Be Winter Ready – Know your Neighbours

PDF file icon   Galway City Council's Winter Maintenance Service Plan.

Severe Winter weather can occur quickly and be prolonged leaving some people in our community vulnerable. A little planning now can help keep people warm and safe this Winter.

+ Know your Neighbours
  • Identify family or neighbours who may need an extra helping hand if severe weather occurs (e.g. elderly, those in poor health)
  • Have their phone numbers to hand, and offer to help with grocery shopping or other essential tasks.
+ Food and Heat
  • Eat well. Have a supply of non-perishable foods.
  • Keep warm. Keep an extra supply of fuel for heating and cooking.
  • Leave low energy light on at night, preferably with a high light output.
    Have batteries for torch in event of power cuts.
+ Medication
  • Keep an extra supply of essential medication
  • Have contact numbers for Doctor, Pharmacy, etc, to hand
+ Emergencies
  • Have emergency contact numbers to hand (e.g. doctor, pharmacy, neighbour, relative)
  • If necessary, wear a personal alarm so that family or neighbours are alerted, if you fall or get in to difficulty
  • Know how to turn off your water supply. Refer to "Householders" tab, which gives practical advice on how to prepare and protect your home against severe winter weather.
  • If possible, do not venture outdoors in severe weather. If you do, inform someone of your plans beforehand.
  • Have contact details of your plumber to hand.
+ Assistance & Information

Be Winter Ready - Businesses

PDF file icon   Galway City Council's Winter Maintenance Service Plan.

There are a number of straightforward practical steps businesses can take to ensure the continuity of their business and how best to protect both occupied and unoccupied premises during severe weather.

+ Prepare
  • Consider how various severe weather scenarios can affect the place of work and your customers.
    • Does your business have adequate storage for water supply in the event of a service disruption? Your premises should have 24 hours storage
    • Are there access difficulities to your business (access roads positioned on a slope and at risk to ice). Have you a supply of grit or salt?
    • Are water pipes insulated? (including in and around vacant buildings)
  • Have you arranged to check on both occupied and unoccupied premises over weekends or holiday periods?
  • Arrange to turn off your water supply and drain down your system if you have a vacant property.
  • Identify business-critical roles and develop plans for ensuring business continuity
  • Consider access to your business by suppliers especially time-sensitive suppliers. Consider ordering non-perishable stock ahead of time where possible.

Please also refer to the "Be Winter Ready - Householders" tab above for practical advice on how to minimise the negative impact of severe weather on your property.

+ Stay Safe
  • Consider how customer-safety can be ensured within the public areas of your business (e.g. carparks).
  • Assess how surrounding pavements and access points can be cleared in the event of snow and ice. Make preparations by having suitable equipment available.
+ Assistance & Advice

Be Winter Ready - Householders

PDF file icon   Galway City Council's Winter Maintenance Service Plan.

Water and Freezing Conditions

During severe cold weather, water supply can be disrupted as a result of frozen pipes and of bursts and leaks following a thaw.
However with preparation and some simple precautions, it may be possible to reduce the negative impact of severe weather on your property.

+ Preparation & Prevention
  • Become familiar with your water supply system now. Your water system runs from your mains stopcock (usually located on the footpath outside your property boundary or on a driveway) through to your kitchen sink and internally throughout your property.
  • Know where your internal stopcock/valve is (usually under the kitchen sink) and how to turn it off. If you need to turn off your water supply you should turn off your internal stopcock/valve first. If this does not resolve your water issue you should then turn off your mains stopcock. You will need a key/tool to turn off your mains stopcock. If you don’t already have one, the key can be purchased from a hardware store.
  • Some mains stopcocks can serve two properties. Therefore, if turning off water, check with neighbours in case you have turned off their supply as well. If a mains stopcock is located at every second property, this may indicate a joint supply.
  • Keep your property as warm as possible even if you are out e.g. leaving heat on for longer periods at lower settings.
  • Lag pipes in the attic, exposed or draughty places and insulate external taps.
  • Leave the attic trap door open to allow warm air flow in during extreme weather conditions when there is the chance that un-lagged water tanks and pipes could freeze.
    Please note that running taps will lead to water shortages
  • If you are away from your property for more than a day or two or own a holiday home or vacant property, turn off water supply and drain down part of internal water storage to minimise the possibility of burst pipes following a thaw (before doing so, ensure that water-dependent appliances are also shut off (e.g. washing machine, dishwasher).
  • Consider an additional water conservation/storage option so that a backup supply of water is available should your mains supply be interupted.
  • Have contact details of a plumber to hand
+ Devices That May Prevent Frozen Pipes
  • Install a "Frost Stat" in the attic near the water tanks. This will activate a heat lamp when there is a danger of pipes freezing in your attic. This is especially relevant where good insulation already exists in your attic as the heat cannot travel so easily in to your attic space to prevent pipes from freezing. A "Frost Stat" device should only be fitted by a qualified electrician.
  • Fit a "Frost Plug" which is a cover that fits over your mains stopcock (underneath the cover). These can be purchased from hardware/plumbing shops and online. Alternatively, cut insulation such as aero board to the correct size and fit it over the stopcock.
  • Water Service pipes that are laid shallow may freeze in very cold weather even if the mains stopcock is deep enough and well insulated. There are products on the market that can be used to prevent shallow service pipes from freezing by fitting a thermostatically controlled heating element down through the pipes. In very cold weather this heating element will be activated to help prevent water in the pipes from freezing.

