We use our houses to protect ourselves from the elements. But who is protecting your home? Extreme weather conditions in the UK are costing homeowners thousands of pounds a year. We paid out over £120m for damage caused by the 2013 floods alone. What steps can you take to keep your home safe from extreme conditions?
We’ve put together this interactive extreme weather checklist with advice on how to defend your home from floods, storms and snow. These tips are designed to help you prevent damage. Just click on each area of the house to read the advice.
Outside the house
If you live in an area with a high flood risk you will want to protect your home and belongings as much as possible to limit the damage and costs you might incur.
Investing in door guards for the external doors on the ground floor will prevent dirty flood water from entering your home and soiling your furniture and possessions.
Flood guards are largely used to manage flash flooding and can easily be fitted over your doors. They can be made to size for any door and can be fitted above the doorstep and sealed on either side of the door to prevent water getting through.
Even if all other points of possible entry are covered, such as windows and doors, floodwater is still very likely to find its way into your property via ventilation bricks.
To protect from flooding, normal bricks, which are usually made from clay, can be replaced easily by plastic air bricks that automatically self-seal if flood water tries to penetrate your property.
The garage is usually a particularly cold part of the house but also often a place where a lot of important plumbing and electrical equipment is found.
- If you are away for a prolonged period of time it’s a good idea to turn off your inside stop tap and drain the system, this way there is no water in the pipes to freeze.
- Keep your car in the garage to prevent any damage to the engine or locks that might be caused by frost or cold.
- Make sure that everyone in the household knows where they can turn off the gas and electricity at the mains – usually found in the garage.
Low and fragile garage roofs, conservatories or porches may struggle to bear the weight of a lot of snow which could cause damage. Snow that comes loose from roofs could also cause guttering to buckle or even snap if there’s heavy snow fall.
If a storm or gale is forecast to hit your area, it’s wise to check that nothing could fall from your roof and cause damage.
Chimneys should be surveyed (with caution!) to make sure that there is no risk of them coming loose and falling on anything or anyone in the event of a storm. As you check the state of the chimney you should also make sure that there are no roof tiles that are loose. Also ensure that satellites and aerials are secure and are unlikely to fall or come unfixed should a storm or gale occur.
The garden is often a place that gets overlooked when extreme weather is forecast as people focus on the property itself. However, there are a number of precautions you can take in your garden to minimise damage to your home.
- Secure garden furniture by moving it into the garage or fastening it down with tarpaulin to avoid either losing it to the strong winds or having to worry about it blowing into any windows.
- Make sure that any sheds or outbuildings you might have in your garden are watertight and make repairs if not.
- Cut down any tree branches or shrubbery close to windows, especially any that are close to power lines or windows.
- Secure fences so that they don’t come loose and cause damage to your property or any neighbouring properties during a storm.
If you own a car it’s likely to be one of your most valuable possessions so you want to keep it well-protected and if you are driving during a storm you need to be prepared as well.
- Keep an emergency kit in your car that contains essentials such as a shovel, warning triangle, torch and batteries, blanket, de-icer, mobile phone charger, breakdown membership card and some cereal bars.
- Put lubricant on the locks and door seals to prevent them from freezing over.
- Windscreen chips can be dangerous during storms or freezing weather, so it’s a good idea to get them repaired before the winter season.
- Park your car in the garage during a storm or gale if possible.
The effects of extreme weather can take time to show. Check your house regularly throughout the year, no matter what the weather. Regular checks will help you to find problems earlier and help you make the changes quickly. For a step-by-step guide to checking your home go to our checklist for potential issues and simply tick as you go.
Our home insurance policies will cover most of the damage caused by extreme weather. If you are unsure you can log in and check your policy. If you would like to make a claim please call our 24h claim line on 0345 030 6945* or fill in our claims form.
The cost of calls to 03 prefixed numbers are charged at national call rates (charges may vary dependent on your network provider) and are usually included in inclusive minute plans from landlines and mobiles
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