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Preparing for Winter Weather

Advice to help you during the colder months, preparing for snow, ice, wind and wet winter weather

Winter weather can be very changeable. We can expect low temperatures, rain, high winds and snow. However, when any of these are for prolonged periods, they can impact the way we go about our daily lives and can affect those that live in our communities, particularly the vulnerable.

On this page:

Planning ahead

The Met Office website provides weather forecasts and weather alerts for your area to help you plan for bad weather. It also provides useful information about being prepared for winter.

The Environment Agency produces useful information and advice regarding Flood Alerts and Warnings that can help you prepare before it's too late.


Keeping warm and well

Anyone can be affected by severe cold weather, but some members of our communities are especially prone to cold-related illness as a result. Severe cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases.

You may find the Keep Warm, Keep Well leaflets on the GOV.UK website useful. 

Further information can be found in the Cold Weather Plan for England, or on the NHS Severe Weather and Winter Health webpages.


Protecting your home

In the past, adverse winter weather has caused significant disruption to our communities, and in some cases has meant people have needed to move out of their homes, notably because of flood damage. Flooding isn't the only risk though - strong winds, snow and ice can also cause real problems.

Snow and ice

The biggest risk to your property could be from frozen pipes, as they can expand and burst. You can find information about what to do if you have frozen pipes on the Thames Water website.

During cold weather, we grit many primary and secondary routes across our road network - you can see where and when we grit roads on our Road Gritting and Snow Clearance page. It's also important to think about changes to stopping distances if you're driving in snowy or icy conditions - you can find information about stopping distances on the AA website.

High winds

When high winds are forecast, remember that everyday items left outside can become 'missiles' and can cause damage and danger to people. It's a common sight in winter to see pictures of airborne trampolines and garden furniture caught in gales!

Before it gets windy, it's also worth checking for loose tiles, slates and lead flashing on your roof, and removing dead branches from old trees to make sure you avoid accidents.


You can find out about how to find out if you live in a flood risk area and prepare for flooding on our 'Preparing for Flooding' page.


Safe travel

Many agencies and organisations work all year round to make sure roads, rail and air travel continue to run as smoothly as possible during periods of severe weather. However, everyone can do their bit to make travel easier when we do experience wind, rain, snow or ice.

The Met Office website provides a variety of useful tips and links about winter travel. 

The council also provides information regarding gritting and snow clearance routes and any planned transport disruption, to help you plan your journey. Most public transport operators also provide information on their websites so that you can check how their services are running - always take a look before you set out to save a wasted or frustrating journey!

National Highways, the RAC website and the AA website also have really useful advice to help you prepare your vehicle and plan a route for safe travel during winter months.

You can read more about what West Berkshire Council does to deal with winter weather on our roads in the Icon for pdf Winter Plan [7MB] .

Helping your community

Like any emergency, bad weather can have an effect on any community, particularly the vulnerable, especially if it lasts a long time. Having a personal, community or business plan to help plan for such events is recommended.

You can find more about creating a plan, supporting the vulnerable by getting their details onto the utilities priority service register and being a good neighbour on our 'Creating an Emergency Plan' page.


Sources of help

The NHS website has practical advice has practical advice to help you or those you care for keep warm and healthy in winter. The government offers Cold Weather Payments, Winter Fuel Payments and Warm Home Discount to support the elderly or people receiving certain benefits.

Heat the Home Counties

In West Berkshire, you may be eligible for a grant if your household income after tax, Council Tax and energy costs is less than £35,000 per year, or if someone in your household receives benefits.

Visit the Heat the Home Counties website for more information.

Utilities: priority services

Some vulnerable people can be registered as 'priority users' so that companies will prioritise keeping their services connected, or offer support, if the service is interrupted for any reason.

To find out more about joining the priority services register, visit our Creating an Emergency plan page.

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