Are you ready to face worst of the winter?

Royal Observatory estates assistant Bruce Young clears the snow this morning.
Royal Observatory estates assistant Bruce Young clears the snow this morning.

You may have de-icer in the car and a snow shovel somewhere in the garage, but will you be ready if winter arrives with a vengeance this year?

In the past few days, agencies, authorities and charities have all urged the public to be properly prepared for whatever winter throws at us in 2014.

Those in charge of trying to keep us safe have warned against complacency – especially after last year’s relatively mild winter.

This week saw the launch of the Scottish Government’s ‘Ready for Winter?’ campaign, designed to remind people that a harsh winter may come without warning.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “The unpredictability of weather patterns means we cannot simply hope that we miss the worst of it.

“While we can’t stop the weather causing disruption, we can be well prepared to cope with it.

“We can all get ready: in the home, before a journey, at our workplace and in our communities.”

A Scottish Government-commissioned survey found that 40 per cent of Scots polled said they were concerned about emergencies caused by treacherous weather conditions, down from almost half of those questioned a year ago.

And nine of the ten car owners questioned felt they were prepared for an emergency because they had an ice-scraper and de-icer.

But the message from the Government, which is working with the British Red Cross on the campaign, is that preparing now can save time and worry later.

Tips include collecting items that will be useful in an emergency, keeping a battery-operated radio and list of contact numbers, and ensuring you have salt, grit and a shovel.

Suggestions also include offering to help vulnerable people with tasks like shopping or shovelling snow or clearing paths and driveways.

Falkirk Council is also issuing its winter advice.

The local authority wants residents to have important phone numbers handy, look out for neighbours and take care when shovelling snow.

Councillor Craig Martin, leader of Falkirk Council, said: “Being prepared is the most useful thing anyone can do in advance of disruptive weather and conditions.

“Our website – – carries important information, from preparing your vehicle to being a good neighbour to elderly neighbours.

“We don’t yet know what this winter will bring but taking a few minutes now to prepare might prove to be very useful in the future.”

Staying healthy is also more of a challenge during the winter months.

The cold weather means we are less likely to exercise, and many of us find ourselves struck down by coughs, colds and sore throats.

But health chiefs say that by making better use of pharmacies, we could help ease the demand on hospitals and emergency departments.

As Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on a Thursday this year, GP practices will be closed for four consecutive days, two weeks in a row.

Medics suggest stocking up on essential medicines to treat common conditions.

A spokesman said: “Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is very common in winter.

“It is best to avoid visiting anyone in hospital if you feel unwell. If you have diarrhoea and vomiting wait at least 48 hours after these symptoms have stopped before visiting.”