Fire service advice to motorists as stormy winter weather approaches

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East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) is urging motorists to take extra care on the roads after a number of call-outs to road traffic collisions.

Driving can become more treacherous on the roads in winter and motorists are being urged to take precautions before heading out.

For instance, at 8.35pm last night (Monday) two fire engines were sent to Sevenoaks Road, in Langney, to reports of a road traffic collision involving an overturned car.

ESFRS advises drivers to:

While on the move

• Slow down and keep a distance from the car in front – stopping distances can be ten times long in snow and ice, and fallen leaves.

• Stay alert to the danger of fallen trees – it is possible more may come down after the heavy rain softened the ground. Branches and leaves can also make the roads more treacherous.

• If your vehicle loses its grip, or “aquaplanes” on surface water take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Don’t brake or steer suddenly because you have no control of the steering or brakes.

Flooded roads

• Avoid driving through floodwater – you don’t know how deep it is or whether there are hidden obstacles.

• If you have to drive through floods, drive slowly, use a low gear and try to keep the engine revving at a high rate. Move forward continuously to avoid stalling the engine. In driving an automatic vehicle engage and hold in a low gear. The deepest water is usually nearest the kerb.

• The Royal Life Saving Society has advice should your car get into floodwater.

Call for help, remove seatbelt and release any children from their seats.

Turn on all the lights and sound the horn to attract attention (only if this won’t delay your escape).

If the water level is low open the windows and stay in the car.

If the water level is high escape out of the windows, sunroof or doors onto the roof of the car. Stay with the car. If the car starts to move quickly with the water flow, get off the car, stay upstream from the car, and swim vigorously to safety.

If the water is entering the car - escape out of the windows, sunroof or doors (breaking windows if necessary). Stay upstream from the car, and swim vigorously to safety.

If you cannot escape call and signal for help. Turn on all of the lights and sound the horn

High winds

• High winds can cause considerable damage to property. Keeping your home or business property well maintained throughout the year can reduce the chances of being a victim of a storm.

• Before the bad weather hits, secure or stow away items such as garden furniture or shop signs. Do not attempt to do this in gale force wind - stay inside.

• High-sided vehicles are particularly affected by windy weather but strong gusts can also blow a vehicle, cyclist or motorcyclist off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges, high-sided vehicles or gaps in trees.

Before you leave

If the weather is bad and you don’t have to travel, please postpone your journey.

Check for problems on your route before setting out and favour major roads which are more likely to be cleared and gritted.

Ensure that your vehicle is road worthy. Make sure that your tyres have sufficient tread and that they are inflated in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Make sure your lights and windscreen wipers are fully working and that you have enough fuel in case of delays or diversions.

If snow is forecast, pack a snow-kit which should include items such as a shovel, a flash light, food and non-alcoholic drink, blanket or sleeping bag and a first aid kit.

Allow extra time for your journey and to get your car ready.

Make sure you properly clear all your windows of ice and snow. Be aware snow on the roof of your vehicle could slip down onto the windscreen while driving.