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Storm weather warnings. How to protect your property

Gale-force winds are the most common cause of damage to property in the United Kingdom. Storms with high winds can have devastating consequences1.

While winds are top of the list when it comes to property damage, flooding is another big problem. Usually when a storm hits the two go hand in hand.

In 2017, storms such as Aileen and Caroline resulted in severe disruption and property damage.

The latest storm to hit Britain is storm Callum. With very high winds and heavy downpours forecast, it is helpful to know how to be prepared and how to deal with the aftermath.

Calm before the storm

Before a weather warning is issued, are you prepared? Knowing your risks and having a plan in place will help you to protect your properties as best you can.

Flood maps are available to show the flood risk for your community:

How to be prepared for a storm

  • Secure moveable objects. Secure or bring in any loose objects, such as ladders, waste bins, equipment or anything else that could be blown away or into windows and glass.
  • Secure windows and doors. Fasten and close all doors, windows and entrances.
  • Move vehicles. If possible, move vehicles to a garage. If not, keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls and fences.
  • Prepare trees and shrubs. Be sure trees and shrubs around your property are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Install a generator. A generator is a great investment for emergencies, helping to keep buildings functioning.
  • Have access to documents. Ensure you have quick access to important documents. Having access to your insurance documents will mean you can deal with claims quickly.
  • Prepare for flooding.
    - Elevate the water heater and electric panel if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
    - Protect valuables and expensive electronics by elevating or removing them.
    - Consider installing ‘check valves’ to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains.
    - If possible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.

How to stay safe during a storm

As well as protecting your properties, make sure that you keep yourself and others safe. The met office provides the following advice2:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • If you do go out, try not to walk or shelter close to buildings and trees.
  • Keep away from the sheltered side of boundary walls and fences - if these structures fail, they will collapse on this side.
  • Do not go outside to repair damage while the storm is in progress.
  • If possible, enter and leave your property through doors in the sheltered side, closing them behind you.
  • Open internal doors only as needed, and close them behind you.

What to do after a storm

Be aware that when the storm is over, many dangers still exist. Here are some things to remember:

  • Use local alerts and warning systems as soon as available. More flooding or flash floods can occur.
  • Find out from emergency services if it is safe to re-enter your property.
  • Stay away from walls, buildings and trees that look like they may have been weakened.
  • Walk carefully around your property and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering. There may be contamination and hidden damage, particularly in the foundations.
  • Inspect your property for damage. Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
  • Call your buildings and contents insurance companies. They will be able to step in and deal with any damage that has occurred.

Storm Ali and Helene and Callum are the first to hit UK and it is likely that more will follow. Make sure you have done everything you can to keep yourself and your properties protected.

1 - Zywave Inc - Are You Prepared? - Heavy Rains and Floods
2 - https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/uk-storm-centre/uk-storm-season-2017-18

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