| 8.2°C Dublin

Here's how to survive the Big Freeze - get a barbie

IT SOUNDS like something from a Simpsons sketch but the government says prepare for the next Big Freeze . . . by buying a barbecue.

The bewildering message advises citizens should have "barbecue trays" on hand when the winter freeze strikes.

The recommendation came as long-range weather forecasts predict Ireland is set to endure months of frigid temperatures and snowfalls from as early as November until January.

The Dept of the Environment says it's standing by the advice to use barbecues for cooking if their gas or electricity was cut.

What other tricks have the civil servants come up with to help us survive? Their campaign of "household and community resilience" says:

•Have disposable BBQ trays at home in case the cooker stops working due to power cuts

•Make sure you know how to turn off the water. This avoids damage if pipes freeze

•Have a supply of winter fuel handy to avoid the cold if the heating stops working

•Buy a shovel and have a bag of salt in stock to keep paths clear and safe

•Stock up on batteries to keep torches powered

•Have a water container or two in the event of cut-offs.

Last winter's cold spell was the third severe weather event to hit Ireland in 15 months.

The bitter weather came after widespread flooding in November, 2009 and a big freeze in December, 2009.

They caused €750m of damage between them.

The review, conducted by the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management, notes that the response from emergency staff was excellent, but it says it was doubtful that round-the-clock efforts could have been sustained had the adverse weather continued.

A winter public information campaign was advised.

Plans should be drawn up to make sure that food continued to be delivered to snowed-in local communities.

The 62 recommendations include one that grit should be provided to local communities to help keep roads open and footpaths clear and local authorities should identify priority routes.