Snow, icy roads and dense fog advice

Severe weather

For the latest severe weather warnings please check the Met Office website.

SnowSnow and ice

Make sure your home and car are prepared for freezing temperatures.

Be prepared this winter

Winter conditions can also be bad for our health, particularly for those most vulnerable, so what can you do to stay well this winter?

  1. Get your flu vaccination - if you are in a priority group it's free.
  2. Remember that some pharmacies and surgeries close over the holidays so make sure you pick up your prescriptions in advance and have enough medicines that you or your family may need during the winter months.
  3. Keep you and your home warm.
  4. Eat well this winter - food is a vital source of energy and keeps your body warm.
  5. Keeping active can keep you warm in winter.

Before snow or ice

  • If you have to make a journey when snow is forecast, make sure you have warm clothes, food, water, boots, a torch and spade, and let someone know your route, and when you expect to arrive;
  • Try to wait until the roads have been gritted before travelling;
  • Put grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping on compacted snow;
  • Check on vulnerable neighbours.

During snow or ice

  • Avoid travel if possible;
  • If you must drive check the Highway Code for advice on driving in adverse weather;
  • Take care around gritters - don’t be tempted to overtake;
  • Slow down when driving - it can take 10 times longer to stop in snowy or icy conditions, so allow extra room. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Manoeuvre gently and avoid harsh braking and acceleration. If you start to skid, gently ease off the accelerator and avoid braking. If braking is necessary, pump the brakes don't slam them on. If you get stuck, stay with your car and tie something brightly coloured to your aerial;
  • If you go outside wear several layers of clothing and keep dry to prevent loss of body heat;
  • Watch out for signs of hypothermia - uncontrollable shivering, slow/slurred speech, memory lapse, drowsiness and frostbite, loss of feeling in and pale appearance of fingers, toes, nose and ear lobes. Keep moving your arms and legs to help the blood circulate.

After snow and ice

  • Be careful when walking or driving on compacted snow - it may have turned to ice,
  • Take care when shovelling snow. Cold air makes it harder to work and breathe which adds some extra strain on the body and can be the cause of heart attacks in the vulnerable.
  • When the snow melts there may be some flooding. More information on flooding

Clearing snow and ice yourself

There’s no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home, business or from public spaces. It’s unlikely you’ll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries if you have cleared it carefully.

  • Do not use hot water. This will melt the snow, but will replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury
  • Removing the top layer of snow from your path will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath. However, you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight
  • Spread some ordinary table salt or dishwasher salt on the area you have cleared to prevent any ice forming but avoid spreading it on plants or grass.

The salt/sand mix in the yellow salt bins is to be used on the public highway only.

How to guide on salt spreading

Essex County Council website - winter

Help your community

Harlow Council teams put grit down around doctors’ surgeries and supported housing complexes to ensure more vulnerable residents can get around safely. We’re ready, but we’re asking everyone to do their bit too.

  • Keep a close eye on the welfare of neighbours and vulnerable people - if you’re concerned about someone let us know.
  • Clear snow and ice from in front of your homes and businesses. If it’s a hazard, see our clearing snow and ice guide.
  • Please do keep warm.

Pensioners may qualify for extra help and cold weather payments which are paid automatically. If you’re concerned about someone:

  • Knock on their door and ask them if they are alright.
  • If you’re still worried, please let Essex Adult Social Care know on 0345 603 7630.
  • If there is an imminent danger dial 999 and speak to the emergency services.

Essex County Council Social Care (adults and children) offer a 24-hour emergency service on 0345 606 1212. Essex County Council website - social care

For more information on how to prepare for winter visit:

Dense fog

Fog affects all road users and can cause serious disruption to traffic. The Met Office offers the following advice for fog:

  • Avoid travel if possible;
  • Drive very slowly with dipped headlights, full-beam lights reflect off the fog causing a ‘white wall’ effect;
  • Use fog lights, but remember to turn them off when the visibility improves;
  • Keep an eye on your speed, fog can give the illusion of moving in slow motion;
  • Don’t hang on the tail lights of the car in front; rear lights can give a false sense of security;
  • Watch out for freezing fog which is made of water droplets that freeze on contact with objects such as the pavement, road, car, etc. It can quickly form a layer of ice.