Arctic freeze brings hidden dangers – Safety tips for motorists

With heavy snow and ice predicted across all parts of the UK this weekend and into next week, The Royal Life Saving Society UK, Britain’s leading lifesaving and lifeguarding organisation, warns motorists to be extra vigilant in snow and bad weather and for parents to teach their children not to go on to frozen lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs under any circumstances. Media coverage has highlighted that many people are risking their lives by venturing onto frozen water.

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In winter, children and pets are particularly at risk when tempted to play on ice formed on open water during cold weather, and adults can find themselves at risk in attempting to save them. We advise that pets are kept on leads when near frozen water and owners refrain from throwing objects onto ice for them to retrieve.

With the onset of this spell of cold weather and snow The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), is issuing advice and guidance on staying safe when out near water in bad weather. Significant transport disruption is predicted across many parts of the UK and the RLSS UK is warning drivers to take extreme caution in areas affected by bad weather and snow.

Di Standley, chief executive of RLSS UK, said: “We are expecting a period of cold weather and snow and with this on the horizon we urge the public to be vigilant when travelling near water in bad weather. It’s vital not to underestimate the power of water. Everyone needs to be proactive and to learn about water safety to protect themselves and their loved ones.

If you absolutely have to travel in bad weather some quick tips to remember include: check the forecast before travelling and only travel in snow and bad weather if absolutely essential, and make sure you have a bad weather emergency kit in your car to include blankets, water, a torch and spare batteries, a first aid kit, some food and a warm drink in a flask.”

Every year more than 400 people lose their lives through accidental drowning and inland water accounts for 63 per cent of these deaths.

Safety Tips For Motorists

You should pay extra attention to planning your journey in bad weather.

Before travelling you should:

Check the weather forecast and road conditions

Consider whether you need to travel right now or if you can wait until the weather improves

Consider alternative routes

Consider alternative modes of transport

Allow extra time for your journey

Ensure that your vehicle is ready for a journey in poor weather

Carry an emergency bad weather kit

Consider whether you need to change your driving style to suit the weather or conditions

Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive

Before you set off on your journey:

It is vitally important to make sure your vehicle is adequately maintained and that brakes, tyres, lights, batteries, windscreens and wiper blades are in good condition.

Tyres are the only point of contact with the road and if they are worn or incorrectly inflated then they have less grip and can significantly increase stopping distances in the event of an emergency.

Tyres should also be checked for bulges, cuts or tears, which will weaken the tyre and potentially lead to a collision. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm but this is the legal minimum and it must be remembered that tyres perform more efficiently with a greater depth of tread.

Windows including the windscreen should be demisted and fully cleared of any frost, snow or ice.

Check that wiper blades are not worn and are capable of clearing the windscreen correctly.

Check brakes, lights, oil and washer fluid levels (add winter screen wash to your washer bottle to stop the water from freezing).

Preparing An Emergency Travel Kit:

Keep an emergency kit in the car to include the following items:

Ice scraper and de-icer.

Torch and spare batteries.

Warm clothes and a blanket.

A pair of boots.

First-aid kit.

Battery jump leads.

A shovel for snow.

Food and a warm drink in a flask.

Sunglasses in the glove box to help you see in low sun.

Make sure your mobile phone is charged fully.

For more information on water safety or how to join your local RLSS UK club, go to or call 01789 773994.

Each year The Royal Life Saving Society UK volunteers train approximately 1 million people in water safety, rescue techniques and life support, including 95 per cent of all pool and beach lifeguards.

Photo credit: dbtelford via photopin cc

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