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Top tips for preparing for a big chill and staying safe at home

Jason Petsch, commercial director of GRITIT, the UK’s leading provider of winter gritting and maintenance services, comments: “There is no reason for a repeat of these events; many of the solutions are in our own hands. As a nation, we need to toughen up and take more responsibility – common sense can make rough winters easier.

“This year, there are signs that the UK is going to be much better prepared. People should acknowledge the real progress made by local authorities in winter readiness and engage with the services on offer. But I’d urge householders to take personal responsibility too. In our business, we work with organisations which plan months in advance to stay open over winter – there’s no reason for individuals not to be equally proactive.”

GRITIT, has issued simple no-nonsense advice to help prepare our homes and cars for safer winters.

Advice for Home Owners

1. Talk to your local authority

Contact or check the website of your local council to find out what the local provisions will be for your street and neighbourhood. Understand if your street will be cleared and gritted and plan routes to work or schools accordingly. Also ask about where grit bins will be located in your area.

2. Clearing pavements? Follow the Snow Code

People have worried if it’s safe to help to clear streets and pavements. Last year the Government sought to reassure people that they could take matters into their own hands without fear of being sued, issuing a Snow Code that advises how to clear snow and ice safely. Here’s a link to the code on the DirectGov site – http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_191868.

With snow, step one is always to clear snow away before applying grit. When gritting, its vital to get the quantity of grit right – too little won’t work effectively and too much will cost you in wasted salt (the Snow Code suggests quantities). Be very careful around the edge of paths not to scatter grit on lawns or flowerbeds to avoid damaging plants!

3. Prepare your home

One of the great tragedies is that it extreme weather can be killer. According to the BBC, an ‘estimated 27,000 extra people die every winter – a fifth more than during the summer.’

Rising fuel prices don’t help, but while the UK has one of the highest rates of deaths due to cold weather, we also pay less for fuel than many other countries. A big challenge is that – unlike a country like Sweden – our houses aren’t built for cold weather. Despite this, there is a lot that can be achieved through better insulation.

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