Avoid disruption this winter

Our top tips to help prepare you for the winter months

As snow falls across the country, weather-related claims become more frequent and more severe.  This, along with shorter daylight hours and the current economic climate can result in an increased likelihood of burglaries and theft.

To protect your home, we recommend the following to help you prepare for the winter months:

Reduce the risk of water damage

  • Insulate all exposed water pipes and tanks in the loft
  • If you have a cold-water tank, inspect it regularly for any signs of a leak and if it is metal, make sure it is not corroding
  • Avoid putting loft insulation directly underneath the water tank so that the warmth from below will help to prevent the cold water from freezing
  • Set your thermostat so that your heating comes on to avoid pipes freezing during severe icy temperatures
  • Check that you know where your main stop valve is located and make sure you can turn it on/off with ease. It is also a good idea to label it so that your household are aware of its location in an emergency. If you have any additional let properties, make sure your tenants are aware of this too
  • If you have any dripping taps, make sure to repair them. Normally all this involves is replacing a washer
  • If you have a constantly dripping overflow pipe this is a sure sign that your system requires some maintenance. Get it checked out as soon as possible
  • If, during freezing conditions, the heating fails or makes loud banging noises, this could indicate that a pipe is freezing. Turn off the boiler and call a plumber immediately or, if you have Home Emergency cover under your policy, call the 24-hour Home Emergency Helpline in your policy wording for assistance
  • Take the time to check the condition of flexible hoses to plumbed-in domestic appliances and make sure they are securely attached
  • Consider the installation of a frost-stat if your boiler does not already have one built in
  • If you do leave your home unoccupied for an extended time, leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate in the loft space

Avoid flood damage

  • Keeping up to date on the weather forecast and tuning in to local TV and radio broadcasts and government updates is key to being prepared for flood events
  • If flood warnings include the area you live in, having a bag of essential items packed is a good way to prepare for an emergency. Essential items should include drinking water, long-life food, any prescription medicine, torches, battery packs and mobile phone charging wires, spare clothes (preferably waterproof) and a first aid kit
  • If a flood is imminent, move cars to higher ground to avoid them becoming debris in rising flood water. It only takes a depth of two feet to lift a car in fast flowing water
  • If you have any spare materials such as wood or plastic, cover airbricks to avoid flood water entering them
  • If flood water enters your home, try to move soft furnishings, electronics, and valuables upstairs to limit the extent of damage and distress
  • If you are forced to leave your home, for safety turn off your mains gas and electricity supply

Find out more about protecting your property during the winter months

Protect against storms

  • Regularly check the condition of all roofs including garages, sheds, and flat roofs for signs of wear and tear
  • Keep gutters, gullies, and drains clear to carry water away quickly and efficiently.
  • Be mindful of low hanging tree branches which could cause damage in high winds and check the trees within your garden and estate for any visible damage following a storm which may require maintenance
  • Clear away any loose items from your garden to ensure there is nothing that could be carried away by high winds during the storm and damage your home
  • If the weather forecast suggests you live in an area which is due to be hit by a severe storm, take similar steps to flood preparation and have an emergency kit prepared

Protect against burglaries and ensure your home is secure

Most household burglaries are committed by opportunists. By taking some simple steps you can decrease the chances of a break-in and make your home safer:

  • If you do not have one already, consider installing an intruder alarm at your home and activate it each time you leave the home unattended. Most burglaries occur between 2.30pm and 4.30pm during the afternoon school run as burglars know that parents rush to leave the home and may not set the alarm
  • Consider installing CCTV, smart cameras, or smart doorbells to ward off potential intruders who wish to avoid being caught on camera
  • It is a clear statement to possible intruders that you take home security seriously by maintaining alarm boxes and keeping fencing, border walls and gates in good condition
  • Low visibility and noise are key considerations to intruders, so having gravel driveways and motion triggered security lighting are good deterrents
  • As nice as it is to spread Christmas joy and have your tree front and centre, consider how visible it is to passer’s by, especially when presents are sitting beneath it
  • When it comes to disposing of packaging for expensive goods and Christmas presents, try not to leave a stack of folded boxes out for the bin men as these can also be seen by prospective intruders who may consider this as an advertisement for what they could potentially steal
  • If you are going away for a winter break, try not to make this obvious to potential intruders. Putting lights on timers or using a TV simulator light is a cost-effective way of simulating that someone is home
  • If you are planning to go away for a winter break, leaving a key with a trusted neighbour, friend, or family member to check the house weekly for any issues is a great way of reducing the chances of you coming home to any unwelcome surprises
  • If you are travelling over the Christmas period, it is wise not to advertise this on social media before and during your trip

For more information, please contact our Broking and Development Director, Zoe Watkins.