The follow sections give advice on how to prevent emergencies and how to deal with them if they happen:
During the winter months the weather can turn very cold, its important to prepare the home and wear appropriate clothing during this period.
The advice below should help you keep warm during cold periods of weather.
- Wear several thin layers of clothes
- Wear clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy synthetic fibres, these will be light and warm
- At bedtime wear bed socks and a warm nightdress or pyjamas
- Thermal underwear will provide an extra layer to keep you warm
- When outdoors in cold weather always wear a coat
- Under your coat wear several layers of clothing
- Wear a hat to keep your head warm and gloves to keep your hands warm
- Wear warm, flat shoes or boots
- Make sure you know how to turn off your mains water stop valve
- Examine the insulation of pipes and tanks in the loft. If you believe the insulation to be inadequate (too thin/damaged) you should improve or replace it
- If you are going to be away from your property overnight or several days, leave your heating on whilst your away. This will help prevent pipes from freezing and the property becoming cold
- Have a friend/relative visit your property everyday, whilst you're away. If you do suffer a burst pipe, it will then be detected as soon as possible
- Check if it is your supply or if other people are affected too
- If other people are affected, contact your electrical distribution company for advice on how long it will take to regain the supply
- If your home is the only one affected, check your trip switch. Switch it back on, if it goes off, you may have a faulty electrical appliance
- Identify the faulty appliance by placing the trip switch on and turning each appliance on one by one
- If you continue to have problems contact NEDL on 0800 668877 (24hr service)
All homes are at risk from fire.
We spend the majority of our time in our homes it makes sense to make it a secure and safe environment.
How to reduce the risk of fire:
- Get a smoke alarm and test it once a week
- Never leave a candle unattended and make sure the candle has been put out before leaving the room
- Keep matches out of reach from children
- Don't leave children on their own in the kitchen
- Don't leave cigarettes to burn out
The following advice should be followed if you smell gas:
- Don't smoke
- Don't use naked flames
- Don't turn any electric switches on or off
- Do turn of gas supply at the meter
- Do open windows and doors
- Contact TRANSCO on 0800 111 999
A heatwave can cause your body to become dehydrated and overheat, leading to exhaustion or heatstroke. Following the advice identified should help you look after yourself and others during hot weather:
- Listen to your local weather forecast so you will know whether a heatwave is on the way
- Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm)
- If you must go out, try to stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light, loose fitting clothes (preferably cotton).
- Drink plenty of water, avoiding alcohol (it can make you dehydrated)
- Take cool showers or baths, and splash yourself several times a day with cold water.
The Cancer Research UK website gives advice for protecting your skin during hot weather.
Snow and ice
The following advice is provided by the Met Office, on precautions to take before, during and after heavy snowfall:
Before snow or ice
- If you have to make a journey when snow is forecast, make sure you have the appropriate clothing, food, water, boots, a torch and spade
- Let someone know when you are expected to arrive and the route you will take
- Put grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping of compacted snow
- Check on vulnerable neighbours
During snow and ice
- Avoid travel if possible
- If you go outside wear several layers of clothing and keep dry to prevent any loss of body heat
After snow and ice
- Be careful when walking on compacted snow - it may have turned to ice
- Take care when shovelling snow. Cold air makes it harder to work and breathe
The Met Office website provides further information on snow and ice.
Driving on roads in winter
When driving on the roads in winter extra care should be taken, the Highways Agency provides advice on being prepared for the conditions:
During wintry weather conditions
- Ask yourself - is your journey absolutely essential?
- Check the local and national weather forecast
- Listen to local and national radio for travel information
- Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out and carry a screen scraper and de-icer
If you get into trouble
- On a motorway, it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone, as the breakdown/emergency services will be able to locate you easily. If you have to use a mobile phone, make sure you know your location from the numbers on the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder
- If you leave your vehicle to get help, make sure other drivers can see you
The Department for Transport website provides further information on snow and ice.
With a significant proportion of the borough being bounded by the River Tyne and North Sea, the possibility of severe storms/severe weather cannot be discounted.
