Renfrewshire Council

Prepare for winter weather

There are many ways of preparing for the winter months that will be beneficial to you. 

Preparations aren't costly or time consuming and will keep you equipped for the worst.

Prepare your home 

During winter, pipes can burst due to the water in the pipes freezing. 

There are a few simple measures you can take to prevent pipes from freezing, such as keeping your heating on at a low temperature or leaving taps open slightly to keep a small flow of water continuing through the pipes. 

Follow this advice from Scottish Water on protecting your pipes:

  • Identify where the stop value on your boiler is and then learn how to turn off your water.
  • Learn how to turn off your electricity supply at the mains.
  • Ensure your property and contents are insured.
  • Understand the terms of instance policies to understand what you are covered for, for example, flooding, burst pipes and storm damage.
  • Keep funds available to pay for emergency plumbers, electricians etc.
  • Identify your nearest grit bin.
  • Keep a shovel, salt/grit and de-icer which will assist in clearing paths, driveways and ice from cars.
  • Consider buying portable gas or oil-filled heaters for emergencies.

Prepare yourself 

  • Keep supplies of cold/flu medicine at home.
  • Ask if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine - speak to your doctor.
  • Keep warm indoors and out, and wear a hat in cold temperatures as your head is where most of your body heat escapes from.

For more information on staying healthy in the winter months, visit the NHS website

Be helpful 

  • Check on elderly friends, neighbours and relatives regularly.
  • Ask if you can help in any way, for example, with food shopping.
  • If safe to do so, help if you see a vehicle in difficulty. Perhaps you could offer the use of a telephone or simply a warm drink?

For more tips on preparing and coping in the winter months, visit the Ready Scotland website.

Being a good neighbour and clearing paths of ice and snow is the kind of practical step that most of us can take during cold weather. In fact, a helping hand can make all the difference for people who may be unable to clear their own paths, or who need to use local paths to access services.

Clearing paths and driveways

There is no law preventing you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside or on paths to your house (or any other building you are responsible for).

Provided you are careful, use common sense and don't do anything which would be likely to cause harm or distress to others, it's highly unlikely that you'll be found responsible for any accidents. In fact, people using areas affected by snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves.

It's much easier to clear fresh snow, so make a start if you can before people squash it down.

Don't use hot water. This will melt the snow, but may well replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury.

Choose suitable clothing for the task, for example, footwear that provides a good grip.

Don't take unnecessary risks on the road. Traffic will find it difficult to stop quickly in icy conditions. When clearing ice and snow, wear visible clothing which helps traffic to see you.

If shovelling snow, think about where you're going to put it, so that you don't block people's paths or simply shift the problem elsewhere. Make sure it will not cause problems when it melts. Piling snow over gullies or drains may stop melting snow from draining away and cause it to refreeze.

Clear a small path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so that you have a safe surface to walk on. You can then shovel from the centre to the sides.

Spread some grit on the area you have cleared to prevent ice forming. If necessary, ordinary table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass. Don't use too much;a tablespoon for each square metre cleared will be enough. It will take a little while to work.

If there is no salt available, then a little sand or ash can be used - it will not have the same de-icing properties but should offer more grip under foot.

Use the sun to your advantage. Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; but you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop refreezing overnight.

Salt can be washed away by further snowfalls or rain and then refreeze, leaving black ice. If this happens, more salt should be used soon after the rain has stopped and before temperatures reach freezing. Particular care and attention should be given to steps and steep slopes - additional salt could be used in these areas to reduce the risk of slipping.

Try to sweep up any excess grit, sand or other substances used come the thaw - to prevent these from blocking drains.