Easy ways to protect your home this winter

How to prepare your property for bad weather

When the weather turns cold outside, there’s something romantic about being all snug inside. However, when you’re not prepared for bad weather to strike it can be anything but relaxing. 

Poor winter weather, such as strong wind, snow and ice can pose risks to not only your home but to your belongings and personal safety too. However, if you take action in advance of a bad weather forecast you could help to minimise (or even prevent) damage, disruption and stress this winter. 

Here are our top tips to help you and your family stay safe during the colder months.

What to do before bad weather arrives

Autumn and early winter is the perfect time to check your property for anything that’s in need of repair or replacement, to give yourself plenty of time to fix the issue before bad weather arrives. Here are some ideas on the things you could do now:

Outside your home 

  • Fix any loose roof tiles on your home, garage or shed
  • Clear debris from gutters, drain pipes, driveways and walkways
  • Check walls, chimneys and aerials for damage
  • Check that fences, posts and gates are secure
  • Repair damaged exterior paintwork
  • Lag outdoor taps and pipes, mending any dripping taps
  • Clear your garden of any loose objects such as garden furniture, bikes and ladders
  • Remove any overhanging or loose tree branches, assuming the trees aren’t protected (contact your local authority if in doubt)

Inside your home 

  • Ensure all windows close securely 
  • If condensation pools on your windows, ensure window sills are clear of personal belongings so they don’t get water damaged
  • Place draught excluders at the base of external doors 
  • Mend dripping taps and lag your pipes to reduce the risk of them freezing and potentially causing a flood
  • Insulate your loft to help keep in the warm air and prevent pipes and water tanks from freezing 
  • Ensure your boiler and water tank are serviced annually
  • Keep important documents safe from floods, by placing them in water-tight bags in a high place (such as a shelf in a bedroom wardrobe)
  • If you’re going away over the winter period, keep your heating on at a low temperature (around 15C) to help prevent pipes from freezing

What to do during a cold snap

When snow and cold weather arrives, there are several key things you can do to protect your home:

  • Keep paths and drives clear, using salt to melt ice and sand to add grip
  • Safely remove snow from any low roofs to prevent them sliding off unexpectedly 
  • Fix any damage, such as loose roof tiles or cracked paving, caused by snow or ice melt
  • Free-up any frozen pipes by turning off your water supply at the stop cock and opening the taps to drain the system
  • Manage any burst pipes by again turning off the water supply, opening taps to drain the system, switching off your heating system and calling your insurer

What to do during stormy weather

If stormy weather is forecast, here are some things you could do to prevent damage to your home and belongings:

  • Park your car away from tall trees, fences and walls
  • Pack a power-cut proof ‘storm kit’ including a fully-charged mobile phone (with important contact details), torch, radio, any essential medication, food, water and blankets
  • Don’t put yourself at any risk – stay safely indoors and don’t try to survey or fix any damage until the storm has passed 
  • When you do inspect your property, take sensible precautions when assessing any damage – don’t stand under a roof with a loose chimney or too close to a cracked wall, and don’t touch any electrical or telephone cables that have blown down or are hanging loose; leave this for the professionals
  • Make a list of anything that’s damaged and take photographs as evidence for your insurance company to assess – especially if you need to tidy up or throw items away

What to do during a flood 

If heavy rain is forecast it can be a worrying time. Flood damage is perhaps the most disruptive kind of damage caused by bad weather because of the long drying-out process. Here are our tips on being prepared for a flood:

  • Move items of sentimental value – such as photos, USB sticks, diaries, jewellery and furniture – upstairs (or to a higher place) in your home
  • Unplug all electrical items and move them upstairs if you can, raising heavy items such as fridges or washing machines up on bricks
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains
  • Help prevent the water getting in by placing sandbags, or other heavy objects, in front of exterior doors
  • Assemble an emergency ‘flood kit’ that you can grab in a hurry, including things such as your insurance documents, important telephone numbers, a mobile phone and charger, emergency cash and credit cards, essential medication, bottled water and non-perishable food blankets, warm clothes and a first aid kit

There are of course lots of other useful things you can do to help protect your home this winter, but we hope the above information has given you some inspiration about how to get ahead before bad weather strikes, and what to do during poor conditions.

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