With storms being a frequent occurrence in the UK, it’s worth doing a check that your home is ready for them.
Perhaps unsurprising, gales are the most common cause of damage and disruption in the UK, according to the Met Office, and the average cost of damage each year is upwards of £300 million.
Consider taking these steps to help prevent your home from being damaged by strong winds.
Fences are often damaged during high winds, especially if they’re old and weak or have shallow foundations.
So, if you need to, try to get your old fences fixed, and potentially reinforced, before the winds pick up, as these are one of the mostly likely areas to be affected.
This is particularly important, as most home insurance policies don’t cover damage to fences.
Check and repair your roof
It’s a good idea to check your roof on a regular basis. If necessary, you might need a professional roofer to come to your home and do it for you.
When roofs are left unchecked for a long period of time, then any loose tiles, slates and flashing can cause problems which could become costly.
If you have a flat roof, then it is likely to require more maintenance and more repairs than a traditional pitched roof. You should inspect a flat roof twice a year – as well as after storms – and clear leaves, debris and dirt that may prevent proper drainage or cause deterioration.
Fallen trees and branches are one of the greatest hazards when the wind is really wild.
So, try to keep any trees regularly pruned - you may need the help of a tree surgeon - and consider removing dead, loose or overhanging branches that can be dangerous or cause damage.
Bear in mind that if a tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) then you'll need permission from your local planning authority to carry out any management work or remove the tree.
Secure loose objects
Sometimes it’s easy to forget what could be lying about in your garden, or outdoor area - if you have one. Check you haven’t left any loose objects, such as ladders, bins or garden furniture - if the wind’s really strong, they could be blown into windows, doors or other parts of the buildings, causing damage.
So be sure to put them all away, or secure them, when strong winds are forecast.
Trampolines deserve a special mention. You may have seen the images on social media of trampolines that have blown out of people’s gardens and ended up in surprising places – one famously on a railway track during the 2020 Storm Ciara.
If you have a trampoline, you should take action to prevent it from flying away in strong winds. Safety organisation Rospa has the following advice:
- Store your trampoline safely when not in use, particularly during the winter months when the winds can be stronger.
- Tie down large trampolines. You can buy trampoline tether kits if needed.
- It’s also a good idea to remove the safety netting from trampoline frames, as these can act like sails during windy weather.
Fasten doors and windows
Be sure to close and lock your windows and doors, including your garage door if you have one. This is particularly true for windows and doors on parts of the house that are most exposed to the wind.
Also, the Met Office advises that ahead of strong winds, homeowners should close and secure loft trapdoors with bolts, particularly if your roof pitch is less than 30°.  This prevents any howling, and will also prevent it coming open unexpectedly, which could cause an accident.
Park your car in your garage, if you can
If you have a garage that hasn’t been converted, or hasn’t become a general dumping ground for all those things you’re not sure what to do with, then make use of it during strong winds to keep your car safe from flying debris and falling items.
If you don’t have a garage, then try and park your car away from buildings, trees, walls and fences - anything that could tumble down on top of it and cause even more damage.
Check whether your home is at risk of floods
Storms and high winds often bring with them all sorts of other risks. One is flooding. So, check if your home is at risk of flooding. (link to flood website)
If there is a risk of flooding and you have time to prepare, then there are some steps you can take minimise flood damage.
Also, storms can result in power cuts, so put together a storm kit which includes torches, necessary medication, food, water and blankets.
Check your buildings insurance
Even with careful preparation, you can’t always protect your home from nature’s fury.
So it’s a good idea to double check that your buildings insurance is up to date and covers everything you need it to.