December 2018 Newsletter Vol. 70
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.
In recent years severe winter weather struck quickly leaving some people vulnerable. A little planning now can help keep people warm and safe this winter.
Identify family or neighbours who may need an extra helping hand if severe weather strikes. Have their ‘phone numbers to hand, and offer to help with grocery shopping or other essential tasks.
Equally if you think you may feel isolated or alone during a patch of bad weather, equip yourself with a few useful local contact numbers - a neighbour who can help, the local minister or your local community council.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.
Communities throughout the country are being urged to follow Scottish Water’s winter code - a set of simple steps you can take to protect your pipes. Be prepared and heat, insulate and protect your home. Download the Scottish Water winter poster to display in your local community to help people know where to find more winter information and advice.
Your community can get ready for winter by agreeing what you, your neighbours and your colleagues can do on your own and collectively to minimise the effects of winter weather where you live and work.
You can volunteer to help others during winter by contacting Volunteer Midlothian on 0131 660 1216. 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 collections and a greater emphasis on gritting and route clearance. Information about local services is kept up to date on Midlothian Council’s website, so it’s important to check with them for the latest information and advice during severe 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;
- Emergency contact list;
- 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;
- Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways.
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’ Warm and Well Midlothian provide support to people who struggle with heating costs. Warm and Well supports anyone in Midlothian whose health may be affected by living in a cold, damp or draughty home. Older people, young families and people with health difficulties are particularly vulnerable, so we work with health and social work professionals, amongst others. We provide tailored advice on affordable warmth through home visits, talks and events. VOCAL are offering free 45 minute appointment within the carers centre, through Changeworks for Energy Advice Surgeries once a month. Carers can book by email on Midlothian@vocal.org.uk or on 0131 663 6869.
3) The Scottish Government says: &A person is living in fuel poverty if, to heat their home to a satisfactory standard, they need to spend more than 10 per cent of their household income on fuel.&
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/what-we-do/energy-and-fuel-poverty/fuel-poverty-services/refer-clients-to-fuel-poverty-services
or call 0800 512 012 and ask for the Affordable Warmth Outreach Team.
For winter 2018 to 2019, you could get £133 off your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money isn’t paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, usually between September and March.
The discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
Pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters
You can also qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, eg a voucher you can use to top up your meter.
You qualify for the discount if on 12 July 2018 all of the following apply:
Your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
Your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
You were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well)
If you don’t qualify
You may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you don’t get the Guarantee
Credit element of Pension Credit but:
You’re on a low income
You get certain means-tested benefits
Check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible and how to apply.
Electricity suppliers. The following suppliers are part of the scheme:
- Atlantic 0800 300 111
- British Gas 0800 072 8625 www.britishgas.co.uk/energy/energy-saving/warm-home-discount.html
- Co-operative energy 0800 954 0693 www.cooperativeenergy.coop/warm-home-discount-eligibility/ have an online tool to check eligibility.
- EDF Energy 0800 072 8625 www.edfenergy.com/for-home/help-support/warm-home-discount
- E.ON 0843 506 9877 www.eonenergy.com/for-your-home/saving-energy/need-little-extra-help/warm-home-discount/warm-home-discount-form
- Equipower (Ebico) 0800 458 7689
- Equigas (Ebico) 0800 458 7689
- First Utility: Online only firstutilitywarmhomediscount.com/
- Manweb - see ScottishPower 0800 027 0072
- M&S Energy 0800 294 3263
- npower 0808 172 6999 customerservices.npower.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/490
- OVO: Only online ovowarmhomediscount.com/
- Sainsbury’s Energy - see British Gas
- Scottish Gas - see British Gas
- Scottish Hydro: 0800 300 111
- ScottishPower: 0800 027 0072 www.scottishpower.co.uk/customer-services/support/warm-home-discount/
- Southern Electric: 0800 300 111
- SSE: 0800 300 111 www.sse.co.uk/help/accessibility/warm-home-discount#item1
- SWALEC: 0800 300 111
- Utilita: 03452 072 000
- Utility Warehouse: Online only www.utilitywarehouse.co.uk/clubhouse/warmhome
How to claim
If you qualify for the discount, you’ll get a letter this autumn or winter telling you either:
- You don’t have to apply - you’ll get the discount automatically
- To apply by 28th February 2019 - the letter will tell you why and how
You’ll receive your letter by 24 December at the latest.
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/200270/severe_
The streets affected so far by the traffic regulations are:
- Woodburn Park : Outside numbers 1,3,5,7. Also 35,37,39,41.
- Salters’ Road: Outside numbers 17.19.21.
- Woodburn Road: Outside Numbers 24,26,28, 30,32. Also 64,66,68
- James Lean Avenue: Outside Numbers 1,3,5,7. Also 33,35,37,39. Also 45,47. Also 75,77,79,81.
- Woodburn Avenue: Outside Numbers 1,3,5.
- Eskbank Road: Outside the Kings Park.
- Fountain Place: West side of Fountain place from No. 1 to No. 27
- Powdermill Brae: Top bus stop on Powdermill brae Outside 47, 49.