Severe gales, heavy snow and heavy rain cannot only damage property and threaten life, it may also seriously disrupt communications and utility supply infrastructure.
The UK Met Office issues warnings to the public in order for residents to prepare and protect themselves against the consequences of a severe weather event.
Severe weather warnings are issued when the following conditions are expected:
- Severe gales
- Heavy snow
- Heavy rain
- Dense fog
- Freezing rain/widespread icy roads
Severe gales are the most common cause of disruption and damage in the UK.
The Met Office provides the following advice for when a storm is due, what to do during the storm and precautions to take after the storm:
Before the storm
- Secure loose objects such as ladders, garden furniture or anything else that could be blown into windows or other objects
- Close and securely fasten doors and windows, particularly those on the windward side of the house, and especially large doors such as those on garages
- Park vehicles in a garage, if available; otherwise keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls and fences
- Close and secure loft trapdoors with bolts, particularly if roof pitch is less than 30 degrees centigrade
- If the house is fitted with storm shutters over the windows then ensure that these are closed and fastened
- If chimney stacks are tall and in poor condition, move beds away from areas directly below them
During the storm
- Stay indoors as much as possible
- If you do go out, try not to walk or shelter close to buildings and trees
- Keep away from the sheltered side of boundary walls and fences - if these structures fall, they will collapse on this side
- Do not go outside to repair damage while the storm is in progress
- If possible, enter and leave your house through doors that are sheltered
- Open internal doors only as needed, and close them behind you
- Take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges, or high open roads, delay your journey, or find alternative routes if possible
- Slow down and be aware of side winds, particular care should be taken if you are towing or have a high sided vehicle
- Do not drive unless your journey is really necessary
After the storm
- Be careful not to touch any electrical/telephone cables that have been blown down or are still hanging
- Do not walk too close to walls, buildings and trees as they could have been weakened
- Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them make arrangements for any repairs
Water and flooding
If you think there could be a problem with your water supply, it is advised that you contact your local water company, who should be able to advise you on any further action that should be taken.
For further information on your local water company visit the Northumbria Water website or call 0845 717 1100 (24hr service).
Protect your home from flooding
The Environment Agency provides a 24-hour Floodline service, which allows you to check if your property is at risk.
Contact details are on the emergency numbers page.
The Environment Agency also issues flood warnings to local authorities and emergency services if there is a risk of flooding.
These flood warnings are also circulated to local TV and Radio stations, so that announcements can be made to enable residents to prepare for any localised flooding.
Watch out for the following warning symbols on TV or on the Environment Agency's website:
Be aware! Be prepared! Watch out
Flooding of homes, businesses and main roads is expected. Act now!
Severe flood warning
Severe flood is expected. Imminent danger to life and property. Act now!
All clear is issued when flood watches or warnings are no longer in force. Flood water levels receding. Check all is safe to return. Seek advice.
What can I do to prepare for a flood?
Check your level of insurance cover by asking your insurer the following questions:
- Is my property insured against flood damage?
- Does my cover provide me with temporary accommodation?
- Will any necessary clean up or repairs to my property be taken care of?
- How much compensation will I receive to cover any damages to my property and contents?
Store important documents in waterproof containers or sealed plastic bags and put them at the highest part of the property. Valuable documents may include:
- Birth certificates
- Financial papers
- Pension books
- Benefit books
- Insurance details
- Find out how to turn off your gas and electricity from the mains
- Electrical appliances, which can be lifted should be unplugged and moved to the safest and highest part of the property
- Large appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers, cookers, fridges, freezers that are too heavy to move should be unplugged and disconnected from their pipe work and raised off the floor using bricks and blocks
- Large appliances should be kept away from walls. This will speed up the drying out process after a flood has occurred
- Roll up any small carpets or rugs and place at the highest part of the property
- Empty out the contents of any furniture that cannot be moved and place the contents high up
- Raise any furniture that cannot be moved using bricks or blocks
- Weigh down any items that cannot be raised as this will prevent any movement in the floodwater
Outside your property
- Ladders, garden furniture and any other items that could become damaged or float away should be secured down
- Animals should be brought indoors or if you're property is being evacuated, animals should be prepared so that they can be removed quickly
- Move vehicles to higher land where possible
Emergency flood pack
Prepare an emergency flood pack containing items that you might need should a flood occur. The flood pack should be stored in a place that is safe, easy to reach and should include:
- A list of useful phone numbers
- Home and car keys
- Mobile telephone
- A torch and spare batteries
- Blankets and warm clothing
- Waterproof clothing, including rubber gloves
- A first aid kit, including sanitary supplies and any prescribed medication
- Portable radio with spare batteries
How to clean your home after a flood
You should not re-occupy your property until it has been carefully cleaned as bacteria breed in contaminated floodwater.
