At the moment we're enjoying some unseasonable and fairly mild weather, particularly in the South West. I believe that it might be the calm before the storm and we could be in for a very harsh Winter. Mother Nature might try to redress the balance after such a sunshine-filled summer. We experienced one of the coldest Winters in recent years last year, with heavy snowfall even on the South Coast where we're based. As lovely as seeing towns and villages blanketed in snow can be, it can also cause great disruption and monumental accessibility problems.
Hot and cold, fire and ice, accessibility and Winter weather. All words that contradict each other. When snow gradually turns to ice, the risk of injury, particularly for those that are vulnerable in society, dramatically increases. Roads and pavements become icy and slippery, a simple 5 minute walk to the shops can become an hour's trek and falling over becomes more prevalent. Winter weather can be heavenly for some... but it can also be hellish for others.
Ice is the major problem we face, it can appear suddenly overnight covering whole areas. Ice can make it increasingly difficult for elderly and disabled people to get out of the house as garden pathways and driveways become slippery. 24.5% of people living in the South West are 65+ years old. In our local area of East Dorset the figure rises to 31%. The risk of injury is too great for some, with people opting to stay in their homes rather than venturing out. A few hours can turn into a few days and a few days can turn into a couple of weeks. The inaccessibility of a garden path can lead to days of isolation. Loneliness is a huge problem during the Winter months, particularly amongst the elderly and disabled people. The lack of large support networks can only compound the effect. If you're a relative, a friend or even a neighbour of an elderly or disabled person make sure to visit them this Winter. A few hours of your time can make someone's day or even their week. Small things such as helping with the shopping, clearing a driveway or de-icing a car windshield all make a huge difference. If this Winter is particularly harsh look out for those people who may need an extra helping hand.