Riding the storm: Top tips to minimise damage to your home

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Storm Ophelia, which hit large parts of the country this week, isn’t likely to be the last storm we will see this winter.

Although storms can come and go quickly, if they are severe the damage they cause can be disruptive to homes and buildings and can take a long time to repair.

It can also be incredibly costly. The Association of British Insurers estimated that the cost to insurers of flood and storm damage caused in the winter of 2015/6 would top £1.3bn.

But there are some steps you can take to prepare for such events.

Mike McGrail, senior product manager at Swinton Group shares his top tips for minimising storm damage:

1. Securing and storing all fixtures and loose objects around your house and garden in a shed or garage is a good place to start when preparing for a storm. Fence panels, for example, normally aren’t covered by insurance policies and can easily come loose in a storm, so make sure these are firmly attached. Also fold away your garden furniture and close table umbrellas, these can cause damage by colliding with buildings and objects in heavy winds.

2. It might sound simple, but make sure you close and fasten all doors and windows, no matter how small. High winds can cause serious damage to frames and panels when doors and windows swing open or shut, so ensuring they are secure will help limit damage.

3. Because we don’t naturally see them every day, we can easily forget to check whether our gutters are clear. Take a minute to clear any blockages and fallen leaves to ensure that rainwater has somewhere to drain. If you don’t do this, a buildup of water during bad weather could cause flooding and serious leaks which have costly repair bills.

4. Park your car in a garage to reduce the risk of loose flying objects damaging the vehicle, no one wants to walk out of their front door to find their windscreen smashed. If you don’t have a garage, try to park as far away from large trees as you can to reduce the risk.

5. Heavy rain during storms may cause flash flooding or cause rivers to burst their banks. If you think you could be at risk, minimise damage by using sandbags to block potential water entry points like doors on the ground floor and garden gates. You can usually get these from your local authority, but there might be a charge, or you can buy them at various retailers.

6. One job to remember all year-round is regularly checking your roof for cracks and loose shingles or slates. Should the wind get really fierce, cracks could worsen or shingles could blow off, leaving openings where rain can come through.

7. Keep your insurance documents somewhere safe and easily accessible should the worst happen. Maybe create a digital copy or pass one to a friend or neighbour. Taking note of important telephone numbers is highly advised too.

8. Finally, to be extra cautious, always keep stocked up on supplies such as torches, first aid kits and plenty of food and water. If the weather prevents you from going outside for a short while, you don’t want to be left without the essentials.