A close up of a cup off coffee being held by someone wearing thick grey wool gloves

Protecting Your Home this Winter

Every year numerous accidents and millions of pounds worth of damage are caused by the colder weather. By planning ahead and taking some basic precautions, the effects of the damage can be minimised or averted altogether.

How to be prepared

Have a ‘charged’ torch to hand in case of a power cut or emergency during the night.

Keep a note of reputable contractors or insurance claims line numbers to call in a convenient spot.

Ingress of water, storm damage, flood, and damp

Particular attention should be paid to the maintenance of flat roofs and repairing of loose tiles.

Keep guttering and downpipe hoppers clear of leaves to avoid a back up under the tiles causing ingress of water.

Trees should be inspected annually and remedial action taken where necessary. All work should be carried out in compliance with BS3998.

Attention should be paid to the maintenance of boundary walls and fencing.

In the event of high winds, secure or store items such as garden furniture and dustbins.

Be aware of severe weather warnings http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings

Observe the amount of snow fall on roofs such as conservatories and if safe to do so, clear before the amount can reach unsafe levels.

Clear pathways of snow before it becomes compounded, use grit salt or sand to stop it freezing over.

If you are in a flood area, sign up for emergency flood alerts https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk

Consider investing in flood defences such as sandbags or flood barrier.

Keep damp course line clear of soil and plants.

Remove climbing plants that cause damage to the brickwork and pointing; such as ivy.

Avoid condensation by allowing air to circulate, invest in installing air blocks or using small portable dehumidifiers.

Burst Pipes

Know where the main (in the street) and subsidiary (within your home) water stopcocks are and check that they are in working order.

Have your boiler and central heating annually serviced?

Lag your pipes and water tanks to BS6700, include any outdoor drainage and condensation pipes to protect the boiler.

Repair dripping taps & faulty ball valves to avoid frozen pipes.

For unoccupied properties or during extreme cold conditions, leave your thermostat on low.

If you have one, leave the loft hatch open to allow heat to rise and avoid frozen pipes in the loft space.

Fire or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Install a smoke alarm and invest in a small fire extinguisher and fire blanket.

If you have an open fire, have your chimney cleaned annually and use a fire guard.

Do not dry clothes indoors near bar fires or naked flames.

Use surge protectors on electronic equipment.

Bonfires and fireworks should be a safe distance away from buildings and fences.

Install a carbon monoxide alarm.

Security

Ensure you always lock your windows and doors when you are away from the property or asleep at night.

Don’t leave keys or handbags near the front door; burglars poke long poles with hooks through letter boxes.

Purchase a timer to turn your lights on and off to give the impression someone is at home.

Don’t advertise that you are away on social media.

With Christmas around the corner don’t leave presents under the tree on view from windows.

Consider investing in an alarm.

Keep side/rear gates locked.

Don’t leave items lying around outside that can be used to break in such as ladders.

Car

Ensure your vehicle has an annual service and MOT.

Check your tyres for wear and ensure your lights are working.

Check your fuel, oil and water levels adding antifreeze/coolant.

Don’t be caught out by the weather; the following items should be carried in your boot; dry food & bottled water, thermal blanket, snow shovel, hi viz jacket, torch, first aid kit, warning triangle.

Although added weight in the boot uses more fuel, it aids grip and helps avoid skidding whilst driving in ice and snow.

Adhere to the advice given by the emergency services and do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Whether by car, public transport or on foot, if travelling in inclement weather, wrap up, take extra care, carry a fully charged mobile and always tell someone where you are going.

Water leak

Turn off the subsidiary stopcock and turn on all taps in the house including flushing the toilet to drain the system as quickly as possible and call a plumber.

Never use a naked flame to thaw frozen pipes

Gas leak

Open all windows and doors

Turn off all cooking appliances. Extinguish all cigarettes/cigars/pipes. Call your gas company’s emergency number

Never light a naked flame or turn on any electrical switches