- Always drive to the conditions – slow right down and brake gently when road surfaces may have less grip.
- Leave plenty of extra time to make your journey – ‘drive to arrive’ and don’t take unnecessary risks.
- Make sure you allow time to clear your car of any snow before setting off, and remove ice from your windscreen and windows – don’t make travelling more treacherous by not having a good range of visibility or by snow sliding off your car onto the road and causing a hazard for other road users.
- People may want to plan their route to avoid any steep hills in snowy or icy conditions – rear wheel drive cars in particular can struggle with traction when driving uphill.
- If you skid on ice or snow, don’t brake and steer into the direction that the rear of your car is sliding.
- Most pavements and cycle paths in Norfolk are not gritted as standard (although there are 1,800 grit bins throughout the county stocked with salt for people to use on public spaces), so sometimes road surfaces may have more grip. Pedestrians and cyclists should also allow extra time for making journeys and wear shoes or boots with a thick tread.
People are also being asked to help each other by getting behind the County Council’s Norfolk Winter campaign, designed to help people in the county cope during the colder months. Regular gritting updates and other useful advice are posted on social media channels, using the #norfolkwinter hashtag on Twitter and on the Norfolk Facebook page (www.facebook.com/norfolkcc). Everyone in Norfolk is encouraged to share any information that may help keep people in the county safe when the weather is cold, icy or snowy.
Older people, very young children, pregnant women, those with long-term health conditions and people who live in poor quality housing or are homeless are particularly vulnerable during cold weather. While low temperatures themselves don’t usually directly make people ill, they can contribute to conditions that lead to illnesses including stroke and heart attack. Flu viruses are also more stable in cold air, making it easier for them to spread and leading to more cases of flu during the winter, which can be life-threatening to some vulnerable people.
Steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of older or vulnerable people falling ill include:
- Ensuring their home is well-heated and insulated – living in cold, damp or mouldy rooms can affect your health. Heat your home, or at the very least the rooms you use regularly, to between 18 and 21°C.
- Making sure they’re dressing appropriately for the cold, wearing layers, moving around regularly if possible and eating hot meals and drinking hot drinks.
- Checking that tasks like picking up prescriptions and buying food aren’t going undone because wintry weather is making it difficult for them to get out and about, and offer what support you can.
- Reducing their chance of falling over and resulting injury by strengthening muscles through exercise (a programme of sitting exercises can be found on the NHS website) and by having well-fitting footwear with good grip on the sole – in both shoes and slippers.
- Encouraging them to get the free flu jab if they are eligible for it – everyone aged 65 and over is offered the flu jab for free on the NHS, as are other ‘at risk’ groups.
For more information about keeping in good health during cold weather, visit http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/staywellthiswinter. Information on gritting, including a map of gritting routes and grit bin locations, can be found at http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/gritting. For the latest weather warnings covering Norfolk, visit http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings.