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Preparing for the thaw

14/01/2010

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham today outlined action to deal with the latest weather situation and urged Scots to play their part in preparing for the thaw.

As temperatures are currently forecast to rise gradually, the risk of widespread flooding from the thaw remains low. However the Government will continuing to monitor the situation and will remain in close contact with local authorities to ensure drains are kept clear when clearing snow.

There are several things people themselves can do to cope with the thaw and prevent flooding in or near their home:

  • When moving snow and ice from pavements and paths, be careful to ensure it is not blocking drains.
  • If alternatives to grit, such as salt, cat litter and sand, have been used then clear up any residues left behind after the thaw as this could lead to drain blockages.
  • Burst pipes are a potential problem. If people experience a burst pipe in the home, turn off the stop valve immediately and open all cold taps to drain the system. Do not turn on the hot taps as the hot water cylinder may collapse if the pipes leading to it are frozen. If in any doubt call a licensed plumber.
  • Be aware that while roads and paths may be more accessible for most, vulnerable groups may still be wary of venturing outside, so continue to help the older or less able people in the community.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:

"Following a prolonged cold snap which has stretched our public services to the limit, I'd like thank all those working in local authorities and other agencies who have gone the extra mile to help communities cope with the severe weather.

"We are now preparing for the thaw which based on current forecast should not cause any major flooding. However we remain vigilant and are taking every step to prepare for any change in the forecast.

"Alongside this coordinated response, it is very important that individual householders and businesses consider the simple steps they can take to prepare for and deal with the thaw.

"Simple steps such as avoiding blocking drains when clearing snow from paths and pavements and sweeping up excess salt and sand to avoid residue causing overflows can all help to reduce potential impact of the thaw.

"Scotland has shown tremendous community spirit during the big freeze and we should all continue to do our bit to ensure we get through the big thaw too."

The Scottish Government will be providing advice to people across the country through a series of local newspaper and radio adverts, which start over the weekend.

Scottish Water provides advice to customers and details on how to contact a plumber. They also have a customer helpline 0845 601 8855 which people should contact if there is a burst water main.

SEPA's Floodline service provides 24 hours advice on flood risk - 0845 988 1188.

The Scottish Government resilience room remains open and local strategic coordinating groups are providing updates on potential flooding problems.

Local authorities have been briefed on the importance of ensuring drainage is clear and that piles of cleared snow are situated in areas that are vulnerable to flooding.

Scottish Water has trebled its staff resource dealing with problems of burst pipes and are working around the clock on repairs. Calls to their customer centre are currently running at around 4,500 a day - 2 to 3 times their daily level.