West Berkshire Council

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See a summary of our Local Outbreak Control Plan and read our frequently asked questions. 

Preparing for Winter

Advice to help you during the winter 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 [1Mb] 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

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 could 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 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, it can 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 provide some useful information to protect your pipes this winter.

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 on image 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 flood warnings from the Environment Agency if you live in a flood prone area - this can help you gain early warning of any impending problems.

The Flood Protection Association 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 provide information regarding gritting and snow clearance routes to help you plan your journey, and keep 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!

Highways England, the RAC and AA 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 [3Mb].

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