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.


Clearing the way for a better winter

A kind donation of 100 snow shovels from the Wilkinson store in Livingston was gratefully received by staff and volunteers at the Food Train West Lothian last week.

Wilkinson Livingston initially contacted Age Scotland’s fundraising department to make the generous offer, which they wanted to donate to benefit older people in the Livingston area of West Lothian. Alison Payne, one of Age Scotland’s fundraising officers, made immediate contact with local Development Officer, Laura Dunkel, to get some help with finding a member group who could make use of the shovels.

Wilkinson Livingston donate snow shovels

Martin (Age Scotland), Lorraine Thomson (Manager, Wilkinson Livingston Store), David Stewart (Wilkinson Livingston Store), Linda Lockie (Regional Manager, The Food Train) and the two volunteers from the Food Train.

Laura said: ‘I thought of the Food Train immediately when I heard about this donation from Wilkinson Livingston. The Food Train provide a really valuable service in West Lothian – they deliver groceries to older people to help them to remain independent in their own home. This service is even more valuable during the cold winter months, when older people can be anxious about the risk of falling in snowy or icy conditions.’

Linda Lockie, Regional Manager at the Food Train said: ‘We’re just about to celebrate our third birthday so the shovels are like an early birthday present to us! The service has gone from strength to strength over the last 3 years, and has proved hugely popular, we now have over 160 members across the region, and over 45 volunteers. These shovels will mean our volunteers will be able to get out and about to our members even if we do get snow this winter. We also plan to offer shovels to our members so that friends, neighbours and family members can use them to clear paths and driveways for them. Winter can be a time when older people feel more lonely and isolated and our volunteers bring not only groceries but increased social contact to the most vulnerable and frail customer.’

The Food Train always welcome any new enquiries from people interested in donating their time to assist in their local community, by becoming volunteer drivers, helpers, shoppers and Extra Service volunteers.

If you would like to volunteer or know of an older people who might benefit from the Food Train’s service, more information can be found by calling 01506 413013 or visiting

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.