Introduction to specific risks

1. Introduction

We do not know when something may happen so it is always a good idea to be prepared.

Most incidents will be dealt with by emergency services, local authorities and utility companies. However there may be occasions when you will need to take action yourselves.

The Community Risk Register (CRR) describes potential hazards in with the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. 

2. Air pollution

Air pollution can cause both short term and long term effects on health and many people are concerned about pollution in the air that they breathe. These people may include:

  • People with heart or lung conditions, or other breathing problems, whose health may be affected by air pollution.
  • Parents, carers and healthcare professionals who look after someone whose health is sensitive to pollution.
  • People who want to know more about air pollution, its causes, and what they can do to help reduce it.
  • The scientific community and students, who may need data on air pollution levels, either now or in the past, throughout the UK.

Air pollution forecast

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) provide air pollution forecasting. 

Current Air Quality Index / Forecast
Daily Air Quality Index – recommended actions and health advice

Aero allergens

Aero allergens, such as pollen, can cause hay fever. The Met Office provide a pollen forecast

Pollen forecast map for your area

3. Avian Flu

There have been several cases of Avian Flu in both wild birds and poultry across Europe since November 2016. Information about Avian Flu can be found on the DEFRA website Avian Influenza page.  

Information for those who need to report an animal notifiable disease (including Avian Flu) is provided on the DEFRA animal notifiable disease webpages.

Avian Influenza is an infectious disease of birds, not humans.  Public Health England provide public health advice on Avian Influenza (PHE).


Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) announced - 11 November 2020

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading.

This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to:

  • restrict access for non-essential people on their sites
  • ensure workers change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures
  • ensure site vehicles are cleaned and disinfected regularly

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese are also urged to strengthen their biosecurity measures in order to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK.

Risk to public health

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The prevention zone means bird keepers across the country must:

  • ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources
  • feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
  • minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
  • clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy
  • reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to Defra helpline 03459 33 55 77.

Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice and report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

New measures introduced for bird keepers

The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.

The new housing measures, which will come into force on 14 December, mean that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

These housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November. The AIPZ means that all poultry and captive bird keepers need to take extra precautions, such as cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, and workers changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures.


4. In a Winter Emergency

During wintry weather visit this page for up to the minute information on how the weather is affecting our services.

For information on how to prepare for winter, see our Get ready for winter page.


For information about closures to services in Buckinghamshire (including schools and pre-schools), please see our closures page.

Closures in Buckinghamshire


Public bus disruption


Salting the roads

Winter Travel advice

Water companies

In the event of a burst/frozen pipe please contact:

Thames Water: Leakline on 0800 714 614, urgent sewer-related: 0800 316 9800

Anglian Water: Emergencies (blocked drains and flooding) to 03457 145 145, Leaks to  0800 771 881

Affinity Water: Emergencies 24 hour line:  0345 357 2407, Leaks leakspotters line:  0800 376 5325 (24 hours)

Power cuts

In an emergency call 105 

View our page on Power Outages

Western Power Distribution

UK Power Networks

Scottish & Southern Energy


Viwe our pages on How to deal with a flood 

Current Flooding situation

Weather warnings - Met Office

River levels in England


5. Cybercrime

Cybercrime is a fast-growing area of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that know no borders, either physical or virtual.

These crimes can be divided into three broad areas:

  • Attacks against computer hardware and software, for example, botnets, malware and network intrusion;
  • Financial crimes and corruption, such as online fraud, penetration of online financial services and phishing;
  • Abuse, in the form of grooming or 'sexploitation', especially crimes against children.

For more Information:

6. Drought

Droughts happen when there is a long stretch of time with little or no rainfall and can lead to a water shortage. 

Currently there are no water restrictions in Buckinghamshire. We should still be wise with our water usage. Find out more from Waterwise.

Flooding during a drought

In a drought the ground is harder and more compressed. During heavy rain, water runs straight off the land, into rivers and streams. These can then burst their banks and cause flooding.

7. Flooding

View our guidance on what to do, and what not to do, before during and after a flood.

8. Heatwaves

Extreme heat is dangerous.  During hot weather, when temperatures remain high for more than a few days, it can prove fatal, particularly among certain at-risk groups. In one hot spell in London in August 2003, deaths among people aged over 75 rose by 60 per cent. 

