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7 December 2011
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Henry Makiwa 020 7877 7479 /
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• And survey also shows that only 1 in 5 prepared this year – many could   see Christmas wrecked
• British Red Cross urges nation to join its “Ready for Winter” campaign
• Public warned to arm themselves with essentials kit bag

Figures from the British Red Cross today show that severe winter weather spoiled Christmas for almost half the population last year.

The figures come alongside research showing that only 1 in 5 have undertaken any preparation in case they are caught out in dangerous conditions on the road. Fewer than 2 in 5 have taken steps to prepare themselves in the home for severe weather this year. 

The statistics are a real concern given that as many as 25,000 people die because of winter weather every year. 

The survey found that the most common problems caused by winter weather last year were:

• Road closures – 29% of respondents
• Being unable to see friends and family – 24%
• Being stranded in the home – 14%
• Illness – 13%
In response, the British Red Cross is today urging the public to join its Ready for Winter campaign. Through the campaign, the public are being urged to arm themselves with an essential kit bag. It is hoped that these simple precautions will help minimise inconvenience this Christmas if people find themselves stranded at home or on the road.

Vital items include:
• A list of emergency contact numbers
• Battery operated torch and spare batteries (or a wind up torch)
• Any essential medication, some toiletries and a first aid kit
• Three days’ supply of bottled water and ready-to-eat foods that keep
• Copies of important documents like insurance policies and birth   certificates
• Pencil, paper, a penknife and a whistle

The objective is also for the public to protect themselves against accident and serious illness this winter through use of these items- and in turn lighten the load on the emergency services. In addition, the organisation is this week launching a first aid app which gives advice on eighteen everyday first aid situations.

While some may associate the British Red Cross with relief in the developing world, a vital part of its role is to support the emergency services in the UK.

This winter a fleet of vehicles will be on standby to help them cope with any extra demand, like responding to 999 calls or delivering organs for transplants. Loaned by Land Rover, the vehicles will be used over the festive period.

In conjunction with Populus, 2,000 adults were polled by the British Red Cross. 42% revealed that they had their Christmas adversely affected by winter weather last year. 38%said they had taken steps to prepare inside the home for severe weather this year – and this was true for 22% outside the home.

The survey also revealed that the public are most worried about how the elderly will cope with the weather this Christmas, with 82% showing concern.

Sir Nick Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said:

“Last Christmas many were caught on the hop by the extreme winter weather. None of us can predict what conditions will be like this year. But what we can all do is take a set of small, practical steps to ensure that we are prepared.”


For further information or interview requests, please contact

Nick Hargrave – 0207 842 0122/

Kenny Ferguson – 0207 842 0237 /


1. About the Survey
 2,000 people were polled by Populus for the British Red Cross between  25 and 27 November.

The survey found:
• 42% of GB adults had their Christmas ruined or adversely affected by  severe winter weather last year
• Only 38% of respondents have taken steps to prepare for severe winter  weather this Christmas in the home, and only 22% have prepared for  such a scenario outside the home
• The main negative effects of the poor weather were the closure of major  and minor road (29% of respondents), being unable to see friends and  family (24%), being isolated in the home (14%) and getting ill (13%)
• People are most concerned about the effect of severe winter weather on  the elderly (82% of respondents), followed by the homeless (76%) and  then their immediate family (46%)

2. About the Ready for Winter campaign
The Ready for Winter campaign has been launched by the British Red Cross to encourage the public to prepare themselves for severe winter weather.
The campaign calls for the public to arm themselves with a small but essential kit bag:
What should go in your bag at home?
• Torch
• Battery radio
• Toiletries / first aid kit
• Long-life food and bottles of water
• Important documents (eg. insurance policy)
• List of emergency contact numbers (see right for downloadable templates)
• Spare keys to your home / car
• Pencil, paper, penknife and whistle
What should go in your bag on the road?
• Torch
• Battery radio
• Mobile phone
• Cash and credit cards
• List of emergency contact numbers (see right for downloadable  templates)
• Winter boots, warm clothing and waterproofs
• Ready-to-eat food, bottled water and warm drink in flask

3. About the British Red Cross
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.