and braille. Call 08000 680675.

    Cold Weather Payments: from the Directgov website

    Electric fire
    Help towards heating bills may be available

    The cost of keeping warm can put many people off heating their homes as much as they would like.

    You may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment for each week of very cold weather in your area if you get Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

    Pension Credit

    If you are in receipt of Pension Credit, you will usually receive Cold Weather Payments.

    Income Support and Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

    If you are in receipt of Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, you will usually receive Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of following:

    • a disability or pensioner premium
    • a child who is disabled
    • Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
    • a child under five living with you

    Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

    If you are in receipt of Income-related ESA, you will usually receive Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of the following:

    • the support or work-related component of ESA
    • a severe or enhanced disability premium
    • a pensioner premium
    • a child who is disabled
    • Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
    • a child under five living with you

    You will get £25 when the average temperature where you live is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below for seven consecutive days during the period from 1 November to 31 March. Specified Meteorological Office weather stations are used to obtain this information.

    To find out if your area is due to receive Cold Weather Payment, use the link below:

    Cold Weather Payments will not affect other benefits you may be getting.

    Keeping warm: from NHS Direct website

    Cups of tea
    Drinking regular hot drinks will help keep you warm

    Follow these tips to keep you and your family warm and well in extremely cold weather.

    • To keep warm and well during periods of cold weather:
    • Keep curtains drawn and doors closed to block out draughts.
    • Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
    • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer).
    • Keep as active as possible.
    • Wrap up warm if you need to go outside on cold days.

    Keep your home at the recommended temperature of 18 to 21°C (64 to 70°F). If you can't heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep.

    Saving energy in the home: from the EDF website

    Electricity meter
    Cutting your energy use could save pounds

    There are lots of ways to use energy more efficiently at home. Most cost nothing, some cost a little - but together they could save you a lot of money on your energy bills.

    • Run your heating for just one hour less everyday
    • Keep the air flow vents on your electric heaters clear of obstructions
    • Turning down your thermostat by 1 degree and you could save up to £65 a year
    • If you're not in the room for a while - turn off the lights
    • Turn your appliances off instead of leaving them on standby and you could save up to £37 a year
    • Use the right sized pan for the food and the hob
    • Keep saucepan lids on to keep in the heat
    • Only use the water you need
    • Make toast in the toaster not under the grill
    • If we all only boil what we need for a cup of tea rather than filling up the kettle every time, we'd save money and enough electricity in a single year to power the street lights in the UK for more than six months(Source: Energy Saving Trust, 2008)
    • Don't set the thermostat too high - 60C/140F is fine for a hot bath or wash
    • Take a shower - it is faster, cheaper and more efficient than your bath

    Advice on driving: from the Hightways Agency website

    A taxi abandoned in the snow near Deal. Photo by Tony Flashman
    Use as high a gear as possible to avoid wheel spin

    Drivers are advised to check the forecast and road conditions, leave extra time for their journeys, and to delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.

    Drivers who are not used to driving in such conditions are reminded that it can take up to ten times longer to stop when it is icy, so allow more room to slow down and stop. Avoid losing control of your vehicle because of wheel spin by using the highest gear possible. Avoid sudden braking, acceleration and sharp turns.

    Road users are also advised to be prepared with warm clothing and an emergency pack, which includes food and water, boots, de-icer, a torch, and a shovel in case of snow.

    Plan your journey before leaving home. Check your route for delays, and the weather forecast. Listen to travel news on your car radio.





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