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Stormy Mondays: How to protect your house from bad weather

The clocks have gone back and this signals a time of potential storms – and bad weather and buildings insurance make poor bedfellows

We all should have buildings insurance and bad weather is inevitable sooner or later but why go through the hassle of claiming and paying an excess when a few simple steps can help stave off disaster. It is a good time to remember not so long ago when storms ravaged through the South and East of England and learn a lesson on how to protect yourself and your prized possessions.

The St Jude storm on 28th October 2013 devastated lives and homes.  As gusts of up to 99 miles per hour ripped through swathes of the country, hitting the East coast in particular, four people died, 60,000 homes were left without power*, and  waters caused  more than 7,800 homes to be flooded**. 

  Winter Proof home pic

Fortunately, storms on the scale of St. Jude are very rare but severe weather events are becoming more frequent and it’s an issue homeowners need to consider as we head into the winter months. Before the bad weather sets in it’s a good idea to check the exterior of your home for signs of wear and tear – are there any loose roof tiles?  Are drains, drain pipes and rain gulleys clear?

If you have a flat roof that is more than 15 years old, take a good look at it for signs of wear as it may be reaching the end of its life.  If there is any danger of a storm lifting up the roofing material ensure this gets fixed as soon as possible as insurance won’t provide cover for wear and tear. If you have trees near your home, check for any loose branches and make sure they are removed. Once you are aware that a storm is on the way, take the following steps:

• Ensure any debris is removed from outside and that any loose items are secured or stored inside. For example garden furniture, washing lines and TV aerials.

• Know how and where to turn off the water, electricity and gas supplies in your home.

• 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, to ensure everyone is safe.

• Storms can result in power cuts, so make a storm kit which includes candles, torches, necessary medication, food, water and blankets etc.

• Make sure your mobile phone has been charged and is with you.

• Store your insurance policy and emergency contact numbers in a safe accessible place.
After the storm…

• If there is damage to your home, contact  your insurer as soon as possible. The Association of British Insurers recommends that you contact your insurer within 24 hours. It may be that your insurer will require evidence of the damage and receipts of emergency repairs, so it’s good to be in the know.

• Depending on the severity of the winds, the post-storm clean-up can vary from small repairs to much bigger ones, so when it is safe you may wish to make a list of the repairs that need to be made.

• 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. Leave these for a professional to fix.

* http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/who/how/case-studies/st-judes-day-storm-oct-2013
 ** https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-floods-2014-government-response

By Steve McDowell

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