Advice for coping with heavy snow & ice

In recent years across most of the UK, heavy snow and ice has caused school closures, road closures, interrupted rail travel, disrupted basic facilities and damaged property. Here below are some simple guidelines to help you and others prepare for severe winter weather. You should also listen to your local radio station or news channel for latest alerts and updates.

Clearing snow and the Snow Code

You should not be put off clearing paths yourself because you're afraid someone will get injured. There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home and it's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves.

The Snow Code

  • Clear the snow or ice early in the day - it's easier to move fresh, loose snow rather than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it.
  • Move the snow onto porous surface such as a grass verge or garden or along the kerb away from the drains.
  • Do not move snow to a location where it will create another risk such as another part of the pavement, road or where people are likely to walk.
  • Cover the cleared path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight.
  • Use salt or sand - not water - you can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt - a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work.

Useful equipment required for the task of snow clearance

  • A snow shovel or snow pusher (or a hard edged shovel for compacted ice).
  • Suitable footwear (use ice studs or crampons for extra grip).
  • Wear hi visibility clothing if working along roadsides.
  • A bucket to collect, store and move grit.
  • Salt, sand or grit (to stop the surfaces from refreezing).


The cold weather can affect different members of the community in different ways, some are more vulnerable to the elements than others, especially the elderly who are prone to hypothermia and pneumonia in cold weather.

To support older people during periods of heavy snow and ice please consider the following:

  • Be even more vigilant during the period of severe weather, and to keep an eye out for people who may be vulnerable.
  • Try to call in regularly on friends, neighbours and relatives to see if they need help staying warm or getting provisions.
  • Offer to clear your neighbours' paths & check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in the cold weather.
  • Stuck at home due to the snow?
  • Ask your boss if you can use the day to volunteer locally.
  • Plumber? Tree surgeon? First-aider? Your skills are really valuable - why not offer to help and register with your local parish council.
  • Be alert - help keep people off frozen streams and ponds.

Voluntary Organisations & Further Information

Several organisations are available to assist you or your neighbours in the event of severe weather. Each offer specific advice & guidance regarding severe weather:

  • The Red Cross provide advice on how to cope with hypothermia, frostbite and falls and tumbles on their website. Visit for more information and guidance.
  • Keep warm, keep well - advice from the NHS on the best ways of keeping yourself well during the winter. Visit
  • Volunteering - how to get involved. Visit
  • Anyone concerned about older neighbours should call the Age Concern helpline on 0800 00 99 66, or visit
  • If travelling in severe weather visit the Highways Agency for up to date information and advice. Visit