Keep cool:

  • Stay out of the heat, especially between 11am and 3pm
  • Walk in the shade, use sunscreen, and wear a hat
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothes

Cool yourself down:

  • Have plenty of cold drinks. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which dehydrate you
  • Eat cold foods eg salads and fruit with high water content
  • Take cool showers, cool baths or cool body washes
  • Sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck

Around you:

  • Keep a thermometer in your front room to monitor the temperature
  • Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day. Open windows at night when the temperature has dropped
  • Have your loft and cavity walls insulated – this helps keep the heat in when it is cold and out when it is hot
  • Turn off non essential lights and electrical equipment - they generate heat
  • Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air
  • If possible, move to a cooler room, especially for sleeping
  • Keep pets indoors where it is cool – they can be affected by the sun too. Make sure they have plenty of cool, clean drinking water

Look out for others:

  • Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool
  • Ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars
  • Check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day 
  • Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or if further help is needed

The Met Office will provide warning of anticipated periods of hot weather over a certain temperature and duration.  They warn the NHS who alert the media.

NHS heatwave plan

Some factors that increase an individual's risk during a heatwave:

  • Older age - especially women over 75 years old, or those living on their own who are socially isolated or in a care home
  • Chronic and severe illness - including heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory or renal insufficiency, Parkinson's disease or severe mental illness.  Medications that potentially affect renal function, the body's ability to sweat, thermoregulation or electrolyte balance can make this group more vulnerable to the effects of heat
  • Inability to adapt behaviour to keep cool - for example, having Alzheimer's, a disability, being bed bound, too much alcohol, babies and the very young
  • Environmental factors and overexposure

In a moderate heatwave, it is mainly the high-risk groups who are affected.  In an extreme heatwave normally fit and health people can also be affected.

9. Human infectious diseases

Flu outbreak

An Influenza pandemic, like Swine Flu is caused when a new strain of flu emerges, which people have limited or no immunity to. This means the flu is more likely to spread. 

What can you do?

Preventing the spread of germs is the best way to slow the spread of diseases.

You can help to protect yourself and your family by:

  • Ensuring everyone washes their hands regularly with soap and water
  • Cleaning surfaces regularly

You can prevent a virus spreading to others by:

  • Always carrying tissues and using them to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Binning the tissues as soon as possible
  • Washing your hands regularly

Catch it, Bin it, Kill it, is an easy way to remember this.

Zika Virus

Public Health England has published information on the Zika Virus.

10. Power outages

If there is a power supply disruption to your home you will need to notify the power distributor so they are aware of the extent of the problem. This may be difficult if you have a digital home phone. Therefore it is advisable to keep an analogue phone (one which plugs straight into the phone socket and doesn`t need another power source) as a backup or use a mobile phone or the internet via battery powered computer. The companies contact details should be on your bill.  (Please note that this may well be a different company to that which supplies your electricity and to whom you pay your bills).

In Buckinghamshire there are three Power distribution companies. Covering part of the north of the county is Western Power Distribution. Covering part of the south of the county is Scottish and Southern Energy and covering the remaining area is UK Power Networks. All three companies have the facility to check about, and notify them of, a power cut on their websites.

There is a generic, national number for reporting power cuts, faults or emergencies - 105.

Western Power Distribution
0800 6783 105 for faults and emergencies (or 105)

0800 096 3080 for all general enquiries

Follow on twitter @wpduk  

UK Power Networks
0800 31 63 105 or 105
Follow on twitter @UKPowerNetworks

Scottish & Southern Energy
0800 072 7282 or 105

Follow on twitter @ssencommunity

Additionally, if you think you may need extra care or support during a power cut then you should sign on to their Priority Services Register. Although, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they can get your power back on more quickly, it does mean that they will offer you additional help and support, and could involve a visit from the RVS or Red Cross, if the power will be out for some time, to make sure that you are ok.

Who can sign up for the Priority Services Register?

  • Customers who are dependent on medical equipment
  • Customers who are chronically sick
  • Customers with a disability
  • Customers who are blind or visually impaired
  • Customers with young babies
  • Elderly customers
  • A nursing or residential home
  • Any other case that you would like to be considered

Use the links below to register.

Western Power Distribution Priority Services

UK Power Networks Priority Services

Scottish & Southern Energy Priority Services 
Or call S&SE Careline on 0800 294 3259

11. Terrorism

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism against the United Kingdom and its people. The current UK Threat Level can be found on the MI5 website

The National Counter Terrorist Security Office (NaCTSO) and the UK Government have provided the following guidance:

For those going abroad on holiday, NaCTSO have released a Stay Safe advisory video, accompanied by a leaflet.

“This film is four minutes long and outlines key actions to take if terrorists strike.

“While there is no specific intelligence that British holidaymakers will be targeted this summer the launch of the film, and supporting information, is part of a general campaign to raise awareness among the public. It highlights the steps people can take to minimise the impact of an attack – including knowing the local emergency services number”.

Information about the support available for people affected by the attacks in London Bridge and Borough Market on 3rd June 2017:

London Bridge and Borough Market attacks, June 2017: support for people affected


Anti-Terrorist Hotline

Please call: 0800 789 321