WIRRAL residents are being warned to brace themselves as snow threatens to sweep through the borough.

The Met Office have advised that Merseyside is set to experience sub-zero temperatures over the next few days which could result in hazardous roads for drivers and pedestrians.

Police are warning people to drive with “extreme caution” and to leave room between them and the car in front.

Sergeant Paul Mountford said: "I would urge motorists to use their common sense as they make their way out in the morning. Motorists should reduce their speed to ensure they drive safely in these conditions.

"It can take 10 times longer to stop on an icy road than on a dry road, so people need to keep this in mind.

"Drivers should leave plenty of room between them and the car in front, drive slower than usual and use their gears to slow down where possible rather than their brakes, pay attention to the road traffic signs on the motorways and listen to local radio stations for regular traffic updates.

"I would also like to remind pedestrians that many footpaths will be very icy and so great care should be taken when out and about.

"While this cold weather continues we would also urge people to check on the welfare of family, friends and neighbours, particularly those that are vulnerable or elderly."

Roads are to be gritted from 7pm tonight, with council highways contractor on stand-by round the clock.

A Wirral Council spokesman said: "There are ten full-size gritters and two mini-gritters available for use for Highways Winter Service operations this winter and snow ploughs will also be available for use with each of the full-size gritters.

"The ten main gritting routes are continually assessed to ensure that major bus routes, certain school routes and strategic vehicle routes across Wirral are treated.

"There are 286 grit bins installed and stocked up across the borough which supplement the work the gritters are doing out on the strategic and main roads."

Merseyside Police have issued the following advice: Before starting your journey fully defrost and clear the car windscreen and windows - do not leave the car unattended whilst you do this and do not leave the keys in the ignition if your are physically scraping the windows of ice.

Ensure the screen wash is topped up, isn't frozen and the windscreen wipers and tyres are in good condition.

Leave more time for your journey. Drive slowly and carefully to take account of the icy conditions, leaving a good distance between your car and any vehicles in front of you.

To brake on ice or snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently.

Be prepared - dress in warm clothing, put a shovel in the boot of the car, and if you are going on a long journey a Thermos flask with a hot drink in and some food will help if you find yourself stuck in traffic for any length of time.

Drivers who break down should always call their breakdown service provider in the first instance, unless they believe they or other drivers may be at risk of harm.

Away from the roads, people are also asked to check on the welfare of friends, family and neighbours who may be more vulnerable during the cold weather, especially the elderly

Pedestrians must take extra care too, especially those taking their children out, walking their dogs, listening to music players or talking on their mobile telephones.

You should make sure you are highly visible to other road users and take extra care when crossing busy roads.

Cross at zebra crossings or traffic lights, do not cross between parked cars. Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips, when walking in dusk or darkness.