Emergency Management

Adverse Weather and Flooding

Many of the recent emergencies that the UK has faced have been related to adverse weather conditions. This has included flooding, gales, snow, freezing conditions and heat waves. The result of these incidents has resulted in people being evacuated from their homes, being stranded in freezing conditions and additional deaths due to heat waves. Weather is therefore something for us all to take seriously as we go about our daily business.

The Island has experienced several cases of adverse weather over the past few years; the widespread flooding due to a combination of prolonged heavy rainfall and severe gales generating river flooding, tidal surges and spring tides in the winter of 2013/2014 and the unusual event of snow fall on the Island in January 2010, seriously affecting the Island’s community and businesses for a number of days during.

The information provided here should help with advice and also where to find additional useful information regarding dealing with adverse weather on the Island.

The Met Office will put out warnings regarding severe weather and this can be found on their website and can be heard on the radio and TV.

The information from the Met Office includes Regional Flash Warnings of Severe or Extreme weather that is expected to cause immediate disruption. Advance warnings are issued when severe weather is expected to cause widespread disruption over the next few days.

The Met Office gives some very useful advice about measures that can be taken before, during and after periods of most types of severe weather. For further information, please visit the met office website.

The Met Office’s campaign ‘Are you Weather Ready?’, run in partnership with Cabinet Office, aims to help the public be better prepared for severe weather – throughout the winter and beyond.

The Met Office’s Weather Ready website www.metoffice.gov.uk/WeatherReady has plenty of weather-related advice from expert partners to help people prepare for the potential impacts of severe weather on their home, health and wellbeing and families this winter.

Keep Warm Keep Well is a national campaign to reduce cold-related illness and deaths during the winter. To download the guide and view guidance on what financial support is available and how to prepare for cold weather, please visit the GOV.UK website .

The National Health Service offer many services and information to combat and deal with the adverse affects to our health brought on during the cold winter months.

Snow and freezing conditions

The climate on the Island is such that we rarely experience heavy snow falls, but frosty and freezing conditions can make our island roads and pathways treacherous.

The Isle of Wight Council provides updates on it's website giving advice on Winter Driving conditions and also via the Councils social media channels. View the councils social media channels.

The Isle of Wight Council determines which roads are treated in freezing weather. The Council’s focus is on the Island’s key routes as it is not practical or economical to salt every road. To find information regarding the salting of roads and the routes that are being treated, please visit the Island Roads website. Island Roads delivers this service, commissioned by the Council as part of the Highways PFI contract.

The Met Office gives advice on actions to be considered in heavy snow and ice together with a link to travel information. For further information, please visit the met office website .

Storms and gales

How to protect yourself and your property in the event of a major storm

The two main dangers of a winter storm are exposure to the cold and car accidents. The best way to survive a storm is to plan ahead and keep yourself out of danger by staying at home. Watch or listen to reliable weather reports and heed the advice being broadcast.

Preparation to consider before a storm:

  • Secure loose objects such as ladders, garden furniture or anything else that could be blown into windows and other glazing and break them.
  • Close and securely fasten doors and windows, particularly those on the windward side of the house, and especially large doors such as those on garages.
  • Park vehicles in a garage, if available; otherwise keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls and fences.
  • Close and secure loft trapdoors with bolts, particularly if roof pitch is less than 30°.
  • If the house is fitted with storm shutters over the windows then ensure that these are closed and fastened.
  • If chimney stacks are tall and in poor condition, move beds away from areas directly below them.

 

During the storm:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • If you do go out, try not to walk or shelter close to buildings and trees.
  • Keep away from the sheltered side of boundary walls and fences — if these structures fail, they will collapse on this side.
  • Do not go outside to repair damage while the storm is in progress.
  • If possible, enter and leave your house through doors in the sheltered side, closing them behind you.
  • Open internal doors only as needed, and close them behind you.
  • Take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges, or high open roads, delay your journey or find alternative routes if possible.
  • Slow down and be aware of side winds, particular care should be taken if you are towing or are a high sided vehicle.
  • Do not drive unless your journey is really necessary.

 

After the storm:

  • Be careful not to touch any electrical/telephone cables that have been blown down or are still hanging.
  • Do not walk too close to walls, buildings and trees as they could have been weakened.
  • Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them make arrangements for any repairs.

 

The Met Office website offers advice on being prepared and protecting your property against forecasted severe gales

Flooding

The most common sources of flooding are:

  • Fluvial flooding which occurs when a watercourse cannot cope with the water draining into it from the surrounding land primarily around rivers. This can happen, for example, when heavy rain falls on an already waterlogged catchment.

