West Berkshire Council

Extreme Cold

Advice to help you during the colder months

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. 

Planning ahead

The Met Office website provides weather forecasts and weather alerts for your area to help you plan for bad weather.

The Environment Agency also 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 disease.

Our Public Health and Wellbeing team have produced some key pdf icon cold weather messages [2Mb] to be aware of, and doc icon Cold weather messages for children and parents [23kb].  You may also find these Keep Warm, Keep Well leaflets useful.

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


Sources of help

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: Central Heating Grants  for more info

COVID-19 Hardship Fund

  • If you are in financial hardship due to the pandemic you may be  eligible for support for food, utility bills, water bills for household  purposes (including drinking, washing, cooking, central heating, sewerage and sanitary purposes), or other related essentials. The COVID Winter Grant Scheme will run from 1 December 2020 to 31 March 2021. For further info on the grant and how to apply visit: Coronavirus Support

Green Homes Grant

  • You may be able to apply for a grant of up to £10,000 towards the cost of making your home more energy-efficient. For details visit: Gov.uk - Green Homes Grant

Some vulnerable people can be registered as "priority users" of some utilities; this means that the companies will take care of these people and prioritise recovery efforts to help them if their services are interrupted for any reason.

You can register with:


Helping your community

Winter weather can affect anywhere, but some areas find it harder to cope than others. It could be that you live in a flood risk area or you live or work in a rural location, and are reliant on our gritting schedule on country roads when they're impacted by snow and ice.

Not only can winter weather cause transport disruption or make access to shops, businesses and workplaces difficult, but it can also isolate the less mobile and elderly members of our community.

The Met Office - Getting communities ready for winter provides useful information to plan how best you can look out for, and support, your neighbours. 

Creating an emergency plan also helps to prepare for how you can help to support the less able members of your community.


Protecting your home

In the past, 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 - they can expand and burst. Thames Water provides some useful information to Thames Water - What to do if your pipes freeze.

We grit many primary and secondary routes across our road network - you can see where and when we've been gritting online. We've also produced some advice onimage icon avoiding trips and falls [75kb] on icy pavements/roads and doc icon Car Stopping Distances Reminder [81kb] regarding stopping distances.



The first step to being prepared is to check whether you live in a flood risk area. If you do, it's worth considering additional protective measures to prevent your home from flooding.

You can sign up for the Gov.uk - sign up for flood warnings if you live in a flood-prone area - this can help you gain early warning of any impending problems.

The PCA Flood Protection Group is a good place to start. They can put you in touch with an independent consultant who can create a flood survey of your property. This survey will provide impartial recommendations on flood resistance measures to help protect your home and belongings.

More information on ways to anticipate and deal with flood risk can be found in the 'Homeowners Guide to Flood Resilience' - you can download a copy through the 'Know Your Flood Risk' campaign website.

Our Flood Risk Management webpage also gives some information about previous incidents of flooding in West Berkshire and offers some technical advice to help you consider whether you need to take specific action to protect your home.

For information and advice about flood prevention and preparation take a look at our leaflet - pdf icon "Flooding - Be Prepared!" [4Mb].


High winds

When high winds are forecast, remember that everyday items left outside can become 'missiles' and 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.


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 provides a variety of useful tips and links about winter travel. West Berkshire Council also provides information regarding gritting and snow clearance routes to help you plan your journey and keeps you up to date with any planned transport disruption. Most public transport operators also provide websites that let you 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 - Advice about driving in winter and The AA - Advice for seasonal driving also provide really useful tips to help prepare your vehicle for travel during winter months and to find the safest, most suitable route to your destination.

You can read more about what West Berkshire Council does to deal with winter weather on our roads in the pdf icon Winter Plan [9Mb].


Staying safe

Winter offers some opportunities to thieves and for other types of crime. Thames Valley Police suggest a few simple measures to reduce the chances of you being a victim of crime.

Our crime and safety webpages also have some information you might find useful.

Who To Contact