Note: Galway City Council does not endorse any particular products and are not party to any private contracts or guarantees.

+ Frozen Pipes & Bursts

The thaw following a severe frosty period is the most likely time for a burst to occur.

If your pipes burst in the thaw following a big freeze:

  • Turn off your internal stopcock/valve – usually under your kitchen sink.
  • If you have difficulty turning of your internal stopcock, turn off your mains stopcock – usually on the footpath outside your property or on your driveway.
  • If internal pipes burst and the flow of water cannot be stopped, open all the cold taps to drain the system (once the water supply has been turned off at either the internal or mains stopcock).
  • Turn off central heating and get advice from your plumber. Some central heating systems will work even if there is no water in the main water storage tank. There is a smaller "expansion tank" that should always have some water (approx. 5 inches) in it to serve the radiators. If your home is heated with fireplace/range/stove and has a back boiler you may still be able to put on the fire.
    If you are in any doubt please check with your plumber.
  • Turn of electricity supply if leak is near an electrical appliance
  • Call a qualified plumber if you are in doubt as to what to do and to repair any damage.
+ When to contact Galway City Council?

With the exception of Galway City Council tenants, Galway City Council is not responsible for frozen pipes or leaks that occur within the home or your property boundary.

+ How do you know if you have a water mains supply or an internal plumbing issue?
  • You do have a water supply to your cold kitchen sink tap but not in other taps within your property, then the issue is an internal plumbing issue and we recommend that you contact a private plumber.
  • Check if your neighbours have water in their cold kitchen sink tap. If they do then the issue may be an internal plumbing issue within your property and you should contact a private plumber to check the cause of the issue
  • Refer to Galway City Council's website for the latest information on water supply in your area

If there is no notice regarding water supply disruption in your area and you have established that your water issue is not an internal plumbing issue, then we recommend that you contact Galway City Council on 091-536400 to report the issue.

+ Reporting Leaks in Public Areas

Please report leaks on roads or footpaths to Irish Water at 1890 278 278 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)

If a significant leak occurs outside of office hours, you should report it to the out of hours emergency line on 091-536400 where staff will take the details and refer the matter to the Water Services Team.

+ Assistance & Information:

Severe Winter Weather – Motorists, Cyclists & Motorcyclists

PDF file icon   Galway City Council's Winter Maintenance Service Plan.

+ Driving In Icy Or Snowy Conditions

Greater levels of observation, anticipation and concentration are required when driving in icy conditions

  • Check local and national weather forecasts before setting out on a journey.
  • Clear your windows, mirrors and lights before you set out. Carry a screen scraper and de-icer – do not pour hot water on the windscreen as it may crack the glass.
  • Remove all snow from your vehicle, including the roof.
  • Have sunglasses in the car.
  • Use dipped headlights and fog lights.
  • Manoeuvre gently and don't steer too much.
  • Drive slowly and leave extra distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
  • When slowing down, use brakes gently – the brake lights will warn drivers travelling behind you.
  • Avoid harsh braking and acceleration.
  • Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a lower gear when travelling downhill and around bends.
  • If your car is rear wheel drive, the addition of extra weight in the boot will help your wheels grip.
  • If driving an automatic vehicle, familiarise yourself with the Manual Override function. This will allow you manually select an appropriate gear so as to avoid braking where that might lead to skidding.
  • To brake on ice or snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, using the clutch smoothly and allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently.
  • Heavy snowfall and rain, reduce visibility. Use dipped headlights and decrease speed smoothly.
  • Watch out for black ice, especially in sheltered / shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
  • One of the features of travelling on Black Ice is a sudden reduction in tyre noise.
  • Check tyres, including spare wheel, to ensure minimum tread depth of 1.6mm and correct tyre pressure.
  • Carry an Emergency Kit, e.g. High Visibility Vest, Tow Rope, a torch, a blanket, de-icing equipment, appropriate footwear, spare fuel.
+ Advice For Drivers In The Event Of A Minor Skid

