The Beast Beckons

Region Braces for Big Freeze

WATERFORD City & County Council is well-prepared for this week’s ‘Beast from the East’, according to the Chief Executive of the local authority.
Met Éireann have issued a ‘Status Yellow’ warning for many counties, including Waterford, as well as a low temperature warning for the entire country with temperatures expected to drop to minus five degrees Celsius overnight.Air and ground temperatures are expected to be five to 10 degrees below normal, with significant wind chill and penetrating severe frosts. As the country gears up for an exceptionally cold week, Waterford City & County Council CEO Michael Walsh explained that the Council’s Crisis Management Team met yesterday (Monday) morning but has been receiving advice since last Thursday and Friday from Met Éireann.

Waterford is bracing itself for its worst wintry conditions since 1982.  								| Photo: Noel Browne

Waterford is bracing itself for its worst wintry conditions since 1982. | Photo: Noel Browne

“We’ll have continual updates from the National Co-ordination Centre and we’ll be ensuring that all of our resources are available and are in place,” he said.
Along with road salting, Mr Walsh said snow ploughs will be used if required.
“We’ll be doing our very best to keep all of the main routes free,” he said.He said local authorities are generally better set up now than in previous years in terms of equipment and machinery. “It’s not that long ago that people will recall Council personnel shovelling grit off the back of lorries, whereas now we have significant equipment on top of a significant investment that has been made for handling situations like this,” he said.
“But we can only deal with primary traffic routes in our towns and villages, and then the national and regional roads in the first instance because they have to be the priority as they carry the greatest volumes of people and traffic.”

): With a significant cold snap forecast for this Thursday and Friday, Mr Walsh expressed his hope that the conditions will not linger any longer than expected.
“We’re planning accordingly. We certainly hope it doesn’t become a longer, enduring event after Thursday and Friday but that’s up to the almighty and the weather. But, either way, we’ll be meeting as a group and liaising with our colleagues at both regional and national level over the next few days to ensure we’re doing the best we can.”
Met Éireann is reminding people to check in on those living alone and to allow extra time for journeys this week.
Danette Connolly, Director of Care with Home Instead Waterford, says that there are some useful tips and practices that can be put in place to ensure senior relatives, friends and neighbours stay warm, safe and cared for during the cold spell.
“We have a duty of care to our ageing parents, grandparents and neighbours and by looking after their interests this winter we can help alleviate the hardship that comes with a particularly severe weather spell,” she said. “Please check in on seniors over the coming days and ensure they are prepared. Make sure the house is well stocked with the essentials, such as batteries for the smoke alarm, medicines, particularly repeat prescriptions and plenty of tinned fruit and veg and non-perishables such as pasta and rice, so they don’t have to venture out in the cold.”Ms. Connolly advised that encouraging senior relatives to wear several thin layers of clothes, instead of one heavy layer and to keep all internal windows and door closed to keep heat in, will keep them warmer longer throughout the day.

“It is crucial that seniors eat regular hot meals, as the body keeps warm by burning the food we eat,” she said.“Porridge is an excellent source of nutrients, it’s quick and easy to prepare and fuels the body for hours.”Other tips include: de-icing pathways of snow and ice using salt or sand; clearing pathways of wet leaves, which pose a trip hazard; keeping all emergency/contact numbers close at hand; block draughts and keep curtains closed at night to retain heat; ensure electrical devices are unplugged at night. Ms Connolly continued: “Please make an extra effort to call in on an older relative or neighbour. If they are dependent on solid fuels for heating, bring a bale of briquettes or a bag of coal. Doing a grocery shop is also helpful and practical as they will have all the essentials at hand to get through the next few days.”
She added: “If you are concerned about the welfare of a senior family relative or neighbour, visit or call Home Instead Senior Care on 051-333966. Home Instead Senior Care can provide advice on the best solutions to looking after our seniors.”

Employers are reminded to consider the potential impact as a result of employees being unable to attend their place of work this week and are being encouraged to consider how alternative work practices could minimise disruption.Meanwhile, the ISPCA is encouraging people to keep pets safe and warm during the cold spell.
“Consider bringing your dog for more frequent shorter walks to avoid being outside in the cold for too long. Also, it is important to bring any outside dogs indoors in very cold and wet conditions,” said ISPCA Public Relations Manager Carmel Murray. “It is important you dry your pet’s skin and paws thoroughly after a walk, and don’t forget in between the toes! Salt can cause sores to their foot pads and de-icing chemicals are very dangerous if ingested so make sure you remove all residue from their paws. If you think your pet has ingested any chemicals like anti-freeze, please contact your vet immediately.”

While indoor-only cats will be affected very little by the cold weather, she says outdoor cats will certainly be feeling the chill this week. “Cats are great at finding warm spots to sleep, but sometimes these can be dangerous, like under the hood of a car so make sure to check your car for sleeping kitties before you drive. You could also provide a clean, dry outdoor shelter with bedding for them to use during the day. When your cat comes in from outside, wipe them down to take off excess water, salt, or grit, and make sure they don’t have any anti-freeze on their paws.”Meanwhile, Ms Murray pointed out that horses, ponies and donkeys will also need good shelter, for example a warm stable or purpose built field shelter, and has reminded people to check water feeders daily to ensure drinking water has not frozen.
She added: “It is also important to look after our wildlife too so please leave out some fresh drinking water and suitable food for them. Helping garden birds can be as rewarding for you as it is for them. By using bird tables and handing feeders with seeds and grains such as nyjer, millet, oats and sunflower seeds, you can bring wild birds right up to your window!”

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