Stay warm and safe this winter, urges Derbyshire County Council

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As temperatures start to dip, Derbyshire County Council is reminding residents to keep themselves safe and warm in the months ahead.

The county council is working with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, Derbyshire police, East Midlands Ambulance Service, the primary care trust and voluntary groups to draw up contingency plans to make sure services continue to run as normally as possible if we are faced with a harsh winter this year.

County council Cabinet Member for Public Health Councillor Carol Hart said: “We want to be as prepared as possible for any problems caused by severe weather if we’re hit by a big freeze again this year.

“We’re in regular touch with our partner organisations to ensure plans are in place. These plans will help to ensure services run as normally as possible, but meanwhile it is always wise to bear in mind some simple tips to stay safe and warm over the cold spell in cases of emergency.”

Tips being given out to coincide with the Government’s national Get Ready for Winter campaign include:

* Keep your home warm. Your main living room should be between around 18-21C (65-70F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C (61F). Money for winter fuel bills is available to people over 60. To find out more call 08459 151515 (8.30am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday) textphone 0845 601 5613 or visit www.direct.gov.uk/winterfuel

* Warm the bedroom and bed before turning in for the night. Your bedroom should be kept above 18°C overnight.

* Eat well. Food is a vital source of energy, which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active at home if you can.

* Wrap up warm, inside and out. Layer your clothing to stay warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

* When it snows, make sure you’re in the know. Visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/snow or m.derbyshire.gov.uk for smart phone users to find out school closures, what’s happening on the roads, weather forecasts, gritting routes and updates, to find your nearest grit bin or report one empty as well as advice on staying safe and well.

* Keep an eye out for bogus officials who may call door-to-door without an appointment claiming to be from heating supply or other companies checking for problems caused by the cold weather. Always check the identity of callers to your home and if in doubt call the police.

* Be a ‘snow buddy’. Check on older neighbours and relatives to make sure they’re safe and well. Make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather. If they are eligible for a flu jab they should have it. And it also helps to make sure they have a list of contacts they may need such as a plumber if pipes burst, an electrician and other useful numbers. To find legitimate traders visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/trustedtrader

Councillor Hart added: “We know from experience that prolonged spells of severe weather can cause problems but if we all take extra care and look out for our elderly or vulnerable neighbours, we can minimise disruption and help them stay safe.”

If you are concerned about an older person or a vulnerable adult Call Derbyshire on 08456 058 058.

Residents can also prepare for winter by making sure:

* Portable gas heaters are well-maintained and electric fires fitted with the right fuse and don’t have frayed or damaged cables

* Central heating boilers are serviced regularly.

* Their chimney is swept regularly if they have an open fire

* Paraffin heaters are thoroughly cleaned and the wick checked and trimmed.

* Portable heaters have a safety guard and are placed away from furniture, beds or curtains.

* Electric blankets are serviced at least every three years

For more information about how to help keep safe and warm this winter visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/snow, www.derbyshire-fire-service.co.uk or www.derbyshire.police.uk or www.metoffice.gov.uk/getreadyforwinter or www.nhs.uk/livewell/winterhealth/pages/keepwarmkeepwell.aspx
The county council’s highways team is also offering some advice on staying safe on the roads during bad weather.

* Only travel if your journey is really necessary.

* In icy conditions slow down, steer gently and avoid harsh braking.

* Use dipped headlights if driving during snowfalls.

* Check your lights are working and your windscreen washer is full.

* If going on a long journey take a shovel, torch, boots, warm clothing, food and a hot drink and charged mobile telephone.