Snow brings area to a standstill

By IH Thursday 17 January 2013 Updated: 23/01 09:14

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SNOW has brought Warwickshire to a standstill.

Roads were treacherous and most schools in the county closed. Forecasters were predicting it could be the heaviest snowfall since December 1990 - when the country ground to a halt and thousands were left without power.

Met Office predictions were for five to 10cm, and an amber alert has been issued for between 4am and 6pm on Friday amid freezing temperatures and high winds.

Temperatures have already plummeted below zero and could fall as low as -10C next week.

On Monday, the county was given a warning of what could come when light snow fell in the morning but no schools were closed and it turned to rain later in the afternoon.

A Met Office statement said: "As the weather breaks down, an area of snow looks increasingly likely to spread from the southwest.

"Winds will strengthen and blizzard conditions are likely, especially over high ground.

"Clearly there is the potential for some severe disruption, and the public are advised to watch for updates to this warning and to be prepared to alter travel plans."

West Midlands Ambulance Service is urging the public to take some simple precautions.

A spokeswoman said: “There are simple steps that the public can take to help them stay safe during this wintery weather. Make sure you wrap up warm and wear sensible footwear, helping to avoid slips, trips and falls.

“If the weather does take a turn for the worse, please avoid or delay any unneccesary journeys. If you really need to travel by road, make sure you allow extra time for your journey and be extra vigilant on icy and snow covered roads.

“Motorists should consider carrying a few essentials with them in the winter months in case of a breakdown or delay such as an ice-scraper, torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, a first aid kit, battery jump leads, a snow shovel and food and drink. If you’re heading off on a long journey, make sure your mobile phone is also fully charged.

“No-one wants to be a misery but although snow and ice can be a huge amount of fun, it can also be quite dangerous. Every winter we’re called to people who have become injured whilst sledging. We would encourage people to just take a second to think about where they are sledging and to have fun safely. Clearly playing on frozen lakes and canals can also have tragic consequences if people fall on or through the ice.

“People with existing medical conditions that can be aggravated by cold weather should stay warm and be prepared by making sure they have all their medications, saving any avoidable journeys.

“We also appeal for people to be aware of those who are elderly, frail or in some way vulnerable to this type of weather, be it friends, neighbours or relatives. Why not show some community spirit and ensure that people in these categories do not have to go out and risk hurting themselves by getting in any essential supplies that they might need?

“The ambulance service historically experiences some of its busiest periods during winter and the public are asked to think before dialing 999. Is your call really a serious life threatening emergency that requires an immediate 999 medical response? Ambulance crews have to use the same snow and ice covered roads to get to emergencies as everyone else and therefore may take longer to get to patient safely in such challenging conditions.

“If you do need medical treatment but your condition is not life threatening, please consider using parts of the NHS other than A&E and the 999 service. Advice and treatment can be sought from pharmacists, GPs, walk in centres, minor injuries units and NHS Direct via 0845 46 47 or on-line at www.nhs.uk.”

Warwickshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service are urging drivers to think safety first before heading out on to icy roads.

Community Safety and Youth Development Manager, Moreno Francioso said: “All we want is for people to arrive at their destinations safely, so please think about your journey before you start out, ensure you are prepared and stay informed by regularly checking the weather forecasts.”

To help keep safe on the road’s Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service offer the following advice:

· Keep a regular check on weather forecasts and travel information, and avoid unnecessary journeys if the roads are known to be icy.

· Let someone know where you are going and what time you hope to arrive, so that they can raise the alarm if you get into difficulties.

· Plan alternative routes in case your main choice(s) becomes impassable.

· Keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out.

· Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone, so you can call for help or alert someone if you're delayed · Ensure your windows, mirrors and lights are free from ice before starting your journey.

· Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained and serviced, ready for winter.

For more information on driving safely, log onto http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/roadsafetyadvice

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