All the advice you need ahead of the arrival of Storm Emma And The “Beast From The East”.
The National Emergency Coordination Group (NECG) for severe weather met to review national and local preparedness in advance of the forthcoming severe weather which Met Éireann is forecasting for this week.
The meeting was convened by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in its role as Lead Government Department for the response to severe weather events, and was attended by Minister Eoghan Murphy, T.D.
The meeting was given an update from Met Éireann on the weather outlook for the week ahead. Met Éireann has indicated that for Tuesday and Wednesday there will be cold daytime temperatures and some snowfall.
An Orange Level weather warning is in place for 15:00hrs Tuesday to 11:00hrs Wednesday for Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Louth, Meath and Wicklow for scattered snow showers leading to accumulations of 4-6cm by Wednesday morning, with widespread frost and icy conditions forecast also.
From Thursday evening wind speeds will pick up, possibly reaching gale force. This will be accompanied by heavy snowfall in most parts of the country. This is predicated to be a disruptive weather event impacting multiple sectors.
The public is advised to visit the website www.winterready.ie for advice on preparing for the oncoming weather and is advised also to check on vulnerable and isolated neighbours over the next couple of days.
Local authorities have been preparing for this week’s weather since last Friday and have activated local coordination. Winter road maintenance programmes are ongoing with salting being conducted twice daily on prioritised routes.
Local authorities in the main urban centres of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford will keep all cold weather initiatives for rough sleepers in place and additional capacity has been put in place to ensure that there are additional bed spaces available for rough sleepers that would not normally avail of homeless services.
In Dublin, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has secured an additional 104 beds and ‘one night only’ beds will remain open on a 24 hour basis. To provide for additional contingency beds, the DRHE has also arranged that a city centre sports hall will be available to accommodate up to 60 additional bed spaces. Two Housing First outreach teams will be working on the streets to encourage rough sleepers to come into shelter.
Members of the public are also being asked to contact their local authority to report any rough sleepers that they have concerns about and any such cases will be followed up.
Public transport operators have all activated their severe weather plans, and contingency arrangements are in place for clearing snow and operating in snow and icy conditions.
Critical infrastructure providers have also been monitoring the developing weather situation and relevant contingency plans and procedures are in place to deal with any potential disruption.
Defence Forces personnel are ready to assist local authorities upon request.
The Department of Education & Skills is continuing to monitor the developing weather situation and decisions regarding school closures schools will be made locally.
The focus of the NECG for the week ahead will be on maintaining public safety, keeping transport systems operational where possible, keeping society functioning and keeping the country open for business. Individuals, communities and businesses are being urged to use the next couple of days to review preparedness arrangements for the oncoming weather.
People are advised to monitor national and local media, including social media, over the coming days to keep up to date with information regarding the developing weather situation.
Road Safety Alert from the Road safety Authority
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is advising all road users to prepare for the extremely cold weather conditions which are forecast for this week.
Snow showers and icy conditions are expected from Monday evening onwards, these conditions will mainly affect eastern areas on Tuesday and will progressively become more widespread and heavier through the week.
A spell of persistent and heavy snow is expected on Thursday night and into Friday morning, this combined with gale force winds has the potential to create BLIZZARD conditions with significant and disruptive accumulations of snow.
The RSA is asking drivers to take the time now to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and ready for these conditions. Drivers should ensure that:
– Their tyres are roadworthy, inflated to the correct pressure and the thread depth is above the legal minimum of 1.6mm.
– Vehicle lights are clean and working properly.
– Windscreen wipers are not worn and there is de-icer in their windshield washing fluid and it is advisable to have an ice scraper handy
– They are familiar with any safety assist features on their vehicle e.g. ABS, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control which help in the event of a skid.
Drivers are advised to carry a number of essentials in the boot of their car including.
– High visibility vest
– Appropriate footwear in case you need to leave your vehicle e.g. boots
– A hazard warning triangle
– De-icing equipment (for glass and door locks)
– First aid kit
– A working torch
– A blanket, additional clothing & some food and water
All road users should check national and local weather forecasts and traffic reports before making any journey to be aware of the conditions before setting out on a trip.
In terms of practical advice for road users to cope with the icy and snowy conditions the RSA is advising drivers to:
– Clear windows and mirrors before you set out, use a screen scraper and de-icer. Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass.
– Remove all snow from your vehicle before commencing your journey. Snow left on the roof will become loose and can drop onto the windscreen during braking, thereby causing sudden and severe restriction to your vision. It can also fall off during your drive and cause injury to pedestrians or a reflex action by another driver.
