After a period of severe winter weather, the thaw comes as a relief. But it has its own risks and challenges. You can prepare for these by taking some simple steps and keeping up to date on the current situation. Look out for:
Black ice on roads and pavements Your stopping distance is increased ten times when driving on ice. If you can put off your journey until road conditions are better then it's a good idea to do so. If you must drive, reduce your speed and be prepared. Follow Ready Scotland advice on preparing to travel in winter.
You can also play your part by applying salt or grit to paths or pavements outside your home or business to reduce the risk of icing. See guidance on clearing paths.
Scottish Water have produced the following video to help explain how to thaw out frozen pipes.
Burst pipes Make sure you know where to locate the stop valve which controls the water supply entering your home. If you suspect you have a burst pipe, turn off the water supply immediately. Scottish Water has advice on dealing with frozen and burst pipes.
If a pipe has burst in your property you can make a temporary repair using putty or a repair clamp, which can be bought from most DIY outlets. However, any temporary repair needs to be replaced as soon as possible by a permanent repair, carried out by a licensed plumber.
Blocked drains Drains can be blocked by excess grit, leaves and other debris. Where this happens there is a risk that the blocked drains could cause localised flooding. If you see a blocked drain, help everyone in your area by reporting it to your local authority.
Thawing ice on frozen ponds, lakes, canals and rivers Even in severe cold weather, do not assume that ice will take your weight. You have no way of knowing how safe it is. The only safe course of action is to stay off. Frozen waterways can be a particular temptation for young children and animals - keep your dog on leash, and ensure young children are supervised.
In an emergency always dial 999.
Falling icicles and snow on guttering and roofs If your property has large amounts of overhanging snow or large icicles, try to make anyone entering it aware of the risk (a simple note on your door may do the job). If you are confident that it is safe to do so, you should try to remove overhanging icicles that pose a threat on your own property - but ladders should not be used in icy conditions, nor should you hang out of windows to reach roof areas. It is important to let children know of the risks of falling icicles - and of the danger of throwing snow or any other objects onto (or at) icicles or snowy roofs.