Winter often sees the United Kingdom take a real battering from the elements. Countless homes and businesses suffer an unprecedented onslaught, and the cost can be immense – not just in financial terms, but in the heartache and loss for those affected. It’s time to ask yourself… how ready are you for a spell of severe weather?
Last-minute preparations are no good when a storm is rolling in and the heavens have opened. It pays to think ahead, and to make longer-term plans for the safety and security of your home. This isn’t as daunting as it might seem – some simple steps can mean the difference between “thank goodness” and “if only”.
Past floods have had a devastating effect, leaving many lives (and livelihoods) in tatters. While the authorities work to learn lessons so as to prevent future disasters on this scale, it’s down to you to make changes on a more immediate level. The first step is, of course, to think about stopping water getting in if a flood does strike. Fitting flood boards over your doors is usually an effective measure, and raising damp-proof brick courses is also advisable. Water can also be kept out through the use of covers on ventilation bricks, and non-return valves and water inlet/outlet pipes.
Remember, though, flood preparation isn’t solely about stopping water getting into your property in the first place. It’s about minimising the effect it has if you can’t stop it getting in – some simple measures can help flood water drain away more quickly, so you can get back to normal more quickly afterwards. A good first step is to make sure your gutters are clear and in good condition.
In some cases, it’s safer for your property if flood water does actually get in, so prepare your home accordingly. Keep precious items on high shelves, and make sure any audio-visual equipment such as your TV is not near ground level.
Water and electricity don’t mix, and a flood could destroy your home’s power supply. Electrical sockets, fuse boxes and wiring should be 1.5 metres away from the floor; if you’re rewiring, bring cables down the wall to the sockets so as to keep them higher up wherever possible.
Elsewhere in your home, use water-resistant skirting boards to reduce the damage caused by flood water. Raise appliances (such as kitchen white goods) on plinths and you’ll avoid incurring further costs.
Of course, flooding isn’t the only extreme weather you should be wary of. High winds can cause more damage than you might expect, and what starts as a windy spell can quickly turn into a hazardous environment.
Loose roof tiles might just seem like a nuisance, but can cause massive damage. They’ll leave your roof more vulnerable to rainwater and debris, but that’s just the beginning – falling tiles could damage your car or injure a passer-by, leaving you with more inconvenience and expense.
Outbuildings are also at risk in extreme weather; that loose felt roof on the shed might have been a minor hassle in the past, but if it’s suddenly torn away, your garden equipment could suddenly be exposed to the elements. Be sure to check all areas of your property.
There’s no shortcut to extreme weather preparation – if you’re not ready by the time an alert is given, you won’t have time to get ready. So take a little time to think about what your home needs, and while you can’t plan for every eventuality, you’ll certainly be in a much better position if the weather turns bad again.
If you’re in any doubt about the readiness of your home for extreme weather, call in a professional. The cost of a consultation could pale into insignificance when you compare it to the price you might pay for not being prepared.
Finally, be sure to check that your home insurance policy covers you for severe weather damage. The phone call won’t take long, and your mind could be put at rest in a few moments – but if you haven’t got the right cover, it’s better to find out now, while you have a chance to do something about it!
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