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Severe cold weather advice

Getting information during severe cold weather

  • Listen to local radio stations for advice and updates
  • Check the Council's Twitter feed and Facebook page
  • Check our school closures page.
  • Check the BBC Travel news page for the latest traffic and road disruptions
  • Read notices and advice from the local press and organisations such as Age UK regarding welfare support and any cold weather payments schemes

Travel advice and road gritting

  • See our winter service page for information about road gritting and salt bins This includes a useful fact sheet and details of all primary and secondary gritting routes.
  • See our winter travel advice for drivers
  • Check the BBC Travel news page for the latest traffic and road disruptions
  • Check local bus companies' websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages for the latest updates
  • When clearing snow and ice outside your home you only need to use one tablespoon of grit to treat one square metre of public footway.

Local bus companies

Useful tips in the home

  • To prevent freezing of internal pipes it is recommended that you turn off your water supply to prevent pipes from bursting. Locate the stop-cock inside your home (usually under the kitchen sink). Also, know the location of the stop-cock outside of your home, if you can't find it, contact South West Water.
  • Keep torches (and batteries) to hand in case lighting fails or you need to switch off power.
  • Keep important emergency numbers near your home – for example a 24-hour plumber and an emergency salvage and clean-up company (usually listed under 'carpet and upholstery cleaners' in directories).
  • Check your buildings and contents insurance details. Most will be pleased for you to arrange damage limitation with plumbers and cleaners yourself. Note any emergency contact telephone numbers.
  • If your house has any exposed pipes, lag them with thick material or old blankets. If lofts are very cold, leave trap doors open.
  • If you are away from your house overnight or for any long period, leave the heating system on a low setting to prevent pipes freezing. If practical, switch off water and drain pipes.
  • Ensure everyone living in your home knows where the water stop cock and electricity mains switch, are located.
  • If you have a battery radio, check it and ensure you have spare batteries.

If you think a pipe is frozen, but has not burst

  • Contact a plumber or if it is safe try to thaw the affected pipe using a hair dryer or hot water bottle (do not use a naked flame to do this). Be aware of the dangers of electricity and water.
  • Store some water, for personal and toilet needs, for when you have to switch the mains water off later.

Burst pipe or water dripping

  • First switch off your electricity at the mains - but if there is any danger of mains switch being wet seek advice first. Do not touch any light or power fittings until mains electricity has been disconnected.
  • Turn off water at the stop-cock.
  • Phone for a plumber, and if extensive damage is likely, phone your house insurance emergency number for advice, or get in touch with an emergency salvage and clean-up company. Remember you will have to pay for these services if you have no insurance cover.
  • Think about the effects of no water or electricity in your house; if you have problems ask neighbours or family for help.


  • No matter how bad the situation, ensure the safety of people before property. Call the Fire and Rescue Service if you face a flooding situation which you cannot cope with.
  • Check your house now and also after a cold spell, before the thaw sets in.
  • Be a good neighbour and check people living around you.

Visit our severe weather page to find out if there are any weather warnings currently in place.