– In snow and icy conditions slow down, use all controls delicately and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front. Avoid over steering and harsh braking and harsh acceleration. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends.
– In blizzard conditions, visibility will be reduced greatly. Do not drive on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front (Target Fixing). This can give a false sense of security and you will be too close to be able to brake safely. In heavy snow, use your fog lights, turn off your radio and open your window a fraction, so you can hear other traffic, especially at junctions.
– Use dipped headlights at all times, and fog lights in heavy snow to ensure you are seen by other motorists (but don’t forget to turn them off afterwards).
– Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space.
– Drivers of high sided vehicles like trucks and buses are particularly at risk from both the dangers posed by snow but also from the high winds associated with blizzard conditions.
For a copy of the RSA’s ‘Top 10 tips for driving in snow or icy conditions’ click here.
Pedestrians are advised to:
– Be seen. Wear bright clothing but ideally wear a high visibility jacket, reflective armband or reflective belt.
– Wear appropriate footwear. Walk on the footpath, not in the street. Walk on the right hand side of the road, facing traffic if there are no footpaths.
– DO NOT underestimate the danger of ice. Many slips and falls happen in places people regard as safe and secure, typically outside their front door, on the door step, on the path or while getting out of the car. When you approach a footpath or roadway that appears to be covered with snow or ice, always use extreme caution.
ESB Networks on full levels of preparedness for extreme weather later this week
ESB Networks is preparing for the forecast of snow and freezing temperatures for this week issued by Met Éireann. Damage may occur to the electricity network and ESB Networks has a full emergency response in place to address any power outages.
The electricity network is built, and continually upgraded, to withstand events such as these, but extreme weather, heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures can affect underground and overhead electricity cables and wires.
ESB Networks will have advised customers about planned outages taking place this week in order to carry out essential maintenance and repairs. We can confirm that all planned outages have been cancelled for this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and will be rescheduled at a later date.
SAFETY WARNING: Low Hanging or Fallen Wires:
Snow and ice can damage the electricity network by causing electricity wires to hang low or even fall. These wires will still be live and are extremely dangerous. Never ever approach or touch electricity network wires under any circumstances. Snow may also cause trees and branches to fall across or lean onto electricity lines. Please do not approach or touch any fallen wires or the tree or branch that they are touching. Please report these dangerous situations immediately by calling 1850 372 999.
In the event of power outages, crews from ESB Networks will be dispatched to the affected areas without electricity supply, making the electricity network safe and assessing the damage, so that they can restore power as quickly and effectively as possible. Heavy snows may impede access to damaged infrastructure, so outages may take longer than usual to repair.
ESB Networks would like to ask our customers to be prepared to be without electricity in case their area is hit:
• Have plenty of food and water available
• Have torches with spare batteries available
• Make sure your phone is charged and, if possible, have a phone charger at hand for your car
• Please check that elderly or vulnerable relatives and neighbours are prepared to be without electricity
• If you have electric gates, please check you know how to work them manually
Customers without power can check for updates on when their fault is expected to be repaired at www.esbpowercheck.ie or on the PowerCheck App for iPhone and Android devices.
If your fault is not logged please report it at https://www.esbnetworks.ie/power-outages-updates/report-a-power-outage or if you have no internet access please call 1850 372 999. Customers should have their MPRN available to access recorded information specific to their location. You can also check @ESBNetworks on Twitter for updates.
ESB Networks is reminding customers of the precautionary measures to take in the event of a power cut:
• Never approach broken lines or damaged poles, and keep children and animals away – report damage to ESB Networks at 1850 372 999 and listen to recorded messages carefully
• Turn off electric cookers, ovens, irons, etc. if electricity supply is lost
• Leave a light switched on so you know when power has been restored
• Take extra care if using candles, oil lamps or other naked flames
• Test smoke alarms with fresh batteries
• Ensure adequate ventilation if using gas heaters.
Minister Ring urges people to check on older, vulnerable neighbours during adverse weather
The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Mr. Michael Ring TD, has reminded people of the need to look out for older and more vulnerable members of their community during the cold snap which has been forecast for this week. Snow and extreme cold are predicted this week and a Status Yellow weather advisory for the whole country has been extended and is in place until March 3rd at 6pm.
Minister Ring said: “All indications are that we are facing into a period of extreme weather. Older people and those living alone are often most vulnerable to these cold snaps.
“It’s important to look out for older people not only in isolated rural areas but also in built up urban areas. I urge people throughout the country to check in on your neighbours by phone or, if possible, in person. It is particularly important to check if people have enough food, fuel and medication.
