As winter nears, UK homeowners encouraged to check their properties for 'preventable risks'
As the winter weather steps up a few notches, Gemma Dunn reveals some simple steps for protecting a property
The cold is coming, and homeowners in the UK are being encouraged to protect their properties and prepare for what looks set to be a grim winter - especially if this month's recent storms are anything to go by.
Insurance firms are already advising customers on how to shield their properties from the disruptive weather - not least by checking the type of policy and provider they currently have in place.
Once you have the correct home insurance, with adequate building and contents cover, follow this easy guide to caring for your estate pre-storm.
It's worth checking your property and its immediate surroundings for obvious, preventable risks. If any home and garden improvements need tending to, now is the time to do them.
This could include falling roof tiles, broken fences and crumbling brickwork - things which may appear harmless at first glance, but could end up costing more post-storm, and pose harm to your home and family.
KEEP IT SEALED
During high winds, speed can fluctuate and place huge pressure on every element of the building.
To avoid this, or at the very least minimise the hazards it can cause, homeowners should look to keep their property well-sealed externally. Inspect all exterior corners and outdoor water taps, and seal any gaps in outer walls or foundations with foam or caulk, to prevent cold air and water entering the home.
UP ON THE ROOF
The roof is one of the most exposed parts of a home, so it goes without saying it needs to be secured properly during stormy conditions.
Steer clear of walking across the roof yourself (especially in adverse weather), and instead, inspect it from the ground or inside of the loft. If you spot mould, outside light coming through, rusted nails, sagging material, loose sheathing or signs of leaking, call in a specialist to get it checked properly and sorted out. Damaged guttering must be considered too.
A REAL PANE
When gale-force winds are howling outside and the windows are rattling, it's easy to worry they'll combust at any given moment.
Realistically, if you draughtproof your windows (left)and doors with a sealant, secure entry doors with a hinge and locks, and consider installing solid or hollow metal doors, it's unlikely you'll experience extensive damage - if any. If extreme conditions ensue and flying debris becomes an issue, protect the windows and any French doors with some plywood.
It's a strange sight when you spot a large trampoline suddenly lift off the ground and fly through the air and over your neighbour's fence - not to mention the damage such things can cause when they become airborne.
So avoid the inevitable by ensuring all garden furniture, barbecues, toys and anything else that could potentially be launched into the air is either firmly secured or stored away in a shed or similar. Trim back any suspect trees and park your car out of their path or, if possible, in a garage. Finally, secure garage doors and be sure yours is strong enough to withstand high winds.