December 2014 Newsletter Vol. 51
**** * *Preparing Yourself for Winter 2014 in Midlothian * * *****
This year disabled people across Scotland are being encouraged to get ready for winter.
Getting ready for winter is something we all need to do – it only takes a few simple steps. It’s time to start thinking about how you could be affected by severe weather, and what you need to do now to be better prepared.
Whether it’s at home, in the community or behind the wheel, we all need to consider what might help. By thinking about how we can all be ready, we can help Midlothian be better prepared.
Previous Years severe weather caught many people out.
This special newsletter contains some good advice and tips to prepare us for this winter. Some useful phone numbers are included. As part of ‘My Winter Plan’, write down your important contact numbers now and keep them by your phone. We have included many sources of support. Please take time to read through them and make sure you have thought about the things that will make this winter manageable, safe and enjoyable!
Make sure you will be able to have your footpaths and driveway cleared if severe weather strikes. It is a good idea to keep a shovel (specially designed snow shovels are particularly good) and some salt or grit at home. Remember to find out where your nearest local authority grit bin is located. Information about local services is kept up-to-date on Midlothian Council’s website (www.midlothian.gov.uk), so it’s important to check for the latest information and advice during severe weather. Stay tuned to local radio stations such as Black Diamond and Forth FM as they also provide advice and updates during bad weather.
Here are some recommended items to keep in your car over winter:
- A blanket;
- Warm winter clothing (including boots);
- Ice scraper and de-icer;
- Battery jump leads;
- A map for any unplanned diversions;
- A first-aid kit;
- A torch and spare batteries;
- A mobile phone and charger;
- A shovel for snow; Food and drink that will last (and a warm drink in a flask before each journey).
A message from Midlothian Council
In this Newsletter, readers will find plenty of information about how to keep safe and well this winter. Our spread includes top tips about what to do in severe weather as well as information on how to cope if snow does come. For more information visit www.midlothian.gov.uk/severe-weather Our council teams are ready up for whatever the season throws at us.
Midlothian Council gritting teams will be out round the clock as required, our land and countryside services staff members are all on hand to tackle fallen branches if needed and there’s more than 5,000 tons of grit in stock.
Councillor Derek Rosie, the cabinet member with responsibility for roads, said: “The weather can change extremely quickly and it’s good to know we are prepared to cope whatever happens. “As usual, if we do get heavy snow, we are relying on residents who are able to do their bit by clearing pavements outside their homes.
“If local people could also check on vulnerable neighbours that is a huge help.” The focus for the council is to keep priority roads - such as bus routes and those near hospitals and schools- open throughout winter.
There are more than 430 grit bins placed throughout the area for general use. Please use the grit for footpaths and roads rather than private driveways.
Midlothian Council are also reminding people to If the weather does force us to close a school, nursery or public building then we will tell residents as soon as possible to allow you to plan ahead.
Keeping Midlothian moving
If there’s heavy snow, police have powers to remove vehicles parked on bus routes.
“No parking” cones will be placed along specific lengths on the streets but only when prolonged and heavy snow is forecast.
A temporary one way system may also operate, if required, around the upper estates at Mayfield and around the Birkenside loop at Gorebridge.
In addition, Lothian Bus can contact us immediately to have a car moved or a bus route gritted.
For maps of routes affected visit www.midlothian.gov.uk/info/200287/roads/287/winter_on_midlothian_roads/5
The streets affected so far by the traffic regulations are:
- Woodburn Park
- Salters’ Road
- Woodburn Road
- James Lean Avenue
- Woodburn Avenue
- Eskbank Road
- Fountain Place
- Powdermill Brae
- Polton Road West
- Lothian Street
- Dundas Street
- Polton Avenue Road
- Carnethie Street
Get your home ready for winter
Be prepared for severe weather by making your home more energy efficient, keeping it dry (protecting pipes and knowing how to turn off the water supply if you need to) and staying connected (keep a battery operated radio and a list of emergency contact numbers to hand) .
Know how to turn off your electricity If you live in an area at risk of flooding, plan how to make it harder for floodwater to get into the property such as having sandbags at the ready.
Make sure you have access to a shovel and salt or grit, for clearing snow and ice from paths and drives. Know where your nearest grit bin is – we have more than 430 of them in Midlothian. These are all filled before severe weather strikes but if yours gets emptied then go to www.midlothian.gov.uk and complete a grit bin request form or Tel : 0131 270 5730.
