Is there anything we Brits love more than talking about the weather? Whilst it’s often little more than the focus of smalltalk around the office, occasionally the weather can become a far more serious matter. We’re fortunate enough here in the UK that extreme weather events are fairly rare, but we’re no strangers to formidable storms, which can have not only expensive, but also dangerous consequences. As we head into the winter, the likelihood of such events will increase, so read on for our advice on safeguarding your home against storm damage.
Long-term protection: maintenance is key
Maintaining your property year-round is perhaps the best way of reducing the risk of storm damage. There are a few areas you might want to regularly check up on throughout the year to make sure they’re in tip-top condition:
1. The roof
It is part of the role of a roof to literally weather a storm, keeping the interior of the house safe against the elements. However, as the years go by, the regular barrage of strong winds and pouring rain will take its toll, reducing the roof’s structural integrity. A tell-tale sign of weakness in your roof can be loose or cracked tiles, which should be addressed as soon as possible by a professional. Not only can such tiles blow away in a severe storm, posing a serious hazard, but they can also allow rain to penetrate the roof, possibly causing leaks and water damage to your property. Did you know that some insurers might not cover you for a claim caused by a defective roof, especially if it’s over twenty years old? It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so have your roof assessed by a professional if it’s showing signs of ageing.
2. Gutters & pipes
Making sure your gutters are clear and clean is a simple but highly effective way of reducing the risk of storm damage to your home, as any blockages can cause water to build up and potentially seep inside. Over weeks and months, it’s easy for guttering to become clogged with twigs and leaves, especially if it’s situated directly beneath a tree. If it’s safe to do so, you could use a ladder to check these yourself and clear them out where necessary, but we’d recommend you contact a professional in the interest of safety.
3. Nearby trees
Trees in close proximity to the house can be a hazard, as strong winds can bring down loose branches, which can pose a serious threat not just to your home but also to life. For anything other than a light trim, it’s probably worth speaking to a tree surgeon, who’ll also be able to assess the tree itself for any signs that it might be particularly vulnerable to a storm. If you do any of the pruning yourself, make sure you clear away the debris, as these can become projectiles in strong winds. Remember, though, that if the tree you need to prune is actually on your neighbour’s side of the fence, it’s probably best to ask them first.
When a storm is forecast
Whilst long-term maintenance will help significantly to reduce the overall risk of damage during a storm, there are a few measures we recommend you take when a storm is imminent:
1. Secure your garden
Any loose furniture, fixtures or equipment will be very vulnerable to strong winds, and can become a hazardous projectile if blown away. Such items to consider include garden furniture like tables and chairs, barbecues, trampolines, bins and ornaments. Furniture and smaller items can be placed in the shed or garage if you have space, and if not, then tether these in place. For anything heavy or with a large surface area, like a trampoline, you can purchase a heavy-duty anchoring kit to decrease the chances of it being blown away. If you don’t have one of these, disassembling the trampoline before the storm hits might be worthwhile.
2. Keep your car safe
If you have access to a garage, store your car inside ahead of a storm to keep it safe from the elements and any objects that might have been picked up by strong winds. If you don’t have a garage, don’t worry – just do your best to park your car away from any overhanging branches or other objects that could be vulnerable to strong winds to reduce the risk of it being damaged.
3. Lock up
Make sure to close and lock all windows and doors, particularly those on the side of the house facing the wind, and don’t forget about the shed and/or garage doors too. If you have window shutters, you should close and fasten these before you lock your windows.
Try not to panic if a storm is forecast in your area. Taking these simple precautions could help reduce the risk of damage to the things most precious to you, but remember, your safety is paramount. If anything is unfortunately damaged, wait until after the storm to address it.