Be prepared during freezing conditions

Photo of a gritter at a gritting depot

Posted on: 26 February 2018

Be prepared is the message from Devon County Council as the county prepares for freezing conditions and the possibility of snow later this week.

  • Live updates on road conditions are available via the @DevonAlert Twitter account
  • Avoid unnecessary journeys. Our winter travel advice provides information for safe driving
  • Check out any school closures and sign up for alerts for any school by clicking on ‘Alert Me’
  • If you have vulnerable or elderly neighbours, think about how they could possibly be helped through the cold spell – NHS Choices has more information on staying healthy during cold weather

Devon’s fleet of gritters treated around 2,000 miles of Devon’s primary and secondary salting routes yesterday (Sunday 25 February), and Devon’s snow warden volunteers have also been advised to be ready to salt their priority local routes and to keep an eye on weather forecasts.

Road surface temperatures will drop below freezing across the county this evening, falling lower than -6C on higher ground of Dartmoor and the Blackdown Hills.

Gritters will again be treating all main routes across the county this afternoon and will continue to monitor after that, as the sub-zero road temperatures are expected to last until 8am or 9am tomorrow morning.

The County Council has used around 11,500 tonnes of salt on its roads so far this winter. Last winter, 9,000 tonnes was used throughout the whole season.

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We are as prepared as we can be for what could be a prolonged cold spell from Storm Emma. We’ve been fortunate so far that it has remained dry during the current cold weather, but that may well change with the potential for snow and wintry showers being forecast later this week.

“Our gritting teams often have to face severe conditions but they are always committed to doing their utmost to keep Devon’s roads as safe and clear as possible. However, please remember that ice can form even on treated roads so I would urge road users to take extreme care, and pedestrians should also take care on pavements.”

Highways England Network Operations Manager Rob Llewellyn said: “Highways England is working closely with Devon County Council and Devon and Cornwall Police to ensure everything possible is being done to prepare for severe weather. Our gritters are out treating our routes around the clock but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow is forecast and we advise drivers to check the latest weather and traffic reports before setting out and decide if their journey is absolutely necessary if conditions worsen.”

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: “Motorists across Devon and Cornwall are urged to take extra care in the weather conditions which are expected later this week. We would advise the public to slow down, keep your distance and keep an eye on weather reports ahead of any travel plans. If you have to travel, carry additional warm clothing/footwear, food, drink, a charged mobile phone, and ensure your vehicle has a full tank of fuel, and all fluids are topped up.”

Communities are also reminded to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses to make sure they are safe, warm and well.

Heating your home to at least 18C is particularly important for people with reduced mobility, people who are 65 and over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease. People are also advised to keep bedroom windows closed on a winter’s night as breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.

The County Council is reminding people of the following advice:

• Avoid overnight travel unless absolutely essential as roads will always be more hazardous at night with less traffic and colder temperatures;
• Never assume a road has been salted. Remember that showers or rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice, and in extreme cold even salting will not stop ice from forming;
• Allow additional time for your journey and reduce your speed;
• Drive with care and according to the conditions;
• If you have vulnerable or elderly neighbours, think about how they could possibly be helped through the cold spell;
• Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long-term illness or are 65 or over;
• Listen to local radio for updates on current weather conditions and ensure you are stocked with food and medications.

To find out more about the Snow Warden scheme go to https://www.devon.gov.uk/communities/opportunities/snow-warden-scheme
or contact Parish Council representatives who can liaise with their local Neighbourhood Highway Officer.

For more information and travel advice from Devon County Council visit: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert

Posted in: Environment