THE CITY’S emergency services and the City Council today joined forces to ask people to ‘be prepared’ for winter weather conditions.
Residents are asked to first of all consider whether their journey is necessary and to have a ‘plan B’ if possible such as working from home in particularly bad conditions.
The safety message also includes checking weather forecasts before going out in a car or on foot, wearing appropriate winter clothing, ensuring vehicles are safe to drive in hazardous conditions, and be neighbourly and check on older or more vulnerable neighbours.
While Aberdeen City Council does grit roads and pavements on a priority basis including the main roads and pavements, and near sheltered housing and social work properties, near schools where possible, near fire stations, the crematorium, shopping centres, and near hospitals, gritters cannot be everywhere at all times.
Early morning and standby gritting operations start today and will run through to 15 March, conditions depending. Weather forecasts are closely monitored throughout the day and night, and gritters and ploughs can be out 24/7.
Aberdeen City Council Chief Operating Officer Rob Polkinghorne said: “Our early morning gritter drivers are usually driving to work themselves on untreated roads before they start work at 4.45am to ensure the main roads are gritted for most people as they start their day.
“Almost half (47%) of Aberdeen’s roads will be treated before 7.30am under the plans, with 590 miles of roads in the city – more than the distance from Aberdeen to London.
“We cannot be everywhere around the city at the same time and ask residents to be prepared themselves by carrying out journey planning having an alternative plan for transport if possible, keep a close check on weather forecasts, plan appropriately and adhere to police and travel advice.”
Road Policing Inspector Steve Manson said: “As we approach the winter period, it’s crucial that everyone recognises the need to prepare for the severe weather that we can experience in the North-east. Planning in advance and taking some simple precautions will reduce the risk of breakdowns and collisions, ensuring a safe winter for everyone.
“I would encourage motorists to make sure their vehicle is suitably prepared for the roads. Check that your brakes, tyres, lights, batteries, wiper blades and fluids are all in good condition and well maintained. Before setting off, make sure your windows are clean, properly demisted and clear of all snow and ice before you drive. You should also ensure your roof is clear of snow as this can affect drivers behind you and can also cause obstructions on your windscreen when braking.
“I would also urge motorists to plan ahead. Check the weather forecast before you set off and leave additional time for your journey. If the weather or road conditions are poor or dangerous then I would ask you to consider whether you really need to travel right away. Please bear in mind the conditions of the road and drive accordingly.”
The Scottish Ambulance Service asked people to dress appropriately for winter weather, stock up on essential medicines, and only call 999 in an emergency.
Euan Esslemont, the Scottish Ambulance Service’s Head of Services for the North Region (Grampian), said: “Winter is an extremely busy time of year for us and we’re working closely with Aberdeen City Council, our health board partners and emergency service colleagues to manage increased pressures during this time.
“The public can help us by only using 999 in a medical emergency and taking steps to prepare for winter – make sure you get a flu jab, for example, and ensure you have an emergency plan in case of severe weather; including ensuring any medication or prescription supplies are stocked up, especially for the days GP surgeries are closed.
“You can also help us by thinking about ensuring your house number or name is clearly lit up and visible and that the path to your home is clear and accessible so our crews can find you in an emergency.
“Finally, if you are out celebrating during this period, please dress appropriately for cold weather, have a plan for getting home safely, and be considerate – look after yourself and consider the impact your actions may have on others.”
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service asked residents to ensure they are as safe as they can be.
Bruce Farquharson, Local Senior Officer for Aberdeen City, said: “Fundamentally if we get severe winter weather conditions then communities need to consider whether their journey is absolutely essential.
“If it’s felt that it is, then please put in place sufficient provisions – ensure you have a full tank of fuel, a fully-charged mobile phone, warm clothing, a small shovel and some food and water.
“SFRS and our partners will always respond to an emergency where someone has become stuck or is in distress, and we can call upon a number of resources which will allow us to do so.
“But residents can help ensure that they are as safe as possible by being prepared for that eventuality.”