Cold weather ready

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Essential checklists to keep you, your home and your vehicle safe in colder weather

With winter weather warnings being issued in recent weeks and with more to come, here are some tips for keeping safe and warm.


In the House:

  • Ensure you have had your boiler serviced, and your central heating and gas fires checked for safety by a registered Gas Safe professional.
  • Set your central heating to 10°c minimum to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Check that your loft and any pipes in it are properly insulated.
  • Add draft excluders or weather stripping to doors and windows.
  • Have the chimneys swept if you use an open fire. Reduce the risk of chimney fires by only burning completely dry wood.
  • Make sure everybody knows where the mains water tap is.
  • Keep handy contact details of a trusted local plumber, heating engineer and electrician in case of an emergency. Having numbers for a selection of reliable tradesmen on your mobile is always handy. 
  • Keep some spare buckets easily accessible. Make sure everybody knows where they are, so whoever discovers the leak can start dealing with it straight away.


Preparing your garden or land:

  • If a storm or high winds are forecast ensure you shut away anything that could become a danger in strong winds. 
  • Remove low-hanging branches that could cause damage with strong winds.
  • Check that external light fittings, doors and gates are secure.
  • Grit paths and roadways on your property.
  • Make sure all outside water taps are lagged, to prevent freezing and bursting.
  • Check your roof for broken tiles or cracks in the chimney.
  • Ensure gutters and drainpipes are clear of leaves and debris.


Travelling in winter weather


A high number of winter weather accidents are auto related and with UK weather so unpredictable, it is vital to ensure you are winter ready when on the road.


While it’s best to avoid travelling when it’s snowing or icy, it’s not always possible so below are tips on how to keep your vehicle running and to keep you safe whilst in the vehicle.

How to prepare and keep your vehicle running:

  • Snow chains: depending on the terrain you will cover.
  • Tyres: check the tyres have the correct air pressure and there is a minimum 3mm tread all round (Consider buying winter tyres if possible).
  • Battery: take regular journeys to keep the battery from draining in the cold.
  • Window Screen: keep your screen wash topped up, do not use hot water to de-ice screens, instead use a de-ice solution to clear all windows before driving.
  • Locks: keep locks from freezing by using some WD40 on them.


Things to keep in your vehicle in the winter:


  • Torch and spare batteries.
  • Reflective triangle (also carry distress flares if you drive in remote areas).
  • First aid kit.
  • Ice scraper, de-icer spray, snow brush and shovel.
  • Matches, wrapped to exclude dampness, and a good penknife or scissors.
  • Warm clothing, gloves, blankets and wellingtons.
  • Bottled water as well as other non-perishable food.
  • Jump leads and tow rope.
  • Spare battery for your mobile phone.


Driving in snow and ice:

  • Avoid wheel spin: set off in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently.
  • Visibility: if reduced due to fog or low light levels, use dipped headlights at all times. You may need sunglasses if the sun is low in the sky or reflecting off snow.
  • Gentle manoeuvres: avoid harsh braking and acceleration, or sharp steering. If the surface is slippy, reduce your speed in plenty of time particularly around bends and corners.
  • Reduce speed: chances of skidding are much greater and your stopping distance will increase massively when driving at normal speeds. Speed limits are the maximum in ideal conditions; in difficult conditions, they can often be too fast.
  • Increase braking distance: braking on an icy or snow-covered bend is extremely dangerous and could cause your vehicle to spin. To brake on ice and snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use your brakes gently.
  • Keep your distance: increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front. You may need up to ten times the normal distance for braking.

About the author

David Greenhalgh

+44 (0)20 3435 6316 Email