Preparing for cold weather

Cold weather alerts are issued by the Met Office when the winter weather is most likely to significantly impact people’s health. The Met Office’s cold weather alerts are a way of warning about cold weather conditions in advance – so you can take extra precautions to keep safe and well.

Make sure you’re prepared with these simple steps

1. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. It’s good to know what to expect so you can plan ahead.

2. If bad weather is forecast, make sure you have everything you need. Order any repeat prescriptions in plenty of time and check you’ve got enough medication. Stock up on food to keep in the cupboards or freezer in case the weather makes it harder to leave the house.

3. Take extra care if the ground is slippery. Wear shoes with good grip and consider keeping salt and sand mixture handy to grit paths. You could always ask your neighbours for help to clear paths or driveways clear in bad weather – the vast majority of people are more than happy to help.

4. Try to avoid driving in bad weather if at all possible, and make sure you follow advice on driving conditions near you. If you do need to go out, make sure you keep blankets, some snacks, water and a shovel in the car in case you get stuck. Make sure these are easy for you to access – supplies aren’t much use if they are in the boot and you can’t get to them!

5. Cold weather can sometimes result in power cuts. Have a torch at home in case of a power cut (and don’t forget to check the batteries!) It’s also worth making sure any mobile phones, laptops or tablets are fully charged. You should report a power cut by calling 105.

For more information about keeping well in the Winter months, view our Warm and Well guide.


Who’s going to help me when the snow comes?

Should the snow come, how ready will Scotland’s Councils be to look after vulnerable older people asks Doug Anthoney, as Age Scotland calls on the public to join its Winter Weather Watch.


Last December Age Scotland submitted a Freedom of Information request to each of Scotland’s 32 Councils. We asked them what they were doing to ensure that vulnerable older people were not cut off from the community and from vital public services in severe winter weather. There were some interesting findings.

We learned that while every Council in Scotland has a winter weather plan, less than half had a dedicated older people’s isolation and support strategy. When it came to publicising winter weather provision, some just put information on their website, whereas others used road shows and got word out through elected members and Community Councils. From salt and grit distribution, to partnership with voluntary organisations, the story is similarly mixed.

We’ve used this information to prepare good practice recommendations that we want Councils to sign up to. All should:

  • Have a plan for identifying vulnerable older people and meeting their needs
  • Take action to ensure older people and their families are aware of the plan and how to register for assistance
  • Partner with appropriate voluntary organisations for improved weather emergency response
  • Prioritise locations with a high proportion of older people for salt and grit
  • Review their plans annually to check that they work.

We would also like members of the public local older people’s to join our Winter Weather Watch; to keep an eye on their Council’s response to severe weather, and to tell us how well this meets the needs of older people. Signing up is easy and can be done online. We’ll note your details and contact you in spring 2013 to ask about your winter experiences, or possibly sooner if there is a particularly severe weather incident affecting your area.