With winter upon us, local villages and towns are reminded about the importance of making sure their community emergency plans are up-to-date.
“Severe weather emergencies, flu epidemics as well as the risks to health caused by cold weather, are much more likely this time of year, so we are advising everyone with a community resilience plan to make sure it is up to date,” said Steve Clare, East Sussex County Council emergency planning officer.
“Many East Sussex Communities still do not have a Community Resilience plan. These are simple but can be vital, particularly in winter when communities may be cut off or the emergency services are stretched. The plan equips the community to make its own immediate arrangements.”
The East Sussex Community Resilience Conference, hosted by Wealden District Council, learnt that Community Plans had been activated for a number of local events over the last year include burst water mains and smoke plumes.
A good community action plan assesses the local risks such as roads vulnerable to flooding as well as infrastructure like electricity substations and sewage works. It also identifies where people can be vulnerable, such as care homes.
The key part is the Action Plan, identifying what to do and who does it – and drawing up a list of useful resources, such as licensed chainsaw operators and four wheel drive volunteer drivers who can be called on to help in a specific emergency.
A good communications plan is also important in making sure the people needed, can be contacted and everyone is kept informed of actions being taken by the blue light responders, local councils and utility providers to ensure a coordinated response.
The conference also heard about the work being done by East Sussex Highways, SGN and Public Health England in preparation for winter:
- The East Sussex Gritter Tracker, is available on the Winter Service pages of the East Sussex Highways website which enables you to track gritters while they are at work.
- The National Gas Emergency Number – contact 0800 111 999 – aims to send an engineer to all uncontrolled gas escapes within one hour. When restoring gas supplies, engineers have to visit every affected property, to make sure the gas is turned off at the meter, before restoring the supply network.
- Cold homes can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes as well as trips and falls for people over 65. Always heat your home to at least 18 degrees. East Sussex County Council offers a Winter Home Check Service to help people on low incomes keep their homes warm. Contact 0800 085 1674 or visit www.warmeastsussex.org.uk
- People with health problems which leave them vulnerable in cold weather can register for free Sussex cold alert service. Contact 01273 481692 or visit www.coldalert.info
For more information and advice about community resilience plans, please contact the East Sussex Emergency Planning team on 01323 747090, email: firstname.lastname@example.org