PEOPLE should keep an old-fashioned phone and landline as well as a torch in their home in case another ‘Beast from the East’ hits, East Lothian’s emergency planner has said.

Severe weather is the biggest risk to people living in East Lothian, according to Sandy Baptie.

And he has issued advice ahead of a one-day workshop to help communities prepare for any future emergencies.

It includes going back to old-fashioned handsets in a time when more people rely on mobile phones.

Mr Baptie, East Lothian Council’s emergency planning, risk and resilience manager, has been visiting community councils and groups in the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorm, which brought much of the country to a standstill in February and March this year.

Heavy snowfalls and strong winds caused chaos on the roads and left many people stranded in their homes.

It also saw a surge in community spirit, with tales of people helping neighbours and looking after the more vulnerable people.

Now Mr Baptie is hoping that spirit will help all communities prepare a Community Resilience Plan which they can use in case another severe weather front hits the county.

And he has issued some advice for people to prepare in their own home for what could happen.

He said: “Severe weather is the biggest risk to East Lothian.

“Being prepared for it is important and people can do things themselves, such as keeping an old-fashioned phone in their house in case mobile signal is lost, having a torch to hand in case power goes.

“It is also important to stock up on food when warnings that severe weather is on its way are issued.”

More than 120 people are expected to attend the community resilience workshop at The Brunton, Musselburgh, on Saturday.

The one-day event, which is being funded by EDF Energy and the Scottish Government, will bring together representatives from community councils, groups and schools.

Advice on a range of aspects of drawing up community resilience plans will be available, including ensuring groups who take on responsibility are covered by insurance.

It will also inform people of services they can sign up to with energy companies to ensure they receive a phone call if power goes out.

North Berwick Community Council, which already has a plan and implemented it successfully during the Beast from the East, will be there to talk about how they did it and what worked.

Mr Baptie hopes the event will result in community plans from across the county, with each one appointing a Single Person of Contact or SPOC.

He said: “The idea of a SPOC is that there is one point of contact between each community and the council so we can get information to them and they can let us know what is happening, for example if power has gone out in one area.

“The plans are about drawing up lists of vulnerable people in the community, finding out who has a 4x4 and can get medicine to people or take them to hospital or the doctor.

“It is about being prepared. Communities can do so much together and we saw that in the resilience shown during the Beast from the East. We want to harness it and make sure we are ready the next time.”

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