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Oct 24 2011

Get ready for winter

We saw the first frost of Winter early last week, which should serve as a reminder that we should start preparing for winter. There are many things that each and every householder can start doing now, to minimise the chances of disruption should we experience a prolonged cold spell, or even worse, heavy snow over a number of days.

Scottish Water has put together some sensible advice on preparing your house for winter, most of which centre around insulation: of pipes, lofts, water tanks, etc. However, there are a number of additional steps you can take now to make sure you’re well looked after:

  • Make sure that you leave your heating on low if you’re going away. This means around 7-10 degrees, so that your house won’t fall below freezing. A house getting too cold will lead to burst pipes as the water freezes and expands, and then to leaks and floods when it thaws.
  • Check that any water tanks in the loft are insulated. Proper insulating jackets are best, but even an old duvet or blankets are better than nothing – and make sure there is no loft insulation underneath the tanks: the heat from the house below will help to keep the tank from freezing.
  • Make sure you have the number of a local recommended plumber. If it’s very bad weather, your normal plumber may have difficulty getting out, so finding someone local is important. Just in case…
  • Know where the mains water stop tap is, in case there is a leak. Now would be a good time to make sure you can find it, and can turn it: these often sieze up from lack of use, and might need some ‘encouragement’ from a strong neighbour to open and close them a few times.
  • If you don’t have draught-excluders on any draughty doors, now would be a good time to get them. A good standby is a rolled up blanket at the bottom of the door.
  • If you have financial problems, and worry about paying your gas or electric bill: don’t. All the energy providers will be happy to help wherever they can with flexible payment terms. Talk to them now if you think this problem might affect you.

On a more practical note, it’s worth while making sure you’re stocked up with a few days of tinned meals: soups, stews, etc, that will have a long shelf life. Think about powdered milk as well. If you’ve got a freezer, store some bread in there, separated into two-slice bundles for easy defrosting.  Have you got candles and matches? And if you do use candles, be very careful where you place them, keep them away from children, and never leave them unattended.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask a neighbour for help. And, if you live nearby to someone elderly, frail, in ill-health, check up on them every day or so to see if they’re okay or whether they need anything.

Harrow Council’s meals on wheels service will run as best a service as it can during the snow, but clearly, prolonged and significant snowfall may impact that. Harrow do have a ploughing and gritting strategy, focussed around main transport routes, school, ambulance, fire and police stations, etc, but residential roads come right down the bottom of the list.

 

 

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