A DROP in temperature is predicted to bring a cold, icy feel to the week ahead putting water and outdoor pipes at risk, according to South East Water.

Households and businesses have already experienced burst water pipes this winter where external pipes were not lagged to protect them from the bitter cold.

Steve Andrews, head of operations at South East Water said: "Burst pipes are a very unpleasant and inconvenient problem and when they happen inside the boundary of a property are usually the responsibility of the housebuilder to repair.

"To avoid a burst water pipe, home owners can take some easy steps to protect pipes and taps by lagging them with our free insulation kits and tap protectors available from our website or by buying industry approved lagging from DIY stores."

South East Water provides drinking water to 2.2 million customers across parts of Berkshire, Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire and are urging people to take measures to prevent pipes freezing over.

Some tips which may help prevent tap problems is to know where the internal stop tap is located and for people to test it works so the water can be turned off quickly in an emergency.

Also, the head of operations advises people to write down a number of a local plumber to save time in an emergency. The online directory WaterSafe is the plumbing industries national accreditation body with a list of approved plumbers.

Homeowners should also note that when absent from a property, leave the heating low or drain down systems, insulate pipes, repair dripping taps, inspect loft insulation, make sure the internal stop tap works and check on elderly neighbours to make sure they are safe from the cold this winter.

To get your free winter kit, head to southeastwater.co.uk/winter or call 03332079030 for a qualified plumber.