Get prepared at home by creating an emergency kit that contains what you need. Here are some things to include in your emergency kit:
- Your household plan, including emergency contact numbers
- A battery operated torch and spare batteries (or a wind up torch)
- A battery operated radio and spare batteries (or a wind up radio)
- Any essential medication, some toiletries and a first aid kit
- Three days’ supply of bottled water and ready to eat food (that won’t go off)
- Food supplies
- Formula/baby food
- Pet supplies
- Copies of important documents like insurance policies and birth certificates
- Pencil, paper, a penknife and a whistle
- Spare keys to your home and car
- Spare glasses or contact lenses
Scottish Water has plenty of advice on beating the cold
If a pipe freezes, turn off the valve and open all COLD taps to drain the system, but NEVER turn on the hot taps. This is because if you have a hot water cylinder it may collapse if the pips leading to it are frozen.
Visit Scottish Water’s website to find out how to protect your pipes, locate your valve and what to do if your pipes burst. www.scottishwater.co.uk/winter
Get ready for winter when you are on the move
Before travelling in bad weather, you should:
- Check the weather forecast and road conditions
- Consider whether you need to travel right now or if you can wait until the weather improves
- Consider alternative routes
- Consider alternative modes of transport
- Allow extra time for your journey
- Make sure your car is ready for a journey in poor weather
- Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged
- Set your car radio to auto travel bulletins. Tell someone your destination and when you expect to arrive
- Consider fitting winter tyres to your vehicle
- Be prepared for severe weather by packing a few essential items to take with you, such as warm clothes, food and drink, and means of contacting your family or friends.
More information is available at www.readyscotland.org
My Important Phone Numbers
Write down the names and phone numbers of people you may need to contact during a period of bad weather and keep this list next to your telephone.
Non Emergency Police
0131 270 7500/663 7211
0131 554 4494
National Gas Emergency Service (if you smell gas)
0800 111 999
Scottish Power Energy Networks
0800 092 92 90
0845 601 8855
Extreme severe weather, for vulnerable people
0131 271 3233
Emergency Helpline for Severe Weather Conditions
Midlothian Council’s Social Work team will run an emergency helpline which is activated and publicised if severe weather arrives. This is for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people without other means of support – for example where carers or family members are unavailable.
The helpline can assist if someone is running out of their prescription medication and/or basic groceries like milk and bread. Midlothian Council works in partnership with the British Red Cross so they can arrange for a volunteer to pick up and deliver an emergency prescription or supplies to your home.
It is important that everyone keeps in contact with any friends and neighbours who might require assistance during periods of severe weather. Older people particularly value the information and support they receive from neighbours during these times. Someone they know popping round can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
If you would like to help any elderly or vulnerable people in your area, you could contact your local community council.
If the weather is bad, you (or someone you know) might be concerned about transport or whether a Midlothian Council facility has had to close. For up-to-date information during severe weather, visit www.midlothian.gov.uk or call the contact centre on 0131 663 7211.
In an emergency, the Social Work Department can be contacted on 0800 731 6969 (out of normal office hours).
Other key phone numbers in Midlothian:
Non Emergency Police
Midlothian Social Work Services
0131 271 3900
0131 663 7211
0131 561 5284
0845 130 2322
Midlothian Travel Team
0131 561 5445
Carers VOCAL Midlothian
0131 663 6869
Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living
0131 475 2350
Midcare (Telecare) Midlothian
0131 271 3900
0131 447 1718
0131 447 9949
Midlothian Council – Housing Benefits
0131 271 3201
Midlothian Council – Direct Payments
0131 271 3900
Midlothian Community Hospital
0131 454 1001
British Red Cross
0131 654 0340
Citizens Advice Bureau Dalkeith
0131 660 1636
Citizens Advice Bureau Penicuik
01968 675 259
Winter in the Community
Some family members or neighbours may need extra help during bad weather. Have their phone numbers to hand, and offer to help with grocery shopping or other essential tasks.
If you feel alone during a patch of bad weather, equip yourself with a few useful contact numbers; a neighbour who can help, the local minister, or your local community council.
Clearing ice or snow from your pathway reduces the risk of falling or slipping. Remember - for some people ice can make things as difficult as deep snow.
Your community can get ready for winter by agreeing what you and your neighbours can do on your own or collectively to minimise the effects of winter weather.
Midlothian Council will do all they can to keep essential services running during periods of severe weather. However, severe weather may cause some changes to routine local services such as the temporary closure of schools, changes to the times of refuse collection and a greater emphasis on gritting and route clearance.
Preparing for Winter
Getting ready for winter at home is easy. Just make a household plan and collect together the items for an emergency kit that may be essential for you and your family.
It is time to think about winter-proofing your home. Do you know what action to take if a water pipe bursts? Do you know where your stop valve is and how to turn it off? Do you know how to turn your electricity supply off at the mains?
If cold weather is forecast, and during a cold snap, keep your heating on at a low temperature to help prevent pipes from freezing.
Making your home energy efficient will make it cheaper and quicker to heat during cold weather. For further information, please call the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Scotland Helpline on 0800 512 012.
