Hampshire County Council ready for snow and freezing conditions
Thursday, 17 January 2013
With a forecast for possible heavy snow on Friday (18 January 2013), Hampshire County Council is ready to keep Hampshire moving and help residents in need - particularly older people and others who may be vulnerable.
The County Council's salt barns are full with enough salt for 15 days of continuous, round-the-clock salting. 3,000 community salt bins have salt for people to spread on public roads and pavements and around 100 farmers are on standby to assist with clearing roads of snow using snow ploughs if needed. As always during the winter season, salting lorries are ready to salt Priority 1 routes - roads that carry 85% of the county's traffic - when temperatures are set to fall to zero or below. Other routes, including community routes to local primary schools, doctors surgeries and local shops will also be treated.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: "The forecasts we receive indicate that it will snow in Hampshire from approximately 4am and that it is likely to be persistent, with five to ten centimetres settling across the county, although to a lesser extent in coastal areas. We will be salting the Priority 1 routes round the clock from late morning through to the start of the snow fall. In order to ensure teachers and pupils can get to school and people can still make essential appointments, such as with their doctor, we have already salted community routes this morning and will do so again in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
"I would ask people to do their bit to help, by using the salt in the community salt bins, to treat public roads and pavements near to where they live."
People are being warned that the ground is still saturated due to the significant amount of rain we have had during the winter season so far. Water run-off from fields and high ground has the potential to wash away the salt being spread by the salting lorries, so it is possible that rural roads could ice over when the temperatures drop. To minimise this, salt wicks (porous bags filled with salt) have been placed at known locations along the highway to maintain a salinity level in the flowing water to try and help prevent it from freezing on the road surface.
Councillor Kendal, added: "If you have to travel, please follow advice on driving safely and check your local radio for news about the situation regarding public transport and traffic on the roads. Tread carefully if you are walking as it is likely to be slippery underfoot and cyclists are also asked to take extra care. It is advisable to leave extra time for your journey, if it cannot be postponed, and to ensure you're prepared with warm clothing, a warm drink and snacks, a charged mobile phone - with your breakdown emergency number in your contacts - and plenty of fuel."
During severe weather events, the County Council's Emergency Planning Unit coordinates the Council's response, working closely around the clock with the emergency services, district councils and other partners such as the Environment Agency to coordinate multi-agency efforts and ensure communities are able to access the support they need to help themselves, whether it is setting up a rest centre or targeted support for the most vulnerable. This includes calling on over a hundred 4x4 volunteer drivers, who have been recruited by the Police and trained by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, to be ready to transport key staff and resources to wherever they are needed whether that means getting them to hospital, the workplace to keep vital services running, or helping to deliver meals on wheels.
The County Council is also asking people to keep a neighbourly eye on older and vulnerable residents living near to them. This is especially important in rural communities where not everyone has access to mains gas and communications can be affected. Any concerns about a neighbour can be reported by calling 0845 603 5630.
Cold weather not only makes life uncomfortable but can lead to serious health problems including asthma, depression, heart disease and strokes. People who are struggling to keep warm or to pay their bills can get immediate and practical help and advice by calling the 'Hitting the Colds Spots' freephone advice line (0800 804 8601).
If a head teacher has taken the decision to close their school for any reason, including bad weather, the information will be available online so parents, with school age children, can check if their school is open as usual, by looking at the school closures page on the County Council's website."