Chairman of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning Mr Alan Shatter said last year’s campaign “informed the public of what is being done and where information can be sourced”.
The central message of this year’s campaign is simply to encourage people to be prepared, to stay safe and to know where to find help if you need it.”
Minister Shatter reminded those attending of the harsh winter of 2010. He said it will be “long remembered as the year of severe cold,” in comparison with the mild winter last year.
“This demonstrates the unpredictability of Irish weather and the need to be prepared but I must emphasise that severe weather events in Ireland are not common place,” added Minister Shatter who then cited Met Éireann saying that they predict severe winter occurrences every ten years.
With this in mind, “central and local government are better prepared and ready to respond to incidents of severe weather,” claimed Minister Shatter. The minister assured all that emergency weather plans are in place and are tested and updated regularly, and added that local authorities also have ‘Winter Maintenance Plans’ in place for the coming winter.
The government plans rely heavily on active members of 4,469 Volunteer groups that assist Gardaí, Local Authorities and the HSE countrywide. The insufficient supplies of salt for treating roads has been addressed, according to Minister Shatter. He said “Sufficient resources are also being provided this winter, including supplies of salt to treat roads. At the start of this winter 210,000 (130,000 in 2010) tonnes of salt will be available and are strategically located across the country.”
In total, normal winter maintenance covers around 18,000km (18 per cent) of our 96,000 km road system.
National Roads Authority (NRA)
Commenting on the initiative the NRA say that the purpose of the campaign is to advise people how to prepare for winter. They advise that if severe weather strikes, it is important to check if there are any problems on your intended route, before setting out on a journey.
You need to ask yourself, “Is your journey absolutely necessary?” If the answer is no, then you might consider delaying your trip until the weather and road conditions improve. If however, you need to journey out, remember, using the roads in such conditions you need to be prepared. “The golden rule is to drive, cycle or walk with care and caution and expect the unexpected,” say the NRA.
Is your vehicle ready for winter?
Make sure your vehicle is winter roadworthy. “Don’t get caught out when severe weather strikes,” say the NRA. Who have some useful tips on their website www.nra.ie to make sure your vehicle is winter safe, such as check for wear and tear on wiper blades and replace them as soon as they start to smear rather than clean windows.
The booklet, ‘Be Winter-Ready’ can be downloaded from the website www.winterready.ie
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