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Cold weather and snow

Whilst icy or snowy landscapes can look beautiful and provide opportunities for family fun, it is important to remember that frost and freezing weather can have a serious impact on day-to-day lives.

Thames Valley is characterised by countryside and hills, linked to urban areas via winding roads and a busy motorway network, leaves the county exposed to a variety of hazards when the temperature falls. 


How could this affect me?

Cold weather and snow can cause school closures, disruption to transport and utilities, and hazardous driving conditions. This can lead to problems with people being able to get to work, and with keeping businesses and critical services running, for an extended period of time. Cold weather also affects the most vulnerable in the community, including older adults and those with underlying health issues. This increases the risk of illness and the number of injuries as a result of slips, trips and falls.

In January 2010, snow caused disruption across most of the UK resulting in school closures, power outages and people being unable to get to work for a number of days depending on their location. November and December 2010 saw temperatures in Berkshire plummet to between -5 degrees centigrade and -15 degrees centigrade and saw around 40 centimetres of snow fall in parts of the county resulting in treacherous road conditions and major disruption to transport and essential services.

Get prepared
  • How to prepare
    • Stay informed–look at the weather forecast and check warnings from the Met Office to find out if snow is predicted
    • Make sure your house has sufficient insulation, particularly around your water tank, loft and water pipes
    • Prepare your car – make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for the journey (including sufficient fuel, screen wash, suitable tyres, high visibility jacket, blankets and a spade)
    • Visit the NHS Winter Health website for tips on how to stay well in winter
    • Check local grit bins are well stocked, especially if you live on a slope. Request top-ups if necessary
  • What to do during cold weather and snow
    • If the power goes off you can call Freephone 105 to report it or get information
    • Keep warm – wear layers of clothing and shoes with good grip
    • Check your heating is in good working order and close curtains to keep the heat in
    • Avoid non-essential travel. If you do have to travel, plan ahead, and ensure all snow is cleared from your vehicle
    • Make sure you have told somebody about your journey and your estimated time of arrival and have a fully charged mobile phone with you
    • Find information on gritting routes and grit bins from your local council
    • Check with your local council to find out about unavoidable closures to schools, libraries, recycling centres or museums
    • Check on elderly or vulnerable relatives and neighbours
    • Tune into radio, social media and the met office for the latest weather updates
  • What to do after cold weather and snow
    • Take care when driving or walking on compacted snow as it presents a more slippery surface than fresh snow
    • Be ready for the snow to melt and be aware of the risk of flooding
    • Check your property for damage to pipes and gutters which may have been damaged by the cold temperatures and snow
    • Check on elderly or vulnerable relatives and neighbours
    • Replenish your stocks of de-icer and grit/salt