People asked to be vigilant during cold weather conditions

The weather is set to get colder from Tuesday

People asked to be vigilant during cold weather conditions

File photo from 2010 shows heavy snow falls on Liffey Street in Dublin | Image: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated: 18.20

As the cold weather takes hold, people are being asked to be vigilant at home and on the roads.

Snow and ice warnings are in place for the country, and are expected to worsen as the week goes on.

Everyone, especially older or more vulnerable people, should remember to take extra care.

Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring is reminding people of the need to look out for older and more vulnerable members of their community during the cold snap.

Minister Ring says: "All indications are that we are facing into a period of extreme weather. Older people and those living alone are often most vulnerable to these cold snaps.

"It's important to look out for older people not only in isolated rural areas but also in built up urban areas.

"I urge people throughout the country to check in on your neighbours by phone or, if possible, in person. It is particularly important to check if people have enough food, fuel and medication.

"Bad weather can make it challenging and indeed risky for older people to get out for provisions so it really helps to do a run to the shops for them.

"I also urge older people that have personalised alarms to ensure they are wearing them at all times so that people can be alerted if anyone gets into trouble."

Last year Minister Ring’s department allocated €2.7m for the Seniors Alert Scheme, which provides personalised alarms to people aged over-65.

Over 10,000 alarms have been installed since the launch of the scheme in October.

The elderly

Elderly people should not venture outdoors in severe weather if possible.

The public are asked to make a special effort to keep in contact with their neighbours and relatives, particularly those living alone.

Remember to keep warm, eat well and avoid unnecessary travel.

People are asked to call in on elderly relatives and neighbours, and make sure they have enough food or any prescription drugs they may need.

As well as ensuring they have sufficient fuel supplies to maintain adequate heating in their homes.

Minister for the Elderly, Jim Daly, is urging pensioners to "take care and light the fire up early during the current big freeze".

On cost concerns, Mr Daly says there are a range of welfare schemes available which ensures pensioners can stock up on fuel before the cold snap fully bites.

Mr Daly says: "Fuel and heat are always concerns for the elderly, particularly when it comes to cost.

"The uniquely cold weather conditions over the coming days mean the elderly should not stint on fuel use.

"Shivering behind a single electric bar will be penny wise and pound foolish. When it comes to weather such as this thrift is not an option..

"Pensioners who live at home should keep the heat going for twenty-four hours

"Put your health and safety first - a warm fire or a hot radiator is a basic entitlement

"Extra spending on fuel is covered by many schemes. If money is a problem, you can take advantage of current welfare schemes".

Travel

For those who must travel, they are being reminded that during severe weather conditions public transport routes will be prioritised.

The Office of Emergency Planning says those who must use a car they should consider the following:

  • Put a Hi-viz jacket, shovel, boots or wellingtons, extra clothing or a blanket and a flask in the boot of the car
  • Check your tyres: pressure, tread depth (minimum 1.6mm) and condition
  • Ensure all windows are clean and free from snow: bring a scraper and de-icer with you
  • Check your lights and indicators as falling snow reduces visibility
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged
  • It takes longer to stop a vehicle in snow or on icy roads so slow down and allow extra distance between you and the vehicle in front
  • Keep a sharp lookout for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users
  • Keep your windows clear of snow during your journey
  • Manoeuvre gently - avoid harsh braking, acceleration or steering as these can cause a skid
  • Use the highest gear possible to reduce the engine revs as this will help avoid wheel spin

At home

People are being advised that clearing snow from footpaths can be demanding work, and to only undertake it if they are reasonably fit and do not have an underlying medical condition.

They are advised to wear sturdy, insulated amd waterproof footwear with good gripping soles.

A shovel should be used to do this. While there are special shovels for this, any garden shovel will do.

Make a path down the middle of the area being cleared so that you will have a clear surface to walk on.

Never use boiling water to clear snow - as it may re-freeze and cause the formation of black ice.

People can prevent ice forming by spreading salt on the area that they have cleared.

When clearing snow it is important not create an obstacle for pedestrians or traffic.

The Office of the Attorney-General has advised that liability does not arise when snow is cleared from footpaths in a safe manner.

People should also have a small supply of non perishable, easy-to-prepare foods and keep an extra supply of essential medication in case it is difficult to get to the pharmacy.

They should also have an adequate supply of fuel for heating/cooking and, if possible, a suitable alternative in case the the main supply fails.

Homes should also have batteries for torches in the event of power cuts.

ESB

ESB Networks say they are on "full levels of preparedness" for extreme weather later this week.

The utility says: "The electricity network is built, and continually upgraded, to withstand events such as these, but extreme weather, heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures can affect underground and overhead electricity cables and wires.

"ESB Networks will have advised customers about planned outages taking place this week in order to carry out essential maintenance and repairs.

"We can confirm that all planned outages have been cancelled for this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and will be rescheduled at a later date."

People are being asked never to approach or touch any fallen wires or the tree or branch that they are touching.

They can report these dangerous situations immediately by calling 1850-372-999.

In the event of power outages, crews from ESB Networks will be dispatched to the affected areas without electricity supply.

But it says heavy snows may impede access to damaged infrastructure, so outages may take longer than usual to repair.

Customers without power can check for updates here or on the PowerCheck App.

If a fault is not logged you can report it here - or if you have no internet access, you can call 1850-372-999.

Customers should have their MPRN available to access recorded information specific to their location. They can also check on Twitter for updates.

Pets

People are being reminded to take care of animals during the coming week.

With snow and very cold weather forecast, some simple things to remember are:

  • Bring pets inside if you can
  • If you cannot bring them inside make sure that they have extra bedding - rabbits with extra straw, dogs in kennels with extra blankets, etc
  • Make sure they have access to fresh and unfrozen water
  • Move horses closer to access points and put out extra feed

The DSPCA says just because a pet has a warm fur coat does not mean it cannot feel the cold.

Businesses

Employers are being advised to remain vigilant and to prepare for worsening weather.

ISME is advising employers to take time to put measures in place to reduce the potential business impact.

During Ophelia, widespread business closures occurred at short notice. While it is very possible that business closures will not be necessary on this occasion, businesses should prepare for the possibility.

The group says a key consideration needs to be whether, in the circumstances, it is safe to ask employees to travel to work, or to undertake their work.

The potential risk could be greater for certain roles or in certain sectors: e.g. on-the-road sales positions, or in the construction sector where outside work is required.

They should also consider how a business decision will be made as to whether or not a closure is necessary.

Employers should ensure they have up-to-date contact information for all employees in case a last minute decision needs to be communicated.

They may want to put employees on notice that a clause could be invoked at short notice later on in the week.

Should the business be forced to close, they should consider the likely impact this will have on customers.

A plan should be put in place as to how this will be communicated.

Where a business closure does not occur, they should ensure employees are aware who they should contact in the event that they are unable to attend work due to weather conditions.

Flexibility should be allowed for employees, especially those who have some distance to travel.

Where employees are present in the workplace, care should be taken to remain vigilant for any worsening conditions and cancelled or amended travel throughout the day.

ISME says consideration should also be given to how long it will take somebody to commute home safely.

More information is available from the Office of Emergency Planning's 'Be Winter Ready' website