- Polton Road West: Opposite entrance to Cameron Crescent and Gordon Avenue, Also Outside Number 66,64,62,60.
- Lothian Street: Both sides between Bonnyrigg High street Traffic control and Waverley Crescent.
- Dundas Street: Both sides between Bonnyrigg High street Traffic control and Cockpen Road Roundabout.
- Polton Avenue Road: Opposite entrance to Polton Hall Sports complex, Outside Numbers 6A,6B, 6C, 6D. Also 20,21,22,23. Outside Hawthornden Primary School, Opposite entrance to Argyll Place.
- Carnethie Street: Outside Numbers 49, 51, 53. Also 73,77,79. Also 103,105,107. Also 137,19,141 also in the bus terminus in Rosewell.
Police have powers to remove vehicles parked on the coned areas. Please, do not park you cars on these roads when the weather the snows arrive. Lothian Buses website: lothianbuses.com Twitter: twitter.com/on_lothianbuses
(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!)
Getting winter ready 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.
Clearing snow from a vehicle, clean the snow from the roof as well as the windscreens and also make sure your number plate is visible both front and rear,
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).
Midlothian Council: Website: www.midlothian.gov.uk/
Midlothian Voluntary Action
Other Essential Contacts
For all other essential contact details see the Ready Scotland Facebook: www.facebook.com/ReadyScotland
All Scotland [inc buses, trams and trains] - Traveline Scotland on www.travelinescotland.com
There are multiple free Wifi hotspots around Midlothian, Most Cafes, some public houses and all Libraries, sign up to as many as you can so you can get access to the information while you are out and about.
When it snows the demand for taxis increases dramatically so the wait for one will also increase, please remember the taxi driver also has to drive according to weather conditions.
Where you can go for help with your health
We know that it can be frustrating if there is a long wait to see your doctor. However your GP is not always the best person to see.Think about what your health problem is before you phone your GP and try one of these alternatives:
Nurses are experienced in dealing with many conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes and a range of minor illnesses such as chest, urine and ear infections and skin conditions. Many can prescribe medication and arrange investigations. Nurse appointments are often easier to get than a doctor’s.
You can get free advice for minor illnesses such as flu, sore ears and throats, acne, constipation, eczema and allergies, hayfever, indigestion, mouth ulcers, warts and stopping smoking. You may also be able to register for free treatment – ask your pharmacist if you qualify. You can also see your pharmacist in private.
For muscle and joint problems such as back pain, neck pain, shoulder problems, knee, hip or foot pain you can get advice and, if necessary, an appointment to see a physiotherapist by appointment Tel: 0800 917 9390, 9am - 6pm Monday to Friday.
GP PHONE APPOINTMENT
If you don’t need to be examined then a phone appointment is often quicker and easier. If the doctor feels they need to see you they will arrange it.
If you have a problem with your teeth, gums or tongue Tel: 0131 537 8444 to find a dentist.
For advice and non-urgent treatment for a baby or child.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
For depression, anxiety or other mental health problems, Midspace is a website which can direct you to local services – www.midspace.co.uk . Midlothian Wellbeing Access Point is an open-access service for those who don’t need medication or urgent treatment but might benefit from talking therapies or other support – Tel: 0131 536 8981 to find out when and where the service operates. Breathingspace can help if you need to talk to someone – 0800 83 85 87 or www.breathingspace.scot and the Samaritans are on Tel: 116 123
ALCOHOL AND DRUG PROBLEMS
For advice and support go to the Gateway to Recovery clinic. For more information Tel: 0131 660 6822 or go to www.meldap.co.uk
If you have a problem with your eyes, make an appointment at any high street optician.
If you are a carer contact VOCAL on Tel: 0131 663 6869 or go to www.vocal.org.uk for information and advice. VOCAL carers centre Christmas opening times, close 4 pm on Friday 22nd December and reopen 9 am on 3rd January 2018, telephone support available 10 am – 4 pm 27th December.
AND DON’T FORGET.....
If you can’t make your GP appointment please phone and cancel. Around 4% of appointments are wasted as people do not turn up. This equates to hundreds of missed appointments across Midlothian each month! Only ask for a home visit if it is absolutely necessary and you are housebound.
What is a restricted list? and what does this mean.
GPs who are working at full capacity are temporarily unable to take on more new patients except under very specific arrangements. This is to ensure the safe and effective care of their existing patients.
Who is affected by these restrictions?
If you are already registered with a practice you will continue to receive a normal service. All new babies, and other family members who move in with you, will be able to register with the same practice as you. The restrictions only affect people who move into the area or want to change their practice for another reason.
What do I do if the practice that I want to join has a restricted list?
If your local GP practice has a restricted list you should approach a different practice in the local area that covers your address. If there are no other practices accepting new patients and you cannot find a GP you can collect an assignment form from one of the practices and send it to our partner organisation ‘Practitioner Services’ who will allocate you to a GP practice in the local area.
Their address is: NHS NSS Practitioner Services - Medical, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB. Alternatively you can phone them to request an assignment form on Tel: 0131 275 7038.
