SB Connect Winter 2016

Let’s get prepared

The Council and local communities are gearing up to respond to whatever winter throws at us

The Scottish Borders experienced an incredibly wet winter in 2015/16 which resulted in severe flooding and wind damage, and the Council is prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us this winter.

To help residents this winter, this pull-out guide provides key contact information and advice on how to prepare for winter and stay safe during any severe weather.

SB Alert

The free messaging system SB Alert is a vital tool for the Council and key partners, including Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, to get important information to residents and businesses quickly, including on weather warnings, road closures, evacuations and utility failures, and proved invaluable last winter.

Alerts can be provided by phone, text or email and the type of alert received can be chosen when signing up at www.sbalert.co.uk

Roads information

In severe weather the advice will always be to travel only if absolutely necessary and to drive to the conditions.

Only when the Council’s Emergency Planning Centre is in operation will local roads information be provided by the Council, via the website and social media.

Outwith these times it is best to listen to your local radio station for the latest roads information.

Trunk roads information is provided by Traffic Scotland – www.trafficscotland.org

Road closures

Never ignore a ‘Road Closed’ sign. This not only puts yourself in danger but potentially also diverts the emergency services from real emergencies and puts them at risk too.

Winter roads service

The Council is responsible for almost 3,000km of roads across the area and has a defined primary network for winter maintenance. Information on gritting routes is available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/wintertravel

Transport Scotland is responsible for the trunk road network, with Amey contracted to carry out winter maintenance in south-east Scotland.

This includes the A1, the A68 north of the Carter Bar, the A7 from Kingsknowes roundabout, Galashiels to the border and the A6091 from the Ravenswood roundabout at Leaderfoot to Kingsknowes roundabout.

To report issues on trunk roads visit scottishtrunkroadsse.amey.co.uk or Amey’s Twitter account – @SETrunkRoads

Footpaths

Gritting of footpaths will be carried out in a planned response to weather conditions, with footpaths in main shopping areas and busy urban areas and routes to schools and medical centres prioritised.

SBC encourages householders and businesses to help themselves by clearing snow and ice from public areas near their properties and assist neighbours who may not be able to do this themselves.

Grit bins

There are 1050 grit bins located across the region. All these locations have been determined by a risk-
based evaluation process to ensure they are placed where they are most needed.

SBC is not able to have a grit bin on every street, but will consider requests for grit bins from the public should they meet the relevant criteria.

Requests can be logged online at www.scotborders.gov.uk/gritting or by calling 0300 100 1800.
Grit bins are checked on a regular basis through the winter and are refilled as soon as possible.

Schools in winter

In severe weather, or when this is forecast, it may be necessary for the Council to cancel school transport, invoke the Resilient Schools protocol or even close schools. Transport operators also have complete discretion to cancel or vary a route given the local weather conditions.

These decisions are not taken lightly and are only made in the interests of safety and are communicated to parents via the Groupcall system, through the SBC website, social media and local media.

More information on what happens when Resilient Schools is invoked is available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/resilientschools

Resilient Communities

More than 40 community council areas have established a Resilient Communities plan and have a response group, working with the Council and partners to tackle local issues, particularly during severe weather.

Through the scheme communities have training and access to equipment and supplies to tackle events like flooding and snow/ice.

Contact your local community council to see if your area is part of the scheme or to offer your support or visit www.sbalert.co.uk

Waste and recycling collections

Scheduled collections take place as far as conditions allow when the weather turns bad, but it may be necessary to make some changes.

Changes to collections due to bad weather will be reported on local radio, on the Council website and social media.

Every effort will be made to collect bins that have been missed as quickly as possible, but in some instances it may be that this is on the next scheduled collection day. In these situations only, excess bagged waste will be collected.

During adverse weather, please note priority may be given to collecting general waste over recycling.

In the winter, help neighbours to move their bins if they are struggling, clear piles of snow and ice from around bins so they can be easily moved to the collection vehicle and try to remove bins from footpaths as soon as possible after collections.

Every year waste and recycling collections and Community Recycling Centre (CRC) opening times need to be reviewed to take account of Christmas and New Year public holidays.

Changes to collection days are advertised in the run up to Christmas and during the Christmas and New Year weeks. These are also available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/bincollections

Christmas trees can be taken to any CRC for composting.

Lots more information and FAQs on the Council’s winter service are available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/winterfaqs

Did you know...?

4,000 residents have signed up to our free SB Alert service

Keeping well this winter

Four steps to keeping well this winter:

1. Restock your winter medicine cabinet – Many common winter illnesses such as colds and flu-like illness can be effectively treated at home with basic medicine.
2. Use your local pharmacy – Everyone can get advice from their local pharmacy and can buy medicine for minor ailments or illnesses, and they can often help if you run out of any prescribed medicine.
3. Check you have enough repeat prescriptions – If you or someone you care for take medicines
regularly, make sure you order and collect repeat prescriptions in plenty of time before the Christmas and New Year period.
4. Plan ahead – Check when your GP surgery and local pharmacy are closed or have limited opening times this Christmas and New Year. All opening times can be found at www.nhsborders.scot.nhs.uk/public-holidays or from the surgery or pharmacy. If you or someone you care for is unwell and can’t wait until your GP surgery re-opens, contact the NHS 24 helpline on 111. If the condition is immediately life-threatening, dial 999 for an emergency ambulance.

The Emergency Department at the Borders General Hospital should only be used for serious and life-threatening illness and injury.

If you are unwell and it is not an emergency, there is a wide range of NHS services available to provide you with appropriate treatment and care.

Going directly to the correct health professional with the right skills is very important and helps to ensure that NHS services are used properly.

Seasonal flu

Health professionals are calling for people who are ‘at risk’ to get their annual flu vaccine as soon
as possible to beat the flu virus this winter.

Flu is a serious illness and the vaccination is the most effective protection from the virus. People who are at risk can be hit harder with flu and can suffer more complications.

People who are eligible for the free flu vaccine are: those aged 65 and over, under 65s with existing long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and other heart, lung and liver diseases, pregnant women and unpaid carers of any age.

Health and social care staff who deal directly with patients or clients are also recommended to receive the flu vaccine.

All children between two and Primary 7 will also be offered the annual vaccine. In most cases the flu vaccine for children is given as a quick and painless nasal spray into each nostril.

To check if you are eligible or would like more information, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or go to www.immunisationscotland.org.uk

Norovirus

Every year, particularly when the weather gets colder, viruses like norovirus, colds, and flu are
more common.

However, Dr Ed James, Consultant Microbiologist at the Borders General Hospital, is reminding people that frequent hand washing and disposing of used tissues can be the most effective way to help prevent the spread of these illnesses.

He said: “Norovirus – also known as winter vomiting disease – is highly infectious and can cause a very unpleasant but generally short-lived illness from which people will recover without treatment.

“Norovirus can spread rapidly in communities such as hospitals, care homes, sheltered housing accommodation and schools, which is why people should stay away from work or school until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

“Something as simple as washing your hands can go some way in preventing the spread of diseases. Hand-washing after visiting the toilet and before eating are the particularly important times.

“Also it is good to get into the habit of using a hand-washing technique similar to that used by hospital staff which cleans hands more effectively. People can see how to do this at www.washyourhandsofthem.com

Dr James continued: “The main symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea and unfortunately there is no specific treatment for norovirus apart from letting the illness run its course.

“Thankfully, most people will make a full recovery within one to two days.

“If the illness persists for more than a few days, they should contact their family doctor by phone or take advice from NHS 24 on 111.”

General advice and information on keeping well this winter can be found at www.nhsborders.scot.nhs.uk and www.nhsinform.co.uk