Check if your vehicle has any of the following and know how they assist your driving -

  • ABS – Anti Lock Braking System
  • EBD – Electronic Brake force Distribution
  • TCS – Traction Control System
  • EBA – Electronic Brake Assist
  • ESP – Electronic Stability Programme
+ If your vehicle begins to skid
  • Identify the cause – It is either Too much braking, Too much steering, Too much acceleration, or a combination of one or all of these.
  • Remove the cause – Gently and Smoothly
  • If your car has ABS it will not skid under braking. If ABS is activated, keep your foot on the brake and steer as normal.
  • If your vehicle skids and slews sideways – turn the steering wheel in the same direction as the skid and ease off the accelerator at the same time.
  • Avoid over correction with too much steering.
  • Be ready for a secondary skid.
+ Driving During A Thaw
  • Remember that Black Ice may be lingering in sheltered spots and on bends and corners.
  • Grit residue from treated roads may remain on the road a few days after a thaw. This may present a hazard due to the risk of skidding on grit, particularly on bends and centre of the road where grit builds up.
  • Be aware of the risk of thawing ice and slush build up at road sides.
  • Keep an extra distance from the vehicle travelling in front, because the spray from the back of their vehicle onto your windscreen, can reduce visibility.
  • Keep windscreen-washer full with liquid.
  • Road surfaces may be damaged after freezing temperatures / thaw action. Watch out for hazards.
  • Motorists should keep a little extra distance when passing cyclists and motorcyclists, as they may have to take evasive action to avoid a hazard.
  • Slow down and keep a distance from the vehicle in front, expect the unexpected.
  • Be aware that there may be localised flooding during a thaw.
+ Driving In Strong Winds
  • Slow down and increase the distance from the vehicle in front.
  • The 2 second rule becomes the 4 second rule in bad weather and poor visibility.
  • If driving a high-sided vehicle be prepared when approaching exposed sections of roadway for the impact of the wind on the steering dynamics of the vehicle.
  • Avoid overtaking vehicles on exposed sections.
  • When passing motorcyclists, cyclists or pedestrians be prepared in case the wind blows them into your path.
  • Be alert to flying debris and fallen trees
  • Use hazard warning lights if you have to stop, to warn other drivers
+ Driving In Heavy Rainfall And Flooding
  • The 2 second rule becomes the 4 second rule because it takes longer to stop a vehicle on wet roads.
  • Slow down – do not drive at speed into flood-water – there may be objects concealed in the water or your vehicle may aquaplane leading to loss of control.
  • Before you drive through flood-water, ascertain how deep the water is to ensure your vehicle can get through safely.
  • After driving through flood-water, drive slowly with your foot on the brake pedal for a short distance – this helps to dry the brakes.
  • If aquaplaning occurs, the steering feels lights. Stay calm, keep the wheel straight, ease off the accelerator and don't brake. The vehicle reduces speed through deceleration, the water will be dispersed and grip will return.
  • Use dipped headlights during times of poor visibility.
  • Don't use fog lights, front or rear, unless visibility is reduced to less than 100 metres (the length of a football pitch).
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists – avoid spraying them.
  • Activate your hazard lights if you have to stop.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Take special care driving behind goods vehicles as they generate a considerable amount of spray which reduces visibility, allow distance between vehicles.
+ Driving In Fog
  • Drive with caution and at a low speed.
  • Increase the distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Use dipped headlights and front and rear fog lights. Dipped headlights direct light down onto the road and help other drivers to see you.
  • Ensure windscreen is clear of mist and condensation, use windscreen wipers as necessary.
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists.
  • Fog can be patchy, so even when conditions appear to clear, do not drive quickly.
  • In heavy fog, turn off radio, lower drivers window a fraction, so you can hear the presence of other traffic.
  • As you enter fog, check your mirrors and slow down. Use your foot brake lightly so that your lights warn following drivers.
  • Do not drive on the tail-lights of the vehicle in front (Target Fixing). This provides a false sense of security and can be dangerous (tailgating).
  • Beware of other drivers not using their headlights.
  • The same rules of slow down and keep your distance apply when driving on a motorway during foggy conditions.
  • As a rule of thumb, if you can clearly see the lights of the vehicle in front of you, you are probably too close to them.
+ Visual Aids For Drivers And Road Users

Use Warning Signs, Cat's Eyes, Road Markings and Junction Marker Posts as visual aids.