“Bad weather can make it challenging and indeed risky for older people to get out for provisions so it really helps to do a run to the shops for them.
“I also urge older people that have personalised alarms to ensure they are wearing them at all times so that people can be alerted if anyone gets into trouble.”
Last year Minister Ring’s Department allocated €2.7 million for the Seniors Alert Scheme which provides personalised alarms to people over 65. Over 10,000 alarms have been installed since the launch of the scheme in October.
All HSE Health Services in the Mid West Region will be on standby with other agencies, to monitor the progress of the severe weather forecast for Ireland this week.
A status YELLOW weather advisory is in place in this area and it is expected both ground and air temperatures will be well below normal.
Bernard Gloster Chief Officer HSE Mid West Community Healthcare and Chair of the Health Service Mid West Crisis Management Team for Major Emergencies said “The type of weather forecast is always of concern. Motorists, Pedestrians and Cyclists can experience particular additional risks while travelling. We are asking people to be safe. As a particular additional request we are asking people to check on the most vulnerable. The elderly, those living alone, and those compromised by medical or social circumstances can experience severe weather in a much more harmful way than the rest of the community.”
For further advice and information please visit www.winterready.ie , listen to media for weather reports and updates and be aware that the adverse conditions are expected into the coming weekend.
Irish Red Cross on standby in advance of adverse weather conditions
The Irish Red Cross has been requested by the HSE to identify its vehicle resources – namely road ambulances, off-road ambulances and 4×4 vehicles on a county-by-county basis in advance of the onset of the “Beast from the East”. The charity was also asked to assess its volunteer availability to crew these vehicles.
These requests were made of the charity’s voluntary ambulance division at a meeting of the National Emergency Co-Ordination Group (NECG) today where similar requests have been made to other Irish voluntary emergency services.
Tony Lawlor, the Irish Red Cross’ National Director of Units said; “while both State and voluntary emergency bodies need to prepare for the ‘worst-case scenario’, the Irish Red Cross and other similar bodies have substantial experience in dealing with the expected conditions. The Irish Red Cross played a strong support role in the nationwide response to the heavy snow that fell in 2010 and 1982.”
The Irish Red Cross is an auxiliary to state statutory services in times of national emergency. During Storm Ophelia, 38 units of the Irish Red Cross were on standby across the country, a crucial measure given Irish Red Cross volunteers made 17 call-outs due to the extreme weather conditions. These call-outs saw volunteers transfer patients to hospital, and from hospital to nursing homes, while volunteers also facilitated transfers for essential hospital staff to work.
Ibec update on severe weather warnings
Ibec notes the severe weather warnings forecasted for the coming days. We encourage all businesses to assess the situation carefully and to develop appropriate contingency plans that put employee safety first and mitigate potential disruption. Over the coming days, Ibec will continue to monitor the situation and update members as appropriate.
11,433 Asthmatics in Clare urged to take precautions during the Beast from the East.
As the Beast from the East approaches The Asthma Society of Ireland is asking people affected by asthma to be conscious of the seasonal triggers that might worsen their asthma throughout the cold period. With 470,000 people affected, Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma worldwide. Approximately one person a week dies as a result of asthma, yet 90% of these deaths are preventable.
Kevin Kelly, Advocacy and Communications Manager at the Asthma Society of Ireland commented
“Fluctuating weather conditions, common colds, viral infections and flu can cause symptoms of asthma and can bring on an asthma attack, so it is important to use a reliever inhaler before going out on cold windy days and to wrap a scarf around your face to reduce the affect of the cold air.”
TIPS FOR MANAGING ASTHMA DURING WINTER
-Take your prescribed medication and have your inhaler with you at all times.
-It is important to use a reliever inhaler before going out in frosty, damp conditions
-On cold windy days wear a scarf over your nose and mouth – this will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in
-Take care to ensure that you don’t become over stressed and have effective ways of dealing with it
-Keep taking your medication regularly as prescribed in order to control symptoms
-Speak to your GP if asthma symptoms worsen at night or you are using your blue inhaler more than twice a week
-Take extra care when exercising in cold weather. Warm up for 10-15 minutes. Take two puffs of your reliever inhaler before you start
-If you are going on a winter holiday make sure you have enough medication with you to last the entire trip, and speak to your GP if you have any concerns about triggers at your destination
-Be aware that the following are common triggers for people with asthma at this time of year; Chest infections, sudden changes in temperature, cold / windy conditions
If you need advice contact our Asthma Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 and speak to an asthma nurse specialist about winter triggers.