Remember to check the terms of your household insurance policies to find out what cover you have for risks such as flood or storm damage or for the costs of temporary accommodation if your home is not habitable. Consider taking out insurance if you don’t currently have any.
It is also important to not only prepare your home, but to prepare your body for winter! Preventative measures can be taken to avoid colds and flu. People aged over 65 years or those who have a medical condition can check with their local medical practice to get advice on a seasonal flu vaccination.
Keep a supply of remedies at home. Paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin all help to reduce raised temperatures and relieve the aches and pains associated with coughs, colds and flu. Many cold and flu remedies already contain paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin. Using several products together can be very dangerous and can lead to an overdose. Products are labelled to indicate their contents, so always check before using them. If you do have a cough, cold or flu, drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic liquids to replace the fluids lost after sweating. Keep warm and rest as much as you can.
It is best to periodically check that the medicines in your home are up-to-date. This is why it is important to keep them in their original containers. Always follow the instructions on the box or label. If you are unsure about taking any medicines, consult with your doctor or pharmacist first.
To combat the cold, layers of thin clothing are far more effective than one thick layer. Choose clothes made of wool, cotton or fleecy synthetic fibres. Remember to wear a hat when outdoors and ensure you wear footwear with a good grip.
During the holiday season, most GP practices will be closed on the 25th and 26th December and 1st and 2nd January.
Most pharmacies will also be closed during the holidays. Please refer to the NHS.24 website, www.nhs.24.com/ for opening times.
Remember to order and collect any repeat prescriptions you may require in sufficient time prior to the holidays. Hospital Accident and Emergency services (A&E) are for emergency and urgent situations only. A&E is not an alternative to G.P.s. Please don’t go to A&E if your doctor can’t see you immediately or when your surgery is closed.
Emergency Kit (things I may need during bad weather)
Although not exhaustive, here is a list of items you may wish to consider storing in case of bad weather when you may not be able to leave your home. It is also worth considering supplies you may need in case of a power cut:
- Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits);
- Drinking water;
- Non-electric can opener;
- Prescription drugs and other medicine;
- First-aid kit;
- Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways;
- Flashlight and extra batteries;
- Battery-powered radio;
- Fully charged mobile phone;
- Any pet food required;
- Long life or powdered milk;
- Books and magazines;
- Crosswords and puzzles;
- Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways;
- Battery-powered lamps or lanterns (To prevent the risk of fire, avoid using candles);
- Blankets and extra clothes should your heating not work;
- Juice and enhanced waters in boxes and plastic bottles;
- Emergency contact list .
Cold Weather Payment/Sign Up
With a squeeze being applied at every turn to disabled people, we will have to use every measure to reduce out-going money.
Cold Weather Payments are made by the Government to households in receipt of qualifying benefits during periods of cold weather. These payments are to help with the extra heating costs if the average temperature where you live is recorded as 0°C or below for seven days in a row. Eligible households will get £25 for each seven day period between 1 November and 31 March, paid in the same way as their normal benefits.
To qualify for cold weather payments you will:
- Have a child living with you who was born on or after 01 April 2008;
- Receive Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance;
- Receive Disability Living Allowance or you receive Disability Living Allowance on behalf of a child living with you;
- Receive War Disablement Pension;
- Receive Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit;
- Receive an additional payment (such as the work-related activity group or support; component of Employment and Support Allowance) because of sickness or disability.
You will be required to contact your energy provider and complete the registration form :
britishgaswarmhomediscount.com or 0800 072 8625
www.edfenergyonline.co.uk/sme-online-signup/ or call 0800 015 0960
www.npowerwarmhomediscount.com/ or call 0808 172 6999
www.scottishpower.co.uk 0800 027 0072
Scottish Power has made a Winter Commitment:
No upper limit on the number of customers who can receive the Warm Home Discount Broader Group Rebate;
A written estimated saving quote sent to all quarterly credit customers;
Free insulation and heating measures for qualifying customers;
A winter debt recovery break for their most vulnerable prepayment customers.
And No Winter Disconnections!
Keeping Affordably Warm this Winter
Energy prices keep rising and many people will struggle this winter living in a cold home or will get into fuel debt.
There is help out there to support people who are struggling to keep their home warm. To identify if someone needs help ask these four key questions:
- Is their home cold?
- Is their home damp?
- Is their home draughty?
- Are they concerned about affording energy in their home?
- If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these, what next?
Support is available through:
1) the Scottish Government’s Energy Assistance Package. Just ring the Energy Saving Scotland advice centre on 0800 512 012 for more information.
2) Changeworks’ Affordable Warmth Team provide outreach support to people who struggle with heating costs, gas or electricity debt, or with staying warm, dry and comfortable in their home.
