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Can you do 'an hour of power' to prepare for winter?

Date: 20 October 2023

Graphic - text 'Ready for Winter?' with snowflakes and image of a clock

What can you do in an ‘hour of power’ winter prep when clocks go back?

Orkney’s local emergency coordination group, OLECG, is urging residents to do an ‘hour of power’ for winter preparations when clocks go back.

Chair of the group, which includes representatives from Orkney’s emergency services, NHS Orkney and services across the Council, is local Police Scotland Chief Inspector Scott Robertson: “The extra hour we get when the clocks go back is a great chance for everyone to do some winter preparations.

“Taking steps now to make our households winter-ready makes it easier to take it in our stride when disruptions come – from extended power cuts, to icy paths and driveways.”

In autumn 2023, the clocks will go back on 29 October at 2am. Why not use the extra hour gained in the small hours this weekend on being ‘winter ready’.

The following is not an exhaustive list of suggestions. The website offers advice including creating an emergency plan and tips for staying informed. You can also visit the Council’s Winter page at And follow the Council’s ‘OIC Updates’ facebook page between 23 and 27 October for more helpful tips and advice.

In the home:

  • Put torches and batteries somewhere handy (these are much safer than candles and matches)
  • Clear your property of objects that could become flying debris in high wind
  • Get into the habit of keeping your mobile and devices fully charged
  • Consider buying a spare mobile phone and/or battery pack and keep them fully charged
  • If you have a home phone line that only works when there’s electricity, have a ‘Plan B’ way to contact folk when your handset and broadband go down. This could be an “old wired phone” or checking your mobile works and has signal coverage from work, home and other key places.
  • Get a hold of some salt for treating paths on your property
  • Battery powered radios can help you stay informed in emergencies
  • Stock up on medication, infant supplies such as nappies and formula, and pet food
  • Make sure you have numbers written down for people you rely on, and for people who rely on you. Offer your number to your neighbours.
  • Make sure fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are operational
  • Know where the water stop valve is in your home and business property, in case of frozen or burst pipes. Take steps to prevent frozen pipes – it can prevent costly water damage. Visit
  • If your home or business is prone to flooding, visit the Scottish Flood Forum website for practical advice on steps you can take now
  • Speak to vulnerable friends and family about registering them for priority services with Scottish Water and Scottish Hydro. Go to and and search for 'priority services register'

On the move:

  • Dig out high viz for yourself and family members
  • Book your car in for a service or check – winter is not the weather to be breaking down in!
  • Sign up for SEPA flood alerts -
  • Find out where grit bins are in your area, and whether the roads and footpaths you use to get to school, work and shops are on the gritting network
  • Consider getting a pair of ice grippers for your shoes for everyone in your household and anyone you care for. They are inexpensive, are designed to fit over any pair of shoes, make a massive difference when walking on ice, and can prevent painful fall injuries.
  • Equip your car for winter driving – consider fitting winter tyres. Create an emergency pack with weatherproof clothes, a high viz, a blanket, jump leads and long life snacks and water for emergencies. Some folk also keep a bucket of grit and a small snow shovel in their car.
  • Speak to young and inexperienced drivers about driving in tricky conditions and the importance of being prepared.

In the community

  • Be neighbourly – offer to help any vulnerable neighbours with practical things like shopping, taking out bins, and clearing their path, and encourage them to be prepared for long bouts of bad weather.

At work

  • If you have a business, make sure you have plans in place for gritting paths and car parks. Council gritters do not grit private car parks and footpaths, so local businesses and facilities should make sure they have their own gritting arrangements in place.
  • Speak to employees about how you will all keep the business operating in severe weather and power cuts. Find more business continuity advice at

What the Council is doing to prepare:

  • Grit bins are in the process of being topped up – there are 400 salt bins around the county and you can check locations at
  • You can also request a salt bin for a public road if you feel there’s a need for one in your area – head to to request online
  • We have over 4,000 tonnes of salt in readiness for the winter ahead – we carefully monitor usage and can resupply if required.
  • Our winter fleet of gritters are going through final stages of servicing, testing and calibration.
  • We’ll soon be carrying out an exercise rolling out the Kirkwall flood barriers with local emergency services colleagues, and have 1000 sand bags ready for deployment. And we’ve already tested the defences for St Margarets Hope.
  • Our School transport team has tested their bad weather plans and issued the Winter Newsletter

Handy numbers and websites for your fridge:

  • All our social media alerts are also published on our website –
  • Report empty grit bins to the Council at
  • Call 105 in a power cut or visit - it’s free of charge and will put you through to your local network operator who can give you help and advice. The website has great tips for what to do in a power cut, including having a torch handy, checking on neighbours, and turning off appliances at the wall.
  • Churchill barrier and Kirkwall Flood Defence updates –
  • The website has loads of advice about being prepared
  • The Council’s winter safety webpage has loads of national and Orkney-specific advice
  • View live flooding information and sign up for flood alerts at
  • Radio Orkney broadcasts from 93.7FM and has a facebook page
  • The Orcadian newspaper is online at and has a facebook page
  • Have friends’, family and neighbours’ numbers handy
  • Have ‘Priority Service’ numbers for Scottish Hydro and Scottish Water if you have registered as a vulnerable person and been given a number
  • Follow the Council’s ‘OIC Updates’ page on facebook for updates on bad weather disruptions
  • Follow ‘OIC School Transport’ on facebook too for urgent updates on school buses
  • Summary:

    Orkney’s local emergency coordination group, OLECG, is urging residents to do an ‘hour of power’ for winter preparations when clocks go back.

  • Category:
    • Roads, Lighting and Parking
    • Transport
    • Waste and Recycling
    • Community
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