No one should be unable to register with a GP practice – everyone will be supported to have access to a GP.
NHS 24 can provide you with health information and self-care advice. Call 111 twenty-four hours a day.
NHS Inform Tel: 0800 22 44 88 or www.nhsinform.co.uk provides comprehensive health information
Councillor John Hackett, Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Commercial Operations, which includes roads, said:
“We’re hoping we don’t have a repeat of the ‘Beast from the East’ but we need to be prepared. During the heavy snow a few months ago, we were blown away by the fantastic response of local residents. People realise that in severe weather we all need to pull together. Local people, who were able, were clearing areas outside their homes and checking on vulnerable neighbours. We had teams of parents helping us clear playgrounds to get schools open as soon as possible.
“For the council, the focus is on keeping the 380 kilometres priority roads such as bus routes and those near hospitals and schools open throughout winter. Council staff will also be on hand to clear obstructions such as fallen branches and any other debris caused by adverse weather.”
There are currently more than 460 grit bins placed throughout Midlothian for public use. Residents are asked to use the grit for footpaths and roads rather than private driveways.
If adverse weather leads to the closure of a school, nursery or public building then Midlothian Council will ensure all residents are informed as soon as possible, via its website, radio and social media, allowing everyone to plan ahead accordingly.
For more information, including gritting routes, visit www.midlothian.gov.uk/severe-weather. For latest updates follow the council on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MidlothianCouncil and on Twitter at twitter.com/midhelp
SP Energy Networks manage the electricity network in Midlothian so if you have a power cut it’s there engineers who attend to make repairs and they want to make sure that in the unusual event of a power cut that you are well supported.
They can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on either our Freephone number 0800 0929290 or on the new single emergency number of 105. This new number is free from all landlines and mobiles and will connect you to the correct network operator for your property, no matter who you pay your bills to.
If your electricity goes off unexpectedly there are a few checks that it’s useful to do if you can, before you call us.Have your neighbours lost their supply? Are the streetlights out?
If not the problem could be with your electrical installation. So check your trips switches first of all, as it may be an internal fault. If it has operated, switch off all of your appliances and reset the switch.
If electricity is crucial to your health (for instance if you use medical equipment at home) or if you are over 60, ask to be included on the Priority Services Register. You can do this via online at >www.spenergynetworks.co.uk/priorityservices by phone 0330 10 10 444 or by email to email@example.com or by text to 61999.
SP Energy Networks on 0330 1010 154 can offer free & impartial energy efficiency advice and access to grants where available.
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.
A message from Police Scotland
With winter approaching are you prepared for challenging driving conditions?
- Ensure you check the weather forecast prior to any journey.
- Check windscreen wiper fluid is topped up, your tyre tread is correct for driving and tyres are correctly inflated.
- Always clear any snow or ice from the windscreen and the rest of the vehicle prior to any journey.
- Consider packing a shovel, bottled water and blanket into the boot should you become stranded.
- If you have a mobile phone ensure it is fully charged, and make someone aware of your in tended journey, as well as when you leave and arrive at your destination.
- If in doubt consider rescheduling any journey or travel plans if the weather is poor.
Home Security:As winter draws closer and the nights get darker remember to review your home security:
- Use timer switches on lights and radios to make it look as though your home is occupied.
- Ensure all your windows and doors are secure before going to bed.
- If possible use security lighting at the front and back of your property.
- Make sure all garden tools and ladders not being used are locked away and secure.
- Use a good quality lock on any garden sheds or out buildings.
- Make a note of all makes and serial numbers of your property.
Anyone can be the victim of doorstop crime and cold callers to their property. Be aware of the following when answering your door:
- If in doubt; keep them out
- Keep front and back doors locked
- Use a door chain or bar
- Only let callers in if they have an appointment and you have confirmed they are genuine
- Always ask for ID
- Don’t keep large sums of money at home
- Ensure your doors and windows are locked
- Look out for those in your community
- Report any suspicious, Call 999 and ask for the police if you feel scared or threatened.
Emergency Telephone list:
Non Emergency Police
0131 270 7500/ 663 7211
Midlothian Social Work Services
0131 271 3900
National Gas Emergency Service (if you smell gas)
0800 111 999
Scottish Power Energy Networks
0800 092 92 90/ 105
0845 601 8855
Extreme severe weather, for vulnerable people
0131 271 3233
Midlothian Council Housing repairs
0131 663 7211
Midcare (Telecare) Midlothian
0131 271 3900
Carers VOCAL Midlothian
0131 663 6869
Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living
0131 475 2350
British Red Cross
0131 654 0340
Midlothian Community Hospital
0131 454 1001
Midlothian Council – Housing Benefits
0131 271 3201
Midlothian Council – Direct Payments
0131 271 3900
0131 561 5284
0845 130 2322
0131 554 4494
0871 200 2233
0131 447 1718
0131 447 9949
Citizens Advice Bureau Dalkeith
0131 660 1636
Citizens Advice Bureau Penicuik
01968 675 259
My emergency contact
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.
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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