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Keep an overnight bag in the office

For the last few days, there’s been a lot of bad weather across the UK. The Beast from the East has caused snow, subzero temperatures, and problems on the transport network. Many trains have been delayed or cancelled, and hundreds of drivers have been trapped in their cars. The Met Office have even issued rare red snow warnings, meaning possible loss of life.

In such bad weather, the best thing to do is to avoid travelling. If you usually work in an office, it’s better to work from home or skip work entirely – or if you decide to go in, leave plenty of extra travel time. Sometimes you can’t avoid going to work, so here’s a bit of advice:

Keep an overnight bag in your workplace.

It doesn’t have to be large, but enough that you could sleep in or near your workplace if you really had to. For me, the limit is “could I walk home quickly (less than 15 minutes) in foul weather” – if not, I assume I might get stuck at the office one day, and prepare accordingly.

Is that fun? No. But in weeks like this, it may be safer than trying to make the journey home.

The sort of things you might want:

Some of these are things I carry anyway – for example, I usually have paracetamol in my bag – but I like to have a ring-fenced supply just in case. Sometimes, you can venture out for supplies – but depending on the weather and where you work, that may not always be possible or safe. In both cases, it’s much easier to have it pre-packed.

I’ve had a bag like this for years; so far I’ve only used it once. During Storm Doris last year, all the train lines from London to Cambridge were knocked out, and I slept on the floor of my office. (It helps that we have showers!) And although I’ve never used it since, it’s been reassuring to know that it’s there if I need it.

This is the sort of thing you hope you never have to use, but when bad conditions strike, it’s really nice to have it handy.