Storm Lorenzo has passed by but it there is a long winter ahead and experts say last week’s weather alerