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Protecting homes from storm and lightning damage

At a glance

  • Heavy storms are on the increase across the UK
  • Lightning strikes, flash floods and strong winds can give rise to chaos at home
  • We explore precautions home owners can take to protect their property

Storm and flooding events are increasing in both frequency and severity and this trend is likely to continue. There are many suggested reasons for this increase, including changes in weather patterns, the increased urbanisation of previously Greenfield sites and outdated and inadequate drainage infrastructure. Here are some precautionary measures that your clients can take to help prevent storm or lightning damage at home.

Assessing the risk of storm damage

You can carry out an initial inspection of your home to ascertain the risks that might be caused by a storm, however you may need specialist advice for some areas or to inspect out of reach parts of your property.

Start by regularly checking the roof of your home for any loose or missing tiles, paying particular attention to any area of flat roof, as this type of construction can have a limited life span. Also inspect gutters and down-pipes seasonally and address any defect or blockage straight away.

Remember to include an inspection of your outbuildings and maintain them to a good standard to help prevent damage or possible liability issues arising following a storm.

If you have a number of trees on your land, it may be prudent to ask a professional tree surgeon to check those that are in close proximity to your home or outbuildings for loose branches or disease, as these can lead to problems in high winds.

Prevention

If you are concerned about the roof at your property, ask a competent roofing contractor to replace any loose or missing tiles or to carry out a roof inspection to give you peace of mind.

There are also companies available that can clean and repair gutters and drains if you are unable to carry out the work yourself.

If there is a possibility that a falling tile could damage a flat felt roof or a glazed conservatory below, consider fitting snow guards. In heavy snow conditions, you should also clear snow from vulnerable roof areas as the weight of a heavy build up can cause serious damage to guttering or roofs on conservatories and the like.

In strong wind conditions, secure all windows and doors and close shutters if applicable.

Once done, it is prudent to stay clear of any glazed areas whenever there are dangerous storm predictions. If safe to do so, move any items of garden furniture to a safe storage area and ensure all outbuildings are secured. Anchor larger structures such as greenhouses and children’s climbing frames to prevent movement. Inside your home, consider removing pictures, paintings and valuables from the walls or display cabinets and storing them within a secure area, or beneath a table.

If it is not possible to remove large items of contents or antique furniture, these items should be covered with a blanket, or wrapped in protective sheeting.

Assessing the risk of lightning damage

Lightning is nothing more than a long spark. However, it is estimated that there are about 1,800 storms exist at any one time in the world with around 100 lighting strikes per second.

Lightning is often overlooked when storm damage is mentioned, mainly because the United Kingdom currently does not have a high incidence of lightning strikes. There are, however, areas of the country that are deemed to be at a higher risk due to their exposed location. If you suspect that your home may be at risk from lightning strikes, a risk assessment can be carried out by a specialist company. They will advise on the type of lightning protection necessary for your property, and can install a suitable system for you.

In addition to the obvious structural damage that lightning can cause, as well as subsequent fire damage, there is also a risk of damage to the internal electrical appliances, electrical systems and security systems in your home.

To reduce the risk of this kind of damage, surge protection can be installed and a specialist company should be consulted to carry out an assessment.

Lightning protection maintenance

If you currently have lightning protection installed, its maintenance is important and it should be checked on an annual basis. Faulty lightning protection can result in either damage to the property or injury to you and your family.

Obvious faults to lightning protection systems are insecure tapes extending from the upper to the lower areas of the property, corroded terminals or poor bonding to earthing points.

For more information on Zurich Private Clients or our valuations service, speak to your local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

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