Take the chill out of winter with a bit of preparation

GETTING prepared for winter is something every local resident should now be thinking about with cooler weather creeping in.

Notorious for being the cold, wet months of the year, winter can be cruel and bitter but State Emergency Service (SES) Illawarra South Coast Region has a range of tips to help people prepare for the worst.

SES Illawarra South Coast Region acting deputy Alex McFadden said it’s best to prepare for stormy weather early.

“Sunny autumn days are when people should use their time wisely and prepare for winter storms properly,” Ms McFadden said.

“This is the time you should check your gutters for weeds, leaves, remove any blockages and trim low hanging branches.

“If there are issues concerning trees which need to be removed contact your local council.

“Make sure you have an emergency kit with first aid supplies, torches, batteries, medication and important documents.

“It’s always good to be prepared for anything.”

Ms McFadden said it was worth learning the difference between storms and floods, as people are often confused by the two, which can cause panic if there is heavy rain, which often doesn’t lead to flooding.

“Storms and floods are two different things,” she said.

“The Shoalhaven does have a history of floods with the Shoalhaven River when there is continuous, heavy rainfall and it did flood last year.

“People can prepare for floods too, by doing things such as making sure outdoor furniture is brought in and it is a good idea to keep an eye on the weather and pay attention to local media.”

Home owners can check with the local SES unit for flood information and contact the local council for information on how floods can affect your property.

Ms McFadden said it was wise to make an emergency escape plan and the SES website offered information to help people to prepare their plan.

Winter months are often the perfect time to prepare your home for the coming bushfire season.

Rural Fire Service Shoalhaven superintendent district manager Mark Williams said the RFS is always happy to advise on how to stay fire-safe any time of the year.

“Now is the time to do a few household checks for your safety,” he said.

“This is a good time to change the battery in smoke detectors and ensure you have a working one in the house,” Mr Williams said.

“A general check around the house is essential including an inspection or clean-out of fire places in case of blockages.

“Check electrical equipment such as electric blankets for frayed cords and heaters for correct operation.”

Mr Williams said electric blankets and open flame candles caused the RFS a lot of concern in winter months.

He said it was important people turned electric blankets off when unattended and did not fall asleep with them on.

“It’s important to ensure open flame candles are kept away from other combustible material and away from children,” he said.

“Now is also a really good time to prepare for the next fire season and make sure trees are pruned back and grass and weeds are kept low as it is easier to work outdoors in the cooler months,” he said.

Excess pollution from fireplaces is one thing to keep in mind according to the Shoalhaven City Council.

Council’s website offers tips on reducing wood smoke in your home.

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