Safety urged for this winter

The Government has launched a ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign to ensure people are prepared for extreme weather.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney, Transport Minister Shane Ross, and Minister for Flood Prevention Sean Canney launched the awareness campaign.

Last year, and into this year, areas across the country were battered by strong winds and heavy flooding for many months, and this cost the State €100m.

Minister of state Paul Kehoe said this year’s campaign was focused on flooding and safe driving.

He said volunteers and community groups could make sure elderly people and the vulnerable are protected during cold spells and storms.

“Community resilience is vitally important in dealing with severe and major emergencies,” he said. “The key to any successful campaign is communication and co-ordination.”

The campaign booklet provides advice on flooding, road safety, farm safety, schools, and severe weather, and provides information for the elderly and their neighbours. It also contains emergency contact numbers.

Motorists are being advised to get their car serviced, and to make sure the car’s lights are working and that levels of oil and water are correct.

Drivers are also being told to check routes before departing on journeys and to have water and emergency equipment in their car.

Mr Ross warned that there has been a spike of 23% in road deaths this year, or 31 fatalities more than in 2015.

“I think it’s very disturbing. The fact that they are up 23% is something we have to worry about.”

Mr Ross said the number of cars on the road was increasing as the economy recovered, but the number of fatalities that involved alcohol was also increasing.

Mr Coveney said he had brought a report to cabinet this week on the lessons learned from last year’s severe weather and said that the OPW were looking at short- and long-term prevention projects.

Some of this work was outlined by Mr Canney, who said there had been “significant investment” and “Ireland is now more prepared than ever to tackle flooding”.

He added: “Since last winter, OPW accelerated its resources to complete a major flood-defence scheme. This year, there are a record 12 major schemes at construction stage and a further 23 at design stage.”

Met Éireann forecaster, Gerald Fleming, said it was impossible to predict long-term weather, but he added that there was “noting particularly unusual” expected for November.

“I think, every year, we have to emphasise that the science of weather forecasting is such — in this part of the world — that forecasting a season ahead is really an impossible business.”

The ‘Be Winter Ready’ information booklet is available in both Irish and English, on www.winterready.ie.


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