The colder months bring a higher risk of strong winds and extended wet periods. But you can help keep damage to a minimum by taking some simple steps in advance.
Taking preventative measures to help your home withstand high winds, heavy rain and generally stormy weather is much easier than trying to fix damage afterwards. Autumn or early winter are the ideal times to check your property is ready for anything winter has to throw at it. Read on for our guide on how to prevent storm damage and prepare for high winds.
The gov.uk website has a handy service you can use to check if your home is in a high flood risk area.
AT A GLANCE
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent storm damage and prepare for floods, before bad weather hits, including:
1. Checking your roof for damage and make sure your gutters are clear
2. Securing or moving any objects that could be picked up by strong winds
3. Checking whether your home is in a flood risk area
Start at the top
The first place to start is the roof. You can call in a professional to check for any missing or loose tiles, plus any other natural wear and tear. Pay particular attention to any areas with a flat roof as well as the garage and garden shed. Wear and tear to these roofs may mean that they have become weakened and unable to support added weight from snow, ice or broken branches.
Secondly, make sure your gutters, gullies and drains are clear of leaves and other debris; this will allow heavy rainfall and melted ice to pass through quickly and effectively.
If drainpipes and gutters aren’t cleaned, water can become trapped in the pipes and freeze during cold weather, causing them to crack and burst.
Prepare for strong winds
Before the first of the winter storms arrive, have a look around your property for any overhanging tree branches and loose materials that could damage your home in strong winds. Tree branches can be cut back and stored away, and loose garden furniture can be secured or stored inside.
If you have been warned or believe that a serious storm is on its way here are some things you can do to prepare:
- Ensure any debris is removed from outside and that any loose items – from furniture to bins or bikes – are secured or stored inside.
- 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 time, to ensure everyone is safe.
- Storms can result in power cuts, so make a storm kit which includes torches, batteries, necessary medication, food, water, and blankets.
Check if your home is in a flood risk area
With storms can come the risk of flooding. You can check whether your home is a potential flood risk using the flood maps on the Gov.uk website. You can also find out your property’s flooding history by contacting the Environment Agency.
If there is a risk of flooding and you have time to prepare, then here is some more information on how to prepare for floods < Flooding: Is your home at risk? - Rias > which you may find useful.
Once the dust has settled
Depending on the severity of the winds, the post-storm clean-up can vary from small repairs to significant clean-up operations.
Here are some tips to keep you safe during the clean-up:
- 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. Report them immediately but leave them for a professional to fix.
- Contact your insurance company immediately if you think you need to make a claim: take pictures and make a note of any damage.
As a final piece of preparation, make sure that you have the contact details for anyone you might need to contact in an emergency, such as electricians, plumbers, roofers, and your insurer’s claim helpline.
If your home has been damaged by a storm, you can find more details on what to do on our Weather Hub
Repairing common home damage after a storm – Rias>
Original article written 15th August 2021, updated 18th October 2023