  • Warning signs are diamond shaped and warn drivers in advance as to the location of junctions, roundabouts, bends, corners and hill-crests.
  • Check for temporary signs that indicate the presence of roadworks.
  • Amber Cat's Eyes are located on the left where they denote the hard shoulder or nearside verge. They are also found on the Right edge of the Offside Lane of a Dual Carriageway outlining the Central Reservation.
  • White Cat's Eyes denote the lane divide on all roads.
  • Green Cat's Eyes on the left denote the location of a junction bellmouth.
  • Green and White luminous posts can be either side of a junction bellmouth.
  • Broken Yellow Lines on the drivers left denote they are on the National Route.
  • Solid Yellow Line on the drivers left denote they are on a Motorway.
  • Solid (Double and Single) and Broken White Lines denote lane division.
+ Severe Winter Weather – Motorcyclists & Cyclists
  • Consider cancelling your journey or take alternative transport rather than compromising your safety.
  • Visibility is reduced cyclists should wear a reflective belt or high visibility vest and ensure both front and rear lights are working correctly.
  • Cyclists should adhere to the requirement of a white light to the front and a red light to the rear.
  • Wear an approved helmet and consider eye protection.
  • Motorcyclists should avoid wearing a dark visor in any bad light conditions.
  • Other Road Users may not expect you and could therefore compromise your safety.



Severe weather challenges all of us. Activities that we take for granted can become difficult or even hazardous when severe weather occurs. However, by taking some simple steps you can reduce the impact of such events.

This winter-ready booklet gives information on being prepared, providing practical advice for coping during episodes of severe weather, as well as giving contact details of organisations and agencies that can provide guidance and assistance. The booklet was prepared by the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning.

The main message is simple - be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help should you need it.

An electronic version of this booklet is available on the website An Irish language edition is also available.

The website acts as an entry site to many useful websites. During severe weather events information will also be available on AERTEL page 592.

Office of Emergency Planning
Department of Defence

Be Winter Ready – Roads & Paths

PDF file icon   Map of Salting Routes PDF file icon   Galway City Council's Winter Maintenance Service Plan.

+ Roads & Paths in your Area

In the event of severe Winter weather, Galway City Council will prioritise the salting/gritting of:

  • the main access/commuter routes in and out of the city
  • public transport routes
  • the city centre and pedestrian areas
  • areas around schools

For more detailed information on Galway City Council's Winter Service Plan and a map of salting routes please refer to Galway City Council's Winter Maintenance Service Plan.

Due to various limitations, it is not always possible for Galway City Council Road Services to ensure the salting/gritting of all roadways and footpaths within Galway City.

However where resources permit, we will endeavour to work with community groups, such as residents associations, to provide a supply of grit for their area so that they can assist with keeping their footpaths and estates clear.

Should a severe weather situation arise, Community Groups may contact Galway City Council to request grit by contacting Customer Service on 091-536400 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) or by emailing

The following information should be provided for Residents' Associations/Community Groups when making a request for grit:

  • Contact Name for Area/Estate
  • Contact Address
  • Contact Telephone Number
  • Location at which the grit should be delivered
  • Community Group Name/Resident Association
+ Tips on Clearing Ice & Snow Yourself

There is no law preventing members of the public from clearing ice and snow or spreading grit outside your home or in public places – as long as it is carried out in a safe manner and does not cause a hazard.

The following tips may be of assistance:

  • Only undertake the task if you are reasonably fit to do so and do not have an underlying medical condition.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing
  • Store grit in a suitable location so that it does not create a hazard.
  • Use a shovel – specific for the job or a garden shovel
  • Clear ice/snow early in the day: Loose snow is easier to remove than hard snow which has packed together from people walking on it
  • Use grit or salt – NOT water: If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice which is invisible and very slippery.
  • Make a path down the middle of the area being cleared so that you have a clear surface to walk on.
  • Take care where you move the snow: When you are shovelling snow, take care to move it to a location that will not create a hazard e.g. ensure that it doesn't block people's paths, drains or traffic.
  • Prevent slips: Pay extra attention to clear ice and snow from steps and steep pathways – you might need to use more grit or salt on these areas
+ Pedestrian Safety
  • Do not venture out in severe weather unless necessary.
  • Wear suitable footwear and clothing.