Government Task Force on Emergency Planning
‘Met Éireann’s Weather Warnings’
- Additional beds for rough sleepers provided under Cold Weather Initiative
- Financial support for businesses affected by flooding
- 217,000 tonnes of salt available for country’s roads
- ‘Continuity checklist’ for employers
‘Be Winter Ready’ The Government today launched the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ 2019 -2020 Information Campaign focusing this year on the different colour codings associated with Met Éireann weather warnings. The campaign was jointly launched by Minister with responsibility for Defence and Chairman of the Government Taskforce, Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D., Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation, Ms. Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Shane Ross T.D and Minister with special responsibility for Housing and Urban Development, Mr Damien English T.D.
Also in attendance were representatives from the various Departments and Agencies tasked with emergency planning and response.
The launch coincided with a meeting of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, which dealt with winter-preparedness issues.
The ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign, which is the ninth of its kind, is intended to raise awareness about the particular challenges that winter can present. This is now an established and important annual event impacting across the whole public service. The campaign highlights the ‘Whole of Government’ approach being taken to winter preparations. This sort of approach was seen during recent storms which posed challenges for communities, businesses, Government Departments and Agencies. Importantly, the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign informs the public of what is being done in relation to winter preparations and where they can source valuable information that can assist them through a difficult period.
Met Éireann weather warnings
This year’s ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign is focused on “Met Éireann’s Weather Warnings”.
The Office of Emergency Planning, in collaboration with their colleagues in Met Éireann, have designed and produced a leaflet on these weather warnings. This leaflet and leaflets from previous Be Winter Ready campaigns are available on the winterready.ie website.
This main focus of this years ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign is about explaining this colour coding.
Status Yellow: While a Status Yellow warning is for weather that does not pose a threat to the general population this does not mean that caution should not be taken; it is potentially dangerous but on a localised scale. If Met Éireann issue a Status Yellow warning you should check if you are exposed to danger due to your activity or your specific location and you should take appropriate action to protect yourself.
Status Orange: A Status Orange warning may pose a threat to life and property with people in the affected area being impacted significantly. In this circumstance you should take advice from the Local Authorities and Gardaí and think about delaying or canceling your activities as appropriate. It may be useful to consider the impact of the weather event in advance and if there is anything that you can do to minimise the potential damage to you or your property.
Status Red: In the event that Met Éireann issue a Status Red weather warning you should take action to keep yourself safe.
Minister Kehoe said:
While everyone is aware of the seriousness of a Status Red warning there is less clarity about what to do in a Status Orange or Status Yellow warning. This main focus of this years ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign is about explaining this colour coding. Colour coding is in place for a reason and understanding it can save lives.
Housing, Planning and Local Government The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is the lead Government Department for the response to severe weather emergencies and has successfully led the response, at national level, to recent severe weather events including ex-Hurricane Ophelia and the severe cold weather and Storm Emma. Speaking at the launch, Minister English said additional beds are being provided to rough sleepers under the Cold Weather Initiative.
The Minister said:
The Cold Weather Initiative involves the provision of additional beds to ensure that there is adequate capacity to cope with additional demand due to colder temperatures. The Initiative also involves extended opening hours where facilities do not operate on a 24-hour basis and additional outreach activity to encourage entrenched rough sleepers to avail of accommodation.
The Minister added:
My Department is working with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to deliver 300 additional emergency beds this winter, with 150 beds already in place and the majority of the 300 beds to be in place before Christmas. A further 50 contingency beds are available to ensure that there will be sufficient beds available for all that require shelter. Specific measures are being put in place throughout all the regions.
Today’s meeting also heard of the importance of businesses showing a sense of awareness and preparedness this winter.
Minister Humphreys encouraged businesses to put a simple plan in place now to ensure they are best placed to deal with a severe weather event.
Minister Humphreys said her Department has prepared a Business Continuity Checklist which provides useful advice to businesses, which is available on the Department’s website.
And the Minister confirmed that small businesses, sports clubs, community organisations and voluntary organisations may be able to avail of financial support under an ad hoc humanitarian assistance scheme if they are affected by flooding and do not have insurance.
Such a scheme was recently launched to assist businesses affected by flooding in Donegal Town.
Minister Humphreys added:
My Department will be in a position to activate similar schemes again on an ad hoc basis, working closely with Red Cross, as required.
Transport The severe winter of 2017/18 saw over 200,000 tonnes of salt used across our national, regional & local roads. Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) prepared in advance to ensure an adequate supply of salt was available and has continued to work with Local Authorities in advance of this winter.
Last winter was particularly mild – in fact the mildest in 21 years according to TII.
This year, 217,000 tonnes of salt are nationally available. Speaking at the launch, Minister Ross said he had three key messages ahead of the winter months.
The Minister said:
For motorists, please have your vehicle serviced so that it is safe for winter driving, and have your tyres checked regularly. Recent research from the Road Safety Authority found that tyres are a contributory factor in an average of 14 road deaths annually.
For cyclists and pedestrians, please be safe and be seen. If you’re walking or cycling, wear high viz items and make sure you have proper lighting.
Finally, I would ask everyone to be aware of how the weather will impact on your journeys this winter. The focus of this year’s Be Winter Ready campaign is on Met Eireann’s weather warnings and it’s important we all take the time to understand what these warnings mean for us.