Keep yourself safe in the wintry weather

In view of anticipated heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures, Thames Valley Police, with its partners in the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum, is advising people to take steps to keep themselves safe.

This is the last weekend before Christmas and is expected to be one of the busiest of the year on the roads.

Before setting out, drivers are being asked to check the road conditions and ask themselves whether their journey is absolutely necessary. If they feel they have to travel, they are asked to heed the following advice:

>> Prepare yourself for the journey: check road conditions, plan your journey before setting out and leave extra time for the journey if travel conditions are poor. Use major roads where possible.

>> Pack warm clothes and blankets, boots, food, drinks, a fully-charged mobile phone, a torch, jump leads, tow rope, first aid kit, warning triangle, de-icer and a shovel. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive.

>> Prepare your vehicle for your journey – make sure your vehicle is well maintained, that all lights are clean and bulbs are working, that it is clear of snow and ice (particularly the windscreen) and that your tyres are at the correct pressure and depth tread. Use antifreeze and screen wash and ensure the battery is reliable.

>> Drive safely, even where roads have been treated. Even if there is no snow, driving conditions are expected to be difficult, with black ice likely.

>> Keep your distance from the vehicle in front, avoid hard braking or acceleration and steer gently. Avoid wheel spins by using low revs and the highest gear possible. If you skid, ease off the accelerator, and try to avoid braking hard.

>> If you get stuck in the snow, an old rug or mat under a slipping wheel should provide traction to help get you out.

>> Drivers are urged not to abandon their vehicles, especially where they may obstruct emergency service vehicles and major roads or motorways. If they do, the vehicles may have to be removed and it will be the driver’s responsibility to pay for the cost of recovering them.

To find out which roads are being treated, refer to your local authority’s website. However, drivers are urged to drive with care, even on those roads that have been treated.

View the Highways Agency website for up-to-date information on road conditions on England’s motorways and trunk roads, or call 0300 123 5000.

Visit the Met Office website for information on weather conditions, or listen to local radio.

Residents are reminded to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours who may be in need of assistance, whether it’s by clearing a safe pathway or helping to keep them warm.

There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice from the pavement outside your home, as long as you clear it carefully. Use salt or sand, rather than water, which is likely to refreeze and turn to black ice. Don’t use salt from salting bins - this will be needed to keep the roads clear. When you’re shovelling snow, take care to put it where it won’t block people’s paths or drains. For more guidance on clearing paths yourself, go to the Directgov website.

The public are reminded that emergency calls for ambulance, police and fire services should be made in genuine emergency situations only.

If you are feeling poorly, choose the right NHS service to help you get well. The NHS is giving the following advice:

>> If your GP surgery is closed, you can call the Out of Hours Service on 0845 345 8995 and get advice, or a doctor may call you.

>> If you do have to make journeys out, please make sure that you have appropriate clothing and footwear to help prevent unnecessary slips, trips or falls.

>> If you are unfortunate and do slip or trip, remember minor injuries units may be the best and fastest place to go for treatment.