The winter months increase the risk of high winds and extended wet periods. But you can help keep damage to a minimum by taking some simple steps in advance.
Taking preventative measures to help your home withstand high winds, heavy rain and generally stormy weather is much easier than trying to fix damage afterwards. Autumn or early winter are the ideal times to check your property is ready for anything winter has to throw at it.
Start at the top
The first place to start is the roof – if necessary, call in a professional to check if there are any tiles missing or loose. Pay particular attention to the garage, sheds and flat roofs: wear and tear to these roofs may mean that they have become weakened and unable to support additional weight from snow, ice or broken branches.
Secondly, make sure your gutters, gullies and drains are clear of leaves and other debris; this will allow heavy rainfall and melted ice to pass through quickly and effectively. If drainpipes and gutters aren’t cleaned, water can become trapped in the cold weather and cause these to crack and burst.
Prepare for high winds
Before the first of the winter storms arrive, have a look around your property for any overhanging tree branches and loose material that could damage your home in strong winds. Tree branches can be cut back and loose garden furniture can be secured or stored inside.
If you have been warned or believe that a serious storm is on its way:
- Ensure any debris is removed from outside and that any loose items – from furniture to bins or bikes – are secured or stored inside.
- Make sure that all windows and doors are shut, and locked where possible.
- Secure your car in a garage if possible, but at the very least park it away from any objects including trees that may fall and damage it.
- Organise where your family and any pets will be during the expected storm time, to ensure everyone is safe.
- Storms can result in power cuts, so make a storm kit which includes torches, necessary medication, food, water and blankets.
Once the dust has settled
Depending on the severity of the winds, the post-storm clean-up can vary from small repairs to significant clean-up operations.
- Avoid standing near walls, buildings and trees that may be prone to collapse following the storm.
- Be aware of any loose electrical wires and cables that may have been damaged. Report them immediately, but leave them for a professional to fix.
- Contact your insurance company immediately if you think you need to make a claim: take pictures and make a note of any damage.
As a final piece of preparation, make sure that you have the contact details for anyone you might need to contact in an emergency, such as electricians, plumbers, roofers, and your insurer’s claim helpline.