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Snow safety tips

Deal, Kent - taken by David Christie Photo: David Christie

With the heaviest snow this winter expected to fall over the next 48hours, the RAC predicting 8,500 call-outs by end of today and The Met Office issuing severe weather warnings across the UK, the nation is bracing itself for the worst.

We're being warned to avoid travelling on the roads tomorrow morning as forecasters predict five to ten centimetres of snow. The latest advice from the Met Office is that bulk of the snowfall is anticipated between 4am and 1pm, with the potential to seriously disrupt rush hour traffic. Staying safe in the snow:**

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking people to think twice before travelling and to take care at home.

Even a light snowfall, when coupled with below zero temperatures, can deposit sheet ice on road surfaces, resulting in roads like ice rinks. Snow and ice make road conditions extremely hazardous, so drivers are advised to stay home in the warm rather than risk driving unless their journey is absolutely essential. If you do have to drive, follow this advice:

-Allow plenty of extra time for your journey and drive carefully and steadily.-Remember to allow extra space when manoeuvring your vehicle in slippery conditions.-Ensure your windscreen, rear screen and mirrors are clear and give other drivers plenty of room as well.-Keep an emergency kit of warm clothes, a shovel, food and drink, and a fully charged mobile phone in the car in case you get stuck in the snow.-Don’t try and drive through flood water – you have no idea what debris may be underneath it.

Many people will be spending more time indoors during the extreme weather conditions. You can reduce the risk of a fire starting in your home by following these tips:

-Never try and dry clothing over electric heaters - they can catch fire very easily.

-Ensure your chimney is swept and clear. Always use a fireguard with an open fire.-Never leave candles unattended or on flammable surfaces.-Switch off electrical appliances before you go out or go to bed (unless they are designed to stay on, such as a freezer).-If you or anyone in your family smokes, make sure you extinguish cigarettes properly.-Most house fires start in the kitchen – never leave cooking unattended.

If you fancy a walk in the fresh air, stay away from frozen water (e.g. ponds and lakes) and to emphasise the dangers to children and young people. While the ice may appear to be safe, it is often much thinner than it looks and it is very easy for people to get into difficulties. Dog walkers who attempt to save their pets are also putting their own lives at risk: if the ice isn’t strong enough to support the weight of a dog, it will not support your weight either.

On the trains:**

Southeastern is warning passengers that heavy snow and icy weather conditions forecast for tomorrow are likely to affect train services. Passengers are advised to check for live travel information before travelling and allow additional time when making a journey.

Southeastern spokesman said: “We’re reliant on Network Rail clearing the tracks and ensuring points and signals don’t freeze up so we can run a train service. Given the weather forecast, there may be disruption on some routes through the day. Our staff will be out working to clear platforms and treat icy surfaces and Network Rail will be running snow and ice clearance trains day and night to help keep the network open.

“We’re advising all passengers to check before travelling to see if train times have been altered, allow plenty of extra time and take extra care on the slippery roads and footpaths.”

On the roads in Hampshire:

Hampshire County Council says it's salt barns are full with enough salt for 15 days of continuous, round-the-clock salting. Three thousand community salt bins have salt for people to spread on public roads and pavements, and around 100 farmers are on standby to assist with clearing roads of snow using snow ploughs if needed. As always during the winter season, salting lorries are ready to salt Priority 1 routes - roads that carry 85% of the county's traffic - when temperatures are set to fall to zero or below. Other routes, including community routes to local primary schools, doctors surgeries and local shops will also be treated.

People are being warned that the ground is still saturated due to the significant amount of rain we have had during the winter season so far. Water run-off from fields and high ground has the potential to wash away the salt being spread by the salting lorries, so it is possible that rural roads could ice over when the temperatures drop. To minimise this, salt wicks (porous bags filled with salt) have been placed at known locations along the highway to maintain a salinity level in the flowing water to try and help prevent it from freezing on the road surface. Councillor Kendal, added: "If you have to travel, please follow advice on driving safely and check your local radio for news about the situation regarding public transport and traffic on the roads. Tread carefully if you are walking as it is likely to be slippery underfoot and cyclists are also asked to take extra care. It is advisable to leave extra time for your journey, if it cannot be postponed, and to ensure you're prepared with warm clothing, a warm drink and snacks, a charged mobile phone - with your breakdown emergency number in your contacts - and plenty of fuel."

On the roads in Dorset:Bournemouth Council says the salt barn is stocked, the gritters are on standby and contingency plans ready as Bournemouth prepares for the widely anticipated sleet/snow and icy conditions expected in the next 24 hours.

Should there be disruption to services the Council will be listing all of its updates, actions and news about how Council activities are affected on the homepage of its website, as information comes in.

The council will also be postings updates throughout the day on our social media channels including Facebook and Twitter.

In addition you can find specific details about all of our preparations for keeping safe and warm this winter on our website.