How to protect your home ahead of extreme weather


Here are a few simple steps to keep your home safe.

How to protect your home ahead of extreme weather

It looks as though we're in for below-freezing temperatures and quite possibly some snowfalls, too. These hazardous conditions can cause all sorts of problems for you and your home. We're here to help you prepare for the cold snap if freezing weather does its worst.

Prepare your pipes

  • Cover all visible pipes with specialist insulation, called lagging, which you can usually buy from your local DIY store. Particularly focus on exposed pipes in small spaces such as the attic.
  • You can use gaffer tape to securely fix the insulation around bends and tricky-to-reach pipes.
     

Let warm air flow

  • Keep your home warm throughout the day by setting your heating to come on for an hour or two when you're out. 
  • If your pipes and tanks are in unheated loft spaces or forgotten cupboards, open the hatch or door occasionally to allow warm air to circulate around them. 

Repair dripping tap

  • Leaky taps can block your pipe and cause damage if they freeze. Test each of your taps by turning them fully off.
  • If any continue to drip, get them fixed.
  • Heading off for some Winter sun? Turn your water off and drain the system to potentially prevent any damage while you're away.

 

As extreme weather events become more common in the UK, more properties are at risk of flooding. These conditions can cause all sorts of problems for you and your home, which could be costly. Even if you don’t live near an obvious source of potential flooding, like a river, you could still be at risk.

Should your home suffer from flooding, and you need to make a claim on your home insurance policy, you can rest assured that Aviva are on hand to help 24/7 to help get things sorted quickly, with minimum fuss. Here are 4 simple things you can do if you think your home is at risk of flood damage
 

Turn it off

  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains and unplug electrical items or move them upstairs if you can.
     

Keep important documents safe

  • Place important documents in watertight plastic bags in a high, safe place.
  • Think about keeping extra copies of documents with family or friends.
  • You could also take a photo of them on your phone in case you lose the originals.
     

Move furniture up

  • Lift heavy items like fridges off the floor, for example by putting them on bricks.
  • Move furniture to a higher level or upstairs.

Make a flood kit

  • Basic items to prepare include things like copies of important documents, a first-aid kit, a torch and some blankets to keep warm.

 

What to do before the storm if it’s safe

  • Check your roof: Look for loose or missing tiles, crumbling pointing or any other signs of damage. Also, make sure any television aerials and satellite dishes are secure.
  • Fasten your fence: Make sure fence panels are secure garden gates in good working order to avoid panels flying away.
  • Remove hazardous branches: Cut down loose or overhanging branches in your garden, particularly those close to windows or power lines. But be careful: some trees are protected and can’t be removed. Check with your local planning authority before you make any big changes.
  • Keep gutters clear of moss and leaves: Make sure they’re securely fixed and emptied of any loose leaves.
     

When a storm is approaching

  • Secure garden furniture: Put away ladders, garden furniture, children’s toys or anything else that strong winds could send flying around.
  • Park vehicles in a garage: If you don’t have one, try to park away from trees, walls or fences that could fall in the face of strong winds.
  • Close and fasten doors and windows: Don’t forget to secure less frequently used entrances, like loft trapdoors.
  • Keep pets indoors: Make sure pets are protected and bring outdoor pets in if you can.
  • Prepare a storm emergency kit: Be prepared just in case you need to leave your home during the storm. Pack warm clothes, medicines, a torch, and batteries.
  • It is also a good idea to make sure your home insurance documents are to hand just in case you need to contact your insurer.  Take a look at the information about making a claim with us
     

During the storm

  • Once the storm hits, stay indoors if you can. Only drive if your journey is absolutely necessary.
  • If you hear something outside break, don’t try to repair it while the storm’s still happening. Property can be repaired, it’s more important to stay safe.
     

After the storm

  • If your home or belongings have been damaged, contact your insurer as soon as possible and let them know what’s happened. Check how to make a claim with us
  • List any damage to your property and don’t throw anything away in case it’s needed for the claims process. Take photographs or video the damage to your items.
  • While you wait for the professionals to take care of any significant repairs, there are several things you can do to start the cleanup:
    • Use a plastic sheet to temporarily patch up the damaged parts of your home that you can get to safely and easily.
    • You may try getting a quote from a local tradesperson for repairs, for your insurer to look at. This can sometimes be the quickest option during major weather events when lots of people are making claims.
  • Check in on vulnerable neighbours or relatives and help them make any arrangements for repairs.
  • Remember to keep clear of electrical or telephone cables that have been blown loose during the storm. 

We've got a list of handy tips to help you keep your home cool and prevent any damages during any heatwaves.

Heatwaves will get longer and happen more over the summer months. The reality is most homes aren’t prepared for them. Most of the houses in the UK have been designed to keep heat indoors, so we can be nice and cosy in the winter, however keeping them cool during the hotter months can be more problematic. 

For example, buildings built from concrete absorb more of the sun’s heat, making it likely to overheat. This causes cracks, worsens the surface and fades white paint faster too.

What to do to prevent this damage

  • Most home insurance policies don’t cover natural wear and tear, so it’s important that you look after your home:
  • Make sure your home is well maintained – longer periods of heat will take its toll on building materials, meaning it’ll need more maintenance.
  • Create shade – make the most of morning air circulation, but close curtains to keep the house as cool as possible. This is a technique used by people in hotter countries around the world.
  • Open windows to make the most of any circulating air but be mindful of thieves.
  • Ventilation – high humidity with a lack of air moving around the home can lead to mould growth, so make sure to air out your home.

If a winter storm arrived and your roof was already cracked, you may not be able to claim if this made an existing problem worse.
 

How to prevent a garden fire

  • Don’t leave fires unattended:  It only takes a few seconds for a fire to get out of control.
  • Be careful with firelighters: These powerful tools can get out of hand if not observed.
  • Be responsible when you've finished with barbecues, cinders, and matches. Garden fires are mostly caused by cinders that are left in the bin or a bonfire while still hot. Make sure that the coal you used isn’t glowing before you get rid of them and be careful where you discard matches or cigarettes.
  • Be mindful: If the weather is dry, then grass and plants will catch fire more easily.  

  
After the heat has passed

  • If your home or belongings have been damaged by the extreme heat, you should get in touch with your insurer and let them know what’s happened. If you hold a Santander Home Insurance policy you can check how to make a claim with us.
  • Write a list of all the damages made to your property and don’t throw anything away in case it’s needed for your claim. Take photographs or videos of the damage made to your items.
  • You may try getting a quote from a local tradesperson for repairs and your insurer to look at. This can be the quickest way to make a claim when there’s a major weather event and lots of people are trying to make a claim.
  • And finally, you should check in with your vulnerable neighbours and family during and after any major heat event. Keep an eye on your pets and keep them inside.

 

This was adapted from an article first published on the Aviva.co.uk website
https://www.aviva.co.uk/aviva-edit/your-things-articles/extreme-heat-and-your-home/
 

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