Stay head of the weather demons, and keep warm, urges Angus MP

Angus MP Mike Weir is backing a campaign by Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) to make sure local residents know how to stay safe, warm and informed if winter storms cause further disruption to power supplies.

Last week, the first major storm of the winter hit the north of Scotland and the islands, with 5,000 recorded lightning strikes, gale forces winds and waves the height of a six-storey building. Engineers worked throughout the course of the incident to restore power supplies to over 59,000 homes that were affected.

Over the past four years, SHEPD has invested £162m to ensure that its overhead lines, underground cables and substations are as prepared as possible to withstand the challenges of winter in the north of Scotland. Engineers have been carrying out refurbishment programmes across the network, installing the latest technologies and ensuring that any old or damaged equipment is replaced or repaired. In addition, SHEPD’s tree-cutting teams have been working to ensure that key overhead lines are clear of interference by trees or other vegetation.

As part of the current campaign, residents are being asked to:

* Be safe: Extra support is available to customers who may be vulnerable during a power cut - for example, if you rely on electricity for home medical care. It’s easy to register and discuss your needs with SHEPD’s Priority Service team by calling 0800 294 3258.

* Keep warm: Make sure you have what you need at home for light and warmth. A home resilience kit might include a torch, spare batteries, light sticks, hand-warmers, high energy food or even self-heating food or drinks available from outdoor shops.

* Stay informed: Think about how you would keep in touch without electricity. For example, a basic ‘plug-in’ landline telephone will work without mains power; a battery-operated radio tuned to your local station is ideal for updates on when power supplies will be restored; or, SHEPD’s award-winning Power Track App which gives accurate, localised information on power cuts and restoration times, which is available free from the Apple and Google Play stores.

Mr Weir said: “We all hope that severe winter storms won’t affect our plans, especially as the festive season approaches. While everyone is preparing for Christmas, it’s a good opportunity to make sure we’re also as ready as possible to stay safe and warm if the weather does its worst.

“I would encourage local people to make sure any family members who might be vulnerable in a power cut are registered to receive the extra support that is available. Especially when it’s cold and stormy outside, it’s good to know that family and friends will be ready to take good care of themselves and others.”