Though the causes of climate change are much debated, it seems that the United Kingdom is now experiencing more frequent severe weather episodes. Most of us can recall the floods of June and July 2007 and the devastation caused by record rainfall in Cumbria in November of last year. The heavy snowfalls in December 2009 and again in January this year caused major disruption, made worse by a national shortage of salt to help clear roads and highways. Inevitably these weather events increase the likelihood of disruptions to utilities and power failures in particular. Such widespread emergencies stretch the resources of the blue-light services and other responding agencies whose top priority must always be life-saving activities. It is in such circumstances the impact on communities may be alleviated by a degree of prior planning both by householders and communities. Such planning has clear application too in more localised emergencies, particularly those that might result in evacuation from homes.
The organisations that respond to emergencies such as Police, Fire and Ambulance services, the Environment Agency , NHS and local authorities have produced a booklet entitled "Are you ready?" aimed at providing clear practical advice to help householders prepare for and respond to an emergency.