  • Coastal flooding that results from a combination of high tides and stormy conditions. If low atmospheric pressure coincides with a high tide, a tidal surge may happen which can cause serious flooding.

  • Surface water flooding (or pluvial flooding) which occurs when heavy rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of the local area. It is difficult to predict and pinpoint, much more so than river or coastal flooding.

 

If there are any reports of serious incidents of flooding the Emergency Management Team will co-ordinate the Council’s response and liaise with the Fire & Rescue Service and the Environment Agency.

It is not the Council’s responsibility to protect individual homes or businesses, householders and business owners need to take responsibility for their own property.

Prepare for flooding

Prepare for flooding by following some simple steps. Sign up for free flood warnings via the Environment agency (link and information below), find out ways to reduce the impact of flooding to your home and make a flood plan.

Download your personal flood plan template (website).

Download a flood plan pack for communities and groups (website).

Advice for businesses on how they prepare for flooding, provided on the GOV.UK website.

You can obtain information from the following guides and links to various websites giving advice in ensuring that you are prepared to deal with flooding.

Look on the Environment Agency’s web site Flooding page to find out if your area is at risk from flooding and advice on how to protect your property.

Sign up online for Floodline Warnings Direct Floodline Warnings Direct  it is a free service that provides flood warnings direct to you by telephone, mobile text or email. You can also sign up for Floodline Warnings Direct by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Resilience Forum has produced a Multi Agency Flood Response Plan which provides a framework for managing the response to floods across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

View the plan hosted on Hampshire County Council's website (PDF, 2MB, 131 pages).

Provision of sandbags

It is not the Council’s responsibility to protect individual homes or businesses, householders and business owners need to take responsibility for their own property.

In some emergency situations, the Isle of Wight Council will instruct Island Roads to position stocks of sandbags at the following strategic locations:

  • Well Road, East Cowes.
  • Simeon Street Rec, Ryde.
  • St Mary's car park, Cowes.

Additional sandbag locations may be identified around the Island based upon the forecast impacts of flooding and in areas where the Environment Agency has advised that there is a potential risk of flooding

In instances such as these the additional locations will be issued through Island Roads’ website and twitter account.

Access Island Road’s website.

Access Island Road’s twitter page.

Information on the flood alerts and warnings issued by the Environment Agency will be issued through the Council's website, facebook and twitter accounts.

Access the Council's updates on it's website.

Access the Council's facebook page.

Access the Council's twitter page.

Public Health England has produced some health advice for the public affected by flooding which is available on their website.

 

Unused sandbags

Wherever possible, store full bags that have not come into contact with flood water in a dry shady place to use again if you need them in the future.

Sacking material is normally biodegradable and will perish if left in place for a long time. It is therefore advisable to empty sacks and keep them dry for re-use. Store the sand in your garden, or yard for future use.  If you do not want to store the sand or the bags, once empty the bags can be placed in your normal household waste and the sand dug into the garden if you have one, or taken to your local Civic Amenity site.

 

Used sandbags

Sandbags tend to retain contaminants such as sewage and oils when they come into contact with floodwater. Ensure you wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly after handling. 

If sandbags are contaminated by flood water you should take them to your local Civic Amenity Site and inform the staff that they have been contaminated. Where this is not possible you should seek advice from your local authority as to whether any other options are available to dispose of the sandbags.  Do not place full sandbags or the sand in your household waste. Do not allow children to play with the sand or place it in sand pits due to the risks from possible contamination.

If in doubt, contact your local authority environmental health department for advice and the location of your nearest Civic Amenity Site.

The following classification guide should be used to identify whether or not sandbags are contaminated.

Used sandbags are not classified as contaminated if:

  • Deployed to retain surface water / ground water, which has had no or short term and limited exposer to sewage.
  • Do not smell of sewage or oil.
  • Shows no visual signs of being contaminated by sewage or oil.

 

Used sandbags are to be classified as contaminated if:

  • Deployed to retain raw sewage.
  • Deployed to protect / retain sources of oil.
  • Deployed to retain surface water / ground water, which has had continual exposure to sewage or oils. 
  • Smells of sewage or oil.
  • Shows visual signs of being contaminated by sewage or oil.

 

If there has been widespread flooding across the Island and large quantities of sandbags have been deployed then the council may arrange for the collection of used sandbags from specific collection points. If this is the case then the council will provide details to the public on where and when collections will be undertaken.

