Last week's Storm Darwin caused widespread damage across the country and it seems the unsettled weather pattern may continue in the short-term. With this in mind we have decided to put together a valuable blog post on how to stay safe during inclement weather conditions and especially with regard to older people.
Monitor the Weather
Generally, we are very good at keeping up to date with weather forecasts. However, as the recent weather patterns have proven, you need to keep up to date with weather forecasts frequently during the day.
There are now very many ways to stay in touch with changing weather warnings.
There are very many news websites which will report on current changes in weather. You can access the suggested news sites below on your mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer.
Protect Your Home
You need to review your home in inclement weather conditions. Below we share AA Home Insurance's top tips on how to protect your home.
Tips to prevent pipes bursting in winter:
- If you are leaving your home for a length of time this winter – turn off water at the mains and ensure the pipes are drained. You can drain the pipes by letting the water run on all taps and by flushing all toilets.
- If you don’t want to drain your water system and you have gas or oil central heating, you can set the system to operate continuously for 24 hours a day at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Centigrade. Please ensure all radiators are on and there is adequate fuel supply
- You should also ensure that the attic door (where fitted) is left open. This will help spread the heat throughout the entire house.
Checklist for a safer home during winter:
- Clean dead leaves and other debris from your gutters from time to time to avoid rainwater overflowing on to your roof.
- Check roof tiles and slates are secure so you don’t get water damage in the loft/roof space.
- Check your aerial is properly secured.
- Remove dead/damaged branches from any trees which could damage your property in stormy weather.
- Store your garden furniture in a properly sealed shed/garage/conservatory.
- Make sure your front gate is properly locked.
- Make sure your pipes are properly insulated to avoid them freezing. Outside pipes should be fitted with insulating sleeves if exposed. The big freeze of late 2009 and early 2010 resulted in more than 19,000 insurance claims at a cost of close to a quarter of a billion to the Irish Insurance industry.
- Make sure all electrical Christmas decorations, such as fairy lights have tight connections. Make sure you unplug them all when there’s no one at home.
- Never leave candles lit in an empty room.
- Check the attic has adequate ventilation.
- Double check that your smoke alarm works.
Advice for Older & Vulnerable People
Very often older people and those will chronic illness are more vulnerable in winter weather. If you have older family members or neighbours who live alone do check on them frequently.
- Make daily calls to ensure they are ok
- Check on their home's physical structure and check pipes, drains and the security of windows and doors
- Ensure they have enough medication if they cannot get out due to adverse weather conditions
- Bulk buy dry and tinned food products
- Check they have enough heat and heating systems are working e.g. gas, electricity, open fires
- Ensure their home telephone hasn't been cut off due to cut cables
- Ask if they have enough credit on their mobile phones to make emergency calls
- Do they have a personal alarm and is it working?
- Do they feel secure, what is their emotional state like?
If you or a loved one or neighbour is in need of external support during inclement weather conditions there are a number of agencies who can provide help.
An Garda Síochána can be contacted by the following means:
In an emergency always dial 999/112. You should use this service if a crime or incident is happening now or if anyone is in immediate danger.
In an emergency always dial 999/112. You should use this service if a crime or incident is happening now or if anyone is in immediate danger. 999/112 calls have the highest priority and your call will be handled by trained Call-takers. An Garda Síochána aim to answer 80% of 999 calls within 7 seconds and deploy resources immediately giving an estimated time of arrival. We will take appropriate steps to deal with all incidents and ensure that emergency and life threatening calls receive priority. We will endeavour to get to you within 15 minutes in urban locations and as soon as possible, given the distance to be travelled, in more rural areas.
The 112 SMS service lets deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired people in the Republic of Ireland send an SMS text message* to the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) where it will be passed to An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance service, the Fire service, or the Irish Coastguard. The ECAS operator will act as a relay between the texter and the required emergency service. Before you can use the 112 SMS service, you will need to register your mobile phone on www.112.ie website.
Remember that this is an Emergency Service and should only be used in an emergency i.e. life is at risk, crime or incident is happening now, anyone is in immediate danger.
*An SMS text message is a non real-time service and therefore there is no guarantee that your SMS will be delivered.