HOUSEHOLDS are being urged to prepare for Arctic blasts as Storm Arwen hits the UK.
As well as bringing colder temperatures, storms can also cause damage to your home such as floods – here is how to prepare.
The Met Office has issued a rare red alert for Scotland and the north of England and amber warnings across the rest of the UK as Storm Arwen approaches this afternoon,
It is expected to bring with it winds of up to 65mph over the weekend, potentially causing power cuts and travel delays.
The cold snap comes a year after major flooding and damage was caused by Storm Aiden in October 2020 and Storm Bella two months later.
Storms and freezing cold weather can cause all sorts of damage such as floods, power cuts and frozen or burst pipes.
That could mean a lot of costly claims on your home insurance, or an even larger bill if you aren’t covered.
Halifax Home Insurance said its flood and storm insurance claims increased by more than 100% after these storms last year.
Here is how you can get your home prepared for harsh winter weather.
Prepare a home emergency kit
A power cut could mean you lose electricity and heating.
That is pretty inconvenient during the cold winter months.
Have essential items at the ready including torches, tinned food, medication, blankets and warm clothing.
Set your thermostat to a minimum temperature
Energy costs are pretty high at the moment so you may be trying to save money by lowering the thermostat temperature.
But it is also important to keep your home heated at a decent level to heat up the pipes and help prevent them from freezing if the weather drops.
Tim Downes, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance, suggests keeping your thermostat at around 12°C, even overnight.
He said: “The heating costs are justified if it avoids a costly pipe freeze.
“Many thermostats have a winter option that routinely heats the system to keep pipes at the right temperature.”
Secure external fittings
High winds can send garden items such as tables, chairs or hanging plants flying.
This can cause accidents and even damage to yours or other property.
Rather than searching the neighbour’s garden for your outdoor furniture, make sure items are secured or bring them inside.
Insuulation can save you money on your energy bills and reduce your usage by keeping more heat in your home and limiting how much can escape.
It is also a good way of protecting your property such as your exposed popes from cold air.
This will reduce the chance of frozen pipes and flooding.
Check for exposed pipes in basements, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets and on the outside of the property and use UL-listed heat tape or foam rubber insulation to protect them.
Charge your mobile phone
A power cut could put your landline out of use and your mobile phone could be crucial so you can keep in touch with loved ones.
Make sure it is charged before the bad weather arrives so you can be prepared and remain able to stay in touch.
Check your roof now
You do still have a responsibility to keep your home maintained and insurers can reject claims based on “wear and tear”.
So if there is no obvious storm damage and you have a leak but your roof is in poor condition, an insurer could instead argue that you are responsible and may reject your claim.
This could leave you with a hefty repair bill.
Take photographs of damaged items and your roof both before and after as it may help your insurer to settle a claim faster.
Find your stop tap
One of the first things you need to do if you have a big leak or flood is to turn the water off.
There can be a big panic if your home is flooding so make sure you know where you stop tap is and how to use it in advance.
A stop tap is usually under your kitchen sink, according to Thames Water.
Martin Lewis has also warned to check where your stopcock is so you can turn the mains water off in an emergency.
It’s also advisable to keep the name and number of a qualified plumber handy so you can call them quickly if you need to.
Clear your drains and gutters
Leaves can easily clog up your drains and gutters.
Extra rainfall, ice and snow could make these blockages more dangerous and costly.
Thames Water warns that blocked gutters and drains can cause leaks and damage to your walls and roof.
Keep up-to-date with weather alerts
There are plenty of websites that will try to predict the weather but there is no guarantee that anyone is correct.
The Met Office is the main body that provides weather warnings though.
So it is worth keeping an eye on its website, signing up for email alerts or following it on Twitter to stay informed.
Check your insurance cover
Most insurers will cover you for storm or flood damage to your property but check your policy for any exclusions.
You may not be covered if you were operating a business from home and had work documents or equipment damaged.
Additionally, damage to outside gates or fences may be excluded from cover.
Keep your insurance documents handy and save any emergency or claims numbers on your phone so you can access them quickly.
Don’t forget to check what the weather alerts mean for your car insurance.
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