Britain seems to be getting stormier each year. The winter of 2014 was recorded as the stormiest in at least 20 years with strong winds and heavy rainfall battering homes throughout the UK. It’s astonishing to think that some 600,000 homes were left without power, while 12,000 properties suffered structural damage and 7,000 were flooded.
With a few precautions in place, you can minimise the possibilities of storm damage. Here are some useful home safety tips to help you protect your home and get it back up and running again should the unexpected happen.
Before the storm
- Have an emergency kit handy and ready to use. Ideally, it should last around three days if you are cut off from local services. Your kit could contain essentials such as: non-perishable easy to prepare foods, bottled water, first aid kit, torch, candles and matches or lighter, extra car keys, cash, a fully charged mobile phone and a whistle.
- The Forestry Commission estimates that around 30 million trees across the UK blew down in the 2014 storms. Check any trees on and around your property, making sure the branches are sufficiently pruned to avoid them falling and damaging your property, your tenants or even the power lines around it.
It goes without saying that before the storm is when investing in home insurance will create a bit more peace of mind.
Inspecting your home
Property maintenance goes a long way to help minimise storm damage.
- Check for any loose roof tiles or slates on your rooftops and get them repaired or refitted as these are likely to blow off in a storm and could cause extra damage to your home.
- Guttering and drains need to be kept clear of leaves and debris to avoid rain water flooding into your home from terraces and balconies.
- Unsecured shutters and garden furniture are likely to fly in high winds, so ensure everything is safely stored away in a garage or outbuilding just in case a storm hits while your property is unoccupied.
Staying safe after a storm
- Fallen electricity power lines may be live so keep safe by standing at least 10 metres away from them. Electricity can travel through water and the ground around the power line.
- If a power line lands on your car while you are in it, stay inside as live power lines are dangerous. Call the emergency services and wait for them to help.
- Be aware of electric sockets and power outlets within the home which, if wet, will conduct electrical currents. Don’t use any electrical appliances and disconnect your mains power if possible. Alternatively, call the electricity company to come and do so for you.
- Call the emergency services and your electricity suppliers to report the damage.
- Portable generators can provide power if your electricity supply is cut due to a storm. This helpful video provides some useful safety tips on using a generator.
- Check nearby trees for any branches that may be about to fall after the storm. If so, get a tree surgeon to remove them as these could prove to be dangerous.