It's important you know how to protect yourself during a storm. We've put together a list of guidelines to help ensure your family's safety.
We're also here to help with post storm clean-up tips, from small, simple repairs to advice on much bigger jobs.
Before the storm
If you’re expecting extreme gales and the Met Office have advised that you stay indoors, it's worth creating an emergency kit.
Keep your emergency kit somewhere safe and easily accessible, and make sure everyone knows where it is. If you’re travelling or away from home during the storm, it’s something you need to take with you.
If the storm continues for a number of days you need to be prepared. You could lose power and heating. You’ll want to have everything you need with you so as to avoid unnecessary trips out.
Think about packing:
- Essential medication
- Camping stove, kettle for boiling water, and matches. This will come in useful if pilons are damaged and power is cut off.
- List of useful numbers, such as your local council, your insurance company and local emergency services. Depending on the severity of the storm, you may need this immediately after the storm subsides.
- Note of personal information such as your bank details, insurance policies and national insurance numbers
- Essential items for children, such as nappies, baby food, clean clothes and toys
- Food and bedding for your pets. If you’re advised to stay indoors, you need to be sure you have enough to keep your pets comfortable
- A Torch & extra batteries
- Battery-powered radio
- Fully-charged mobile phone Shop our range of battery powered smartphone chargers
- It's also worth investing in emergency breakdown solutions. Strong winds can bring down trees and structures, you never know when you might get stuck.
Make an emergency plan
- If you have a car, where would you move it?
- If you need to leave your home, where would you go and how would you get there? What would you do to secure your home before you leave?
- What would you need to do before you leave?
- Make a list of essential items (aside from your emergency kit) you’d need to take, such as important personal documents
- How would you keep your pets safe? If you have to move, would they be able to stay with you, or would you have to make other arrangements.
During the storm
Keep up to date with the weather. Visit the Met Office website for regular warnings and updates on weather forecasts.
In addition tune into local news channels through the television, radio or internet for regular weather updates.
Follow the guidelines below to ensure you and your family stay safe:
- Stay indoors as much as possible.
- Double check that you have closed and securely fastened all doors and windows,
- 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 during the storm.
- If possible, enter and leave your house through doors on the sheltered side, closing them behind you.
- Open internal doors only as needed.
- Take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges, or high open roads, delay your journey or find alternative routes if possible.
- Slow down and be aware of side winds, particular care should be taken if you are towing or are a high sided vehicle.
- Do not drive unless your journey is really necessary.
Close and secure loft doors with bolts, if possible. Wind storms particularly pummel the roof which can cause loft doors to swing open, damaging ceilings, walls and the door itself.
After the storm
Consider the following:
- Strong winds in any wooded area inevitably knock down tree branches and even larger limbs. If a limb should knock down an electrical line, follow a simple rule: assume the line is LIVE. Be careful not to touch any electrical or telephone cables that have been blown down or are still hanging. This could be incredibly dangerous. It’s best to report issues like this to your local council. If you want to find out who you should be contacting, we can help you find your local authority
- If driving, keep your eyes peeled for anything that may have blown into the road. Be aware that other drivers will be being as cautious as you.
- Do not walk too close to walls, buildings and trees as they could have been weakened. Also avoid parking your vehicle close too close walls or under trees that may have been weakened.
- Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them make arrangements for any repairs.
- Storms can often cause power cuts. Your local authority can give you more information on expected length of outage and what they are doing to restore power.
Deal with any danger first
If your house has suffered damage that may be dangerous due to the storm, such as gas leaks or serious flooding, deal with that first.
Don't forget to turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains if necessary. Have a tradesman fix the problem. Make sure you keep the receipts for any work you have paid for, for insurance purposes.
Getting started & staying safe
Where possible take photographs of any damage to your home. This will provide evidence to support any claims you need to make.
Be wary of anyone who shows up at your door and tells you they that they have noticed a serious problem, defect, or damage that needs to fixed right away.
What you don’t want to do is hire the first roofing contractor that blows in after the storm blows out. If your roof is damaged badly enough to require professional repair work, have that work done by somebody who really knows what to do.
Beware especially of contractors that:
- Don’t have a local address.
- Have only a local P.O. box for an address.
- Offer to fix your roof for far less than going market rates (for those, ask other local contractors or builders).
- Can’t provide references from past jobs in the area.
Roofing crews running scams often try to talk homeowners into hiring them and paying them in a hurry. Many of them show up amazingly quickly after the storm subsides. They may even work quickly - but they’ll often do substandard work that that will need to be replaced in a few years.
During strong winds, your roof takes the full force of the wind.
The first place to check for possible damage is internally, via your loft hatch.
Most of the below can be spotted without even entering into the attic, if you don’t want to risk damaging insulation.
- Places where the roof is sagging
- Rusted nails or stains around nails
- Signs of water damage or leaking
- Dark spots and trails
- Outside light showing through the roof
If you spot any of the above, have your roof checked over by a roofing specialist. One small issue can often be a symptom of a much larger problem.shop step ladders shop torches
When inspecting your roof from the outside, stay off the roof unless you know what you are doing. Either view it from the ground with binoculars or walk around your home's exterior, inspecting for signs of damage. Take notes of any possible problem areas, or areas in need of closer inspection.
