After a relatively calm beginning to 2012, it appears the winter weather will finally arrive in the days ahead. The cold front coming in from the east will not only bring a chill to your bones, it will also lead to an increased risk of accidents for homeowners and drivers. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe in the days ahead:
The biggest risk for homeowners is the risk of pipes freezing and bursting. Burst pipes can cause serious flood damage. Keeping your pipes warm is the best protection against this. Lagging outdoor pipes is a cost effective and easy thing to do. But while insulation, both indoor and outdoor, will help, it is not guaranteed to stop the cold damaging your home. It is important to get the pipes heated up throughout the day. If your house is going to be unoccupied for a period of time, have your central heating on a timer, to insure that the pipes come on for part of the day. Make sure that you have an adequate supply of fuel in your tank. If a pipe does burst, turn off the water supply as well as all water dependent appliances, such as your boiler. If you have an accident, call your insurance company immediately. The quicker we know about the problem, the quicker that we can solve it for you.
Burst pipes are not the only danger heavy snow may be less likely than in recent years; however it is important to remember that when it happens it brings dangers with it. If driveways are covered in snow or ice, they should be cleared and gritted to avoid nasty falls. Allowing snow to build up on roofs can also damage your house. Heavy snow falls in recent years have damaged many buildings with flat roofs. If snow builds up it should be cleared. Clearing snow off the roof is dangerous and should not be tried without the proper equipment and only if the roof can be accessed safely.
Drivers also need to pay special attention in the days ahead, because snow and heavy frost are still relatively rare in Ireland, we are not used to driving in these wintry conditions. Drive carefully and leave longer than usual gaps between you and the car in front. Carry a blanket in the car and pack food and hot drinks if you are going on longer journeys. If you are on prescribed medication make sure and keep it with you. Always carry a mobile phone if you are driving at night or in extreme weather conditions so that you can call for help if needed.
Remember staying safe is largely down to common sense and simple steps can make all the difference. Check out our Weathersense section on our website for some more tips on protecting yourself and your home in the coming cold snap.