They can help people get the most out of their heating and hot water system, resolve fuel billing problems, help negotiate with suppliers, access energy efficiency grants and give advice on choosing a suitable gas/electricity tariff. They can support people living in Midlothian, Edinburgh and East Lothian.
They can also visit people at home.
If you would like to contact one of their advisors - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fill in their online referral form on their website: www.changeworks.org.uk/resources/referral-form-for-heat-up
or call 0800 512 012 and ask for the Affordable Warmth Outreach Team.
Some Good Sources of up-to-date Communication if it Snows!
Midlothian Council: Website: www.midlothian.gov.uk/
Midlothian Voluntary Action
Other Essential Contacts
For all other essential contact details see the Ready Scotland website:
Lothian Buses website: www.lothianbuses.com
(A good site to check if you have a Smartphone and want to know if the bus you are waiting on has got stuck in snow!)
Midlothian Council Awareness
To ensure Midlothian Council provide the best possible service in severe weather we ask that residents provide us with Feedback: 0131 561 5444
In very extreme weather, anyone who is vulnerable and needs help can telephone 0131 271 3233.
For more information on what the Council does in severe weather, visit www.midlothian.gov.uk/severe-weather.
In snow and freezing conditions Midlothian Council operate a gritting and clearing policy according to priority routes. During severe conditions treatment of priority 2 and 3 routes can be delayed as resources will be concentrated on ensuring that the priority 1 are kept clear.
If there is a problem that requires attention then please contact Midlothian Council and report it, you can also request that a grit bin is replenished preferbly by completing the online form or by calling 0131 663 1103. For more information on getting ready for Winter please visit the Ready Scotland Website at http://readyscotland.org/
Driving Through Ice and Snow
Your stopping distance increases ten times when driving in snow and ice so:
- Select second gear when pulling away, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin;
- It’s not always obvious that the road’s icy – look for clues like ice on the pavement or on your windscreen;
- Don’t brake too hard – it’ll just lock up your wheels and make you skid further;
- Clear any snow on the roof of the vehicle before you drive off, as it can slip down over the windscreen and obscure your view;
- Look out for winter service vehicles spreading salt or using snow ploughs.
Clearing Paths and Driveways after Snow
Be a good neighbour and clear paths of ice and snow during cold weather if you are able to do so. A helping hand with this can make all the difference for people who may be unable to clear their own paths or who need to use local paths to access services.
- It’s much easier to clear fresh snow;
- Do not use hot water. This will melt the snow, but may well replace it with black ice increasing the risk of injury;
- Choose suitable clothing for the task, e.g. footwear that provides a good grip;
- Do not take unnecessary risks in the road. Traffic will find it difficult to stop quickly in icy conditions. When clearing snow and ice, wear visible clothing that helps traffic to see you;
- If shovelling snow, think about where you are going to put it so that it does not block people‘ paths or simply shift the problem elsewhere. Make sure it will not cause problems when it melts. Piling snow over gullies or drains may stop melting snow from draining away and allow it to refreeze;
- Clear a small path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a safe surface to walk on. You can then shovel from the centre to the sides;
- Spread some grit on the area you have cleared to prevent ice forming. If necessary, ordinary table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass;
- If there is no salt available, then a little sand or ash can be used. It will not have the same de-icing properties as salt but should offer grip under foot;
- Use the sun to your advantage. Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath, but you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop refreezing overnight;
- Salt can be washed away by further snowfalls or rain and then refreeze, leaving black ice. If this happens more salt should be used before temperatures reach freezing;
- Particular care and attention should be given to steps and steep slopes. Additional salt could be used in these areas to reduce the risk of slipping;
- Try to sweep up any excess grit, sand or other substances used come the thaw.
After the Snow Comes the Thaw
After a period of severe winter weather, the thaw comes as a relief. But it has its own risks and challenges. You can prepare for these by taking some simple steps and keeping up to date on the current situation.
Make sure you know where to locate the stop valve which controls the water supply entering your home. If you suspect you have a burst pipe, turn off the water supply immediately.
Icicles and excess snow on roofs
If your property has large amounts of overhanging snow or large icicles, try to make anyone entering it aware of the risk (a simple note on your door may do the job). If you are confident that it is safe to do so, you should try to remove overhanging icicles that pose a threat on your own property - but ladders should not be used in icy conditions, nor should you hang out of windows to reach roof areas. It is important to let children know of the risks of falling icicles - and of the danger of throwing snow or any other objects onto (or at) icicles or snowy roofs.
Greeting from Forward Mid
Forward Mid hope that you’ve accomplished everything you’ve set your mind on during that past year.
If not, let 2015 be the year of your personal success.
Forward Mid wish you all the love in the world along with the peace to enjoy it.
Every care has been taken to ensure that the content of this work is accurate at the time of writing. However, no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any statement in this work can be accepted by the authors
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