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Coldest day since 2012 as Big Freeze grips the UK – how to prepare for the cold

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
Feb 6, 2018

The UK is set to have its coldest day since 2012 as temperatures could plunge to –14C.

Weather forecasters have even warned that the bitter weather could last the entire month, as snow is set to fall in almost every part of the country this week.


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Temperatures could drop to as low as –14C in northern parts of the UK, marking the coldest night in six years. 

However other parts of the country won't be spared.

Are you prepared for the cold? Scroll down for advice on getting ready for the Big Freeze.

The Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin expected temperatures to be around or below freezing for most of us.

"There are indications of quite a prolonged cold period.

"As we go through the next 24 to 48 hours, it's going to stay cold, and we are going to see some snow and pretty much anywhere in the country could see something."

"Really much of February and perhaps even into March it is going to stay on the cold side, so temperatures generally below average, with further frosts and also the risk of rain, sleet and snow as well."

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British Airways was forced to cancel about 80 short-haul flights to and from Heathrow on Monday, including three south trips to Aberdeen and Milan’s Linate airport.

About 10,000 customers had to be rebooked onto other services as snow covered parts of Kent, Essex and Suffolk.

Public Health England has issued a level-3 cold weather health alert across England until Friday.

Elderly and vulnerable people have been urged to take care in the freezing temperatures.

Bookmaker Coral has also slashed odds on all major cities across the UK to see snowfall before the end of the weekend.

“Anybody who thought spring might come early is sorely mistaken and our odds suggest we are expecting another deluge of snow across the UK this week,” Coral’s Harry Aitkenhead said.

A freezing winter also has serious ramifications for people's energy bills and insurance claims.


Heating bills going up

As many as 12 million people in the UK are paying too much for gas and electricity, according to watchdog Ofgem.

For the typical household, a standard variable tariff costs about £300 more each year than the cheapest tariff available.

So, before you turn up your heating, take a second to check you aren't also turning up your bills without realising.

Make a quick price comparison on energy.


Are you actually covered for snow damage to your home?

Snow can be a nightmare for your home too.

Most home insurance policies will offer some form of weather damage protection, but you need to check the small print to see if this will cover snow.


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Not all home insurance policies cover accidental damage and it may be an optional add-on to a basic policy.

Example: a gradual build-up of snow after a storm may not be classed as storm damage – this could be deemed to be accidental damage.

You need to check the fine print on your policy as each insurer and their terms can differ.

Snow can build up slowly and end up doing significant damage to your property.

Once the cold weather has passed – and as long as it's safe – try to remove excess snow and ice from your guttering and drains, and even your roof.

Example 2: your building insurance should cover if a storm blows tiles off a well-maintained roof. BUT, you might not be covered if rain then comes through the roof and damages the ceiling - this may also require accident cover.

This is also another time to make sure you are properly covered and to check the condition of your roof.

While you're doing that, why not also check to see if you could save on your home insurance.


Does travel insurance cover missed flights because of snow?

Most travel insurance policies cover you if you are unable to make your flight IF it was due to reasons beyond your control, such as adverse weather conditions leading to public transport failing, or roads being blocked off en route to the airport.

Beware drivers: some insurers may ask for proof that you left enough time to get your flight.

As always you should check the small print of your policy as these can all differ.

If your flight is cancelled because of bad weather, this typically is the responsibility of your airline. It should cover you by booking you onto a later flight, or giving you a refund.


Peace of mind at a reasonable price

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Fines if snow interferes with another vehicle

Driving with snow on your roof could get you a fine of £60 and three penalty points.

WATCH: The moment a moving car’s windscreen is shattered by flying ice

But if the snow on your vehicle interferes with others on the road, you can be fined £100 and given nine penalty points.

Motorists can be charged for driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.

In serious cases you can be charged with "careless driving" and given 3-9 points and a fine of up to £5,000.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “If snow on the roof of your car falls off onto your windscreen, or flies into the path of another car, then you could find yourself in trouble which was completely avoidable."

Cousens said it was easy to avoid fines.

He suggested using a soft brush to sweep the snow away. He also suggested parking somewhere undercover to save time.


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Burst pipes

The average cost of damage from burst pipes is a chilling £7,000, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

As the cold rolls in there are simple steps you can take to prevent a burst pipe.

  • Keep the heating on around 15 degrees to avoid pipes freezing.
  • Lift your loft hatch so warm air can circulate to pipes throughout your home.
  • Make sure any external pipes to boilers have been lagged, this can be done with supplies from your local DIY store.
  • Clear out your gutters so melted snow and ice can flow.
  • Find out where your stopcock is and know how to turn off the water supply in event of an emergency.

While prevention is always better than a cure, for peace of mind make sure you’re completely protected with the right home insurance policy.

It always pays to be prepared.