Research suggests only 43% of us are confident driving in snow
Met Eireann have put in place a five-day-long weather advisory for the entire country due to low temperatures and potential snowfall this week. Recent research by Liberty Insurance suggests nearly three in four Irish drivers (74%) do not feel confident when driving in poor weather conditions.
Conducted by RED C Research among 724 drivers, the survey found that ice on the roads and snow have the strongest negative impact on confidence amongst drivers: less than half (43%) of all drivers are confident driving in snow, while just over a third (35%) feel confident operating their vehicle with ice on the roads.
In advance of these extreme weather conditions, Deirdre Ashe, Director of Personal Lines at Liberty Insurance, offers some tips on staying safe at home and on the road in the days ahead: “We would also like to reassure our customers that home and motor insurance policies apply as normal during snowfall. As ever, we would urge people to continue to stay safe in the days ahead and take every precaution both at home and on the road.”
Take care when driving
Clear your entire car of snow, not just the windscreen; as you drive around corners the snow can dislodge from your roof and impact other vulnerable road users. Do not pour hot water on your windscreen to clear the snow and ice. The sudden change from cold to hot can severely damage the glass.
Only travel where absolutely necessary. Check your tyre pressure and thread depth (minimum 1.6mm).
Try to avoid steep inclines on snowy roads. If you can’t avoid a snowy hill, make sure to keep your momentum to avoid getting stuck.
Be aware of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and be mindful of your surroundings
Drive slowly. If you cannot avoid driving in freezing conditions, reduce your speed below the speed limit to appropriately respond to patches of ice and snow.
Avoid sudden starts and stops. On slippery roads, be sure to avoid quickly accelerating and braking to prevent losing control of your vehicle.
Avoid using your fog lights unless absolutely necessary. Fog lamps will dazzle other road users, especially when the white snow on the road is reflecting the light back up at them. If you’re in any doubt about which lights to use, put yourself in the position of other drivers on the road.
If you do start to skid on a patch of slippery road, avoid using the brakes as this will prolong the skid. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator to allow yourself to reduce speed until you can gain control of the car.
Stock A Winter Emergency Kit. In the event that you do have to pull over during heavy snowfall or find yourself with a broken-down vehicle, be prepared with a winter emergency kit. Recommended items include: a hi-visibility jacket, a flashlight and batteries, hand-warmers, blankets, drinking water, shovel and ice scraper, jumper cables, and standalone emergency lights.
Have a fully charged mobile phone to hand so you can call for assistance in the event of an emergency.
Finally, don’t panic! Home insurance and motor insurance policies apply as normal in a storm. Insurance cover is not impacted by the weather conditions.
Prevent damage to your home
1. Protect your pipes
If water inside your pipes freezes, it will expand which can cause your pipes to crack and burst. Pipes also can burst when pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice, which is why it's a good idea to leave taps dripping in very cold weather. Another tip is to open the cupboards under your sink; this will allow the heat from your house to reach the pipes there.
Seal windows and doors
Gaps around windows and doors can make it tough to keep your house warm in winter. Keep your heating on at regular intervals or use a timer to ensure your heating keeps running through the cold temperatures. Keep doors to all rooms closed to keep the heat in. If you can, seal around windows and install weather stripping around doors as needed. This minor and inexpensive task can help you save on heating costs.
Attic, gutters and drains
Check in your attic and look for any signs of leaks from the exterior. Look for wet insulation, dark stains or water dripping from the underside of the roof. Clear all drains and gutters of leaves and debris so that there isn’t a back-up causing blockages and preventing the run-off of rainwater on your property.
Inspect the fireplace and chimney
Ensure your fireplace and chimney are clean and clear of nesting animals.
A professional chimney sweep can clean out soot and other debris that could catch fire. Keep your home's warm air from escaping out the chimney when you're not using it by keeping the flue closed all the way. You shouldn't be able to feel any cold air coming down the chimney.
Stock up on cold-weather essentials
When winter storms hit, they often come with power outages. To ensure you and your family are prepared, you will want to have an emergency kit ready. Consider having these cold-weather specific items on hand such as a working, fully charged mobile phone, torches and batteries and a shovel.
Keep in touch with family and neighbours
You should also develop a plan for communicating or meeting up with family in case you aren't together when a winter storm hits, check in with your neighbours to see whether they need assistance, in particular, the elderly and those living alone.
Liberty Insurance customers can call 1850 858 530 to notify them of a claim; their Breakdown Assistance Teams are also available to customers. For more information visit the Liberty Insurance Safety Centre on www.libertyinsurance.ie/safety-centre