The following cleaning guidelines should be followed at all times:
General hygiene precautions
- Wear waterproof clothing such as rubber gloves and boots to avoid skin contact with water
- Always wash your hands with soap and clean water after being in contact with floodwater, sewerage or items that might have been contaminated by them
- Use waterproof dressings to cover any cuts or wounds. Seek medical advice from your GP or local hospital should open wounds come into contact with floodwater
- Seek medical advice from your GP or local hospital if you become ill after accidentally swallowing floodwater
Dry out your property
- Remove all dirty water and silt particularly from the space under the floorboards
- Good ventilation is crucial. Opening windows and doors will allow moisture to escape from the property, but remember to keep your property secure
- Attempt to keep a constant temperature of 20-22 degrees centigrade once a qualified engineer has checked the heating system in your property. High temperatures should be avoided as this can lead to increased bacterial growth
- Check the safety of your water supply with the water supplier before use
- Do not turn your electricity or gas back on until it has been checked by a qualified electrician/engineer
- Any electrical and gas appliances that have come into contact with floodwater should be checked over by a qualified electrician/engineer
- Before disposing of furniture, ask your insurance company to inspect any damaged items and to arrange for their removal. South Tyneside Council can also organise for the removal of bulky items
- Wash all hard surfaces with hot soapy water. Next, use a domestic disinfectant to wash over the surface to kill all bacteria. Allow washed down surfaces to dry thoroughly as this will help to destroy germs
- Put all soft furnishings that can be machine washed in to a hot wash of at least 60 degrees centigrade
- Professionally clean soft furnishings that cannot be machine washed or dispose of the items if this is not possible
- Don't eat any food that has come into contact with floodwater
- Clean and disinfect taps before use
- Wash your hands before and after preparing any food
- Food preparation surfaces, dishes, pots, pans and utensils should be washed using hot unboiled tap water containing washing up liquid before use
- Use boiled or bottled water if you are still unsure about the supply of water to your house. However, do not use bottled water for a bottle-fed baby, as the mineral content may be too high. Always ensure that the water has been boiled for the bottle unless recommended otherwise by a doctor or health advisor
- Do not drink water from the hot tap as the water is unsuitable for drinking
- Check with your insurer before disposing of any food if your freezer has been turned off due to flooding. Do not recover any food, including tins that have come into contact with floodwater. Place damaged food in bin bags and place outside for the next waste collection
- Do not handle any wet electrical equipment
- South Tyneside Council can clean and disinfect external walls and driveways. If you would prefer to do this yourself, you should wash down and disinfect all hard surfaces including paths and allow three hours for the disinfectant to work
- Provide ventilation by unblocking airbricks
- Replace manhole covers that may have been displaced by the flood
- South Tyneside Council can cut and collect grass from gardens and grass verges. If cutting your own grass, allow it to grow as normal and mow it wearing waterproof clothing, as cuttings may be contaminated. Cuttings should then be bagged up andproperly disposed of
- Avoid walking, driving or swimming through floodwater as it could be contaminated
- Wash children's hands regularly if they are playing outdoors. Do not let young children or pets play on grass or paved areas that have come into contact with floodwater
- Toys that have come into contact with floodwater should be washed with hot water or disinfectant before letting a child play with them
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