If you're confident enough to make a closer inspection, carefully use a ladder to give your roof the once over. You should never try to walk across your roof.
Inspect the exterior of your roof for the following:
- Missing tiles or slates.
- Defective or missing flashing (this is the lead or zinc sheet used to prevent the passage of water where the roof joins any parapet walls or chimney stack).
- A leaning chimney stack or parapet wall
- Sarking boards or sarking felt is secure. If tiles or slates have failed, sarking is the second line of defence. This must be secure and free of holes to provide weatherproof protection.
If you spot any of the above, have your roof checked over by a roofing specialist.Shop roofing supplies
Do not use ladders during adverse weather conditions.
When weather is suitable, the safest ladder to use is a heavy duty triple extension ladder. Place the bottom quarter of it's total height away from the base of the house. Make sure its on firm, flat ground and not tilting left or right, and at least 3 rungs should be overlapping for stability.
Always have someone holding the ladder at the bottom.
Check guttering is safe & secure
Strong winds can loosen guttering
Because of its positioning, the weather will inevitably cause wear and tear in your guttering. Hips, ridges and flashings can become detached in windy weather if pointing is not maintained. This can endanger your house and the surrounding areas.
When the storm has subsided, check guttering from the ground with binoculars or walk around your home’s exterior inspecting for signs of damage.
You can also check the ground for areas that are particularly wet and slippery. This can be a sign that the guttering above is not doing its job.
If you spot an area that needs a closer look and are confident enough to examine further, safely position your ladder on firm, flat ground and carefully climb up to investigate.
You should be checking for the following:
- Sagging gutters - a sign over overflowing gutters, due to blockages
- Blocked gutters - high winds can cause a lot more leaves than usual to fall from trees, blocking your drain a lot quicker than in usual windy weather.
- A leaking joint in a gutter/downpipe
Functioning guttering allows the flow of water to be directed away from your home. If water penetrates your home, woodwork can perish, mould will begin to grow, condensation forms and brickwork can erode. Damp patches quickly spread and health problems can become an issue.
If you find that your guttering is blocked, we can help you sort it before it becomes a bigger problem.watch how to clear out guttering
Remember, if you can't easily or safely reach your gutters, or you are unsure of what you are doing, call in the professionals.Shop guttering Shop ladders
If it looks like new guttering needs to be installed, we can help with our handy guide to installing guttering.
Fierce winds can bring down fencing. Whether you've lost just one section of fence or the whole lot, we can help with our fence fixing guides and extensive range of fence fixing tools.Shop fence fixings & tools Shop all fencing
If the majority of your fence is left standing after the wind, and all you need is a new post or panel, we can help with our video guide to fixing a broken fence.watch how to fix a broken fence
However, if the storm has proved that your fence is on it's last legs, and you're keen to get a new one up before windy weather hits again you're better off with our guides to building and erecting a new fence.
Whether you're doing a small fencing job or a big job, it's wise to be proactive and take steps to weatherproof your newly refurbished, or newly installed, fence. You will have to treat the timber regularly to protect it from insects and weathering.
A coat of preservative will drastically extend the life of a fence. The wood needs to be completely dry before applying.Shop woodcare & preservatives
You should avoid piling earth against a fence as this adds extra pressure to the fence, and where possible install gravel boards at it's base to strengthen it against extreme weather
Often, when a wind storm ravages your area, a lot of trees are left mangled or on the ground. Here's how to successfully clean up and know when to ask for help.
Trees & large plants
Inspect your trees for damage after a storm.
To identify hazardous trees after a rough storm, ask this question: Will the tree damage property or injure people if it falls?
If the answer is yes, look for signs physical damage from wind such as broken, hanging limbs or split branches.
Also check around the root system for loose, mounded soil - evidence the roots may be lifting and the tree could be susceptible to toppling.
If you suspect a hazardous tree, hire a specialist to give it the once over and decide whether to prune or take it down completely.
This is important because you could be held liable if the branch or tree falls and damages property or causes personal injury.
Making the cut
Cleaning up after a storm is more hazardous than conventional tree felling. Storm-damaged trees are often hung up, bent, or under stress.
If the plants are of a size that you can work on them yourself (shrubs and smaller trees), then you can use a sharp set of pruning shears or loppers to remove the broken branches. Make a careful, clean cut back to the next living bud along the broken branch.Shop cutting & pruning tools
Leave tough jobs, such as trees that are bent, leaning, or still have their root balls attached, to an experienced tree surgeon, unless you are familiar with the danger signs.
Garden clean up
If you find your garden filled with branches, leaves and debris, you have some clean up work ahead of yourself.
Tackle the big jobs first, such as fallen limbs or trees that are lying on the ground.
With only the smallest branches of the tree being injured, you can usually be sure that there is little to no permanent injury to the tree. All that is required is cleanup of the broken twigs and branches. Split larger limbs that have fallen so that they are easier to dispose of, or incinerate.
Use a rake or leaf blower to clear away the rest.
Carefully lean up any debris that might have blown around shrubs. If they were damaged, you will need to do some pruning.
Most plants are resilient and will be no worse for wear come summer.
For more help & advice on tidying your garden, visit our Autumn Tidy Up help & advice page.