Other useful websites on flooding

The Isle of Wight Local Flood Risk Management Strategy web pages provide a high-level overview of the potential flood hazard from all sources of flooding (tidal, river, surface water, sewer and groundwater), and identifies a co-ordinated approach to managing these hazards where the greatest impacts are likely to occur. The aim of the strategy is to better understand, communicate and manage the risk of flooding on the Island through viable, sustainable and co-ordinated approaches for the benefit of local communities, property, land and the environment, both now and in the future.

The National Flood Forum  is a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding. The National Flood Forum provide an independent directory of flood protection products and services as well as advice and guidance on how to go about getting insurance and reducing premiums/excess.

Heatwave

Heat and Sun – Enjoy the sun safely

Whilst many of us enjoy the sun and hot weather, we need to make sure that we do so safely and remember that some groups of people are more vulnerable than others to the effects of heat. Young children and older people are particularly at risk. Overexposure to sun is dangerous with effects ranging from mild sunburn to skin cancer. It doesn’t have to be hot for the UV index to be high.

Before a heatwave:

  • Ensure you have plenty of cold fluids available.

 

During a heatwave:

  • Try to keep your house cool, closing blinds or curtains can help.
  • At night, keep your sleeping area well ventilated. Night cooling is important as it allows the body to recuperate.
  • Try to stay cool by taking cool showers or baths and/or sprinkle yourself several times a day with cold water.
  • Avoid too much exercise, which can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and can even be fatal. Watch for signs of heat stress – an early sign of fatigue.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but NOT alcohol, which dehydrates the body.
  • Try to eat as you normally would. Not eating properly may exacerbate health-related problems.
  • If driving, keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness. Take plenty of water with you and have regular rest breaks.
  • If you have elderly neighbours who may be at risk during a heatwave, try to visit them daily.
  • If you do go out, try and avoid the hottest part of the day (11:00 – 15:00hrs) and seek shade where possible. Avoid being in the sun for long stretches.

 

Before going out in the sun:

  • Check you have appropriate sun cream for your particular type of skin.

 

During sunny weather:

  • The UV index (the strength of the sun) can be high at many times of the year – it doesn’t have to be hot. The UV index can be strong through cloud even when the sun isn’t directly shining.
  • If you go out, wear lightweight, light coloured clothing, high factor sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat.
  • Avoid being in the sun for long stretches.
  • Reapply an appropriate factor sun cream at regular intervals during the day.

 

Do not leave children or animals in parked cars. Even on cool days, strong sunshine can make car interiors very hot.

Information and advice on the hazards of heatwave is given in the leaflet linked below produced by the Department of Health. It includes information on how to recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, together with guidance for dealing with extreme heat.

To access the guide 'Looking after yourself and others in hot weather' (PDF, 192KB, 7 pages).

NHS factsheets are available for health and social care professionals supporting vulnerable people and particularly those that visit people in their homes together with a factsheet giving advice to managers and staff of residential and nursing care homes, where people are particularly at risk during hot weather.

Access the factsheet  'Advice for care home managers and staff' (PDF, 217KB, 14 pages).

Access the factsheet 'Advice for health and social care professionals' (PDF, 233KB, 18 pages).

There is a comprehensive and detailed Heatwave Plan for England produced by the Department of Health offering excellent advice and guidance. The plan’s purpose is to raise both public and professional awareness in the event of a heatwave. To access the Heatwave Plan for England and its associated documents, please the visit GOV.UK website.

Heat-Health watch service

This is a service run by the Met Office in conjunction with the Department of Health to help alert people to the health problems associated with high temperatures during the summer months.

It operates from 1 June to 15 September each year. During this period, the Met Office will alert a number of organisations including the Local Authority and medical professionals about the potential for extreme hot weather.

The "Heat-Health watch" system comprises four levels of response. It is based on threshold maximum day and night-time temperatures as defined by the Met Office. The threshold for the South East region is 31°C by day and 16°C overnight. These temperatures could have significant effect on health if reached on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night.

There are four different levels of response as below:

Level 1 - Awareness (Green) - the minimum state of vigilance during the summer.

Level 2 – Alert and readiness (Yellow) - triggered as soon as the risk is 60% or above for threshold temperatures being reached in one or more regions on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night.

Level 3 - Heat wave action (Amber) - triggered as soon as the Met Office confirms threshold temperatures will be reached in one or more regions. Heatwaves can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases.

Level 4 – Emergency (Red) - reached when a heat wave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. Stay out of the sun. Keep your home as cool as possible. Keep drinking fluids.

For further information and up to date weather forecasting, view the Heat-Health Watch section on the Met Office Website .

Advice can also be obtained from NHS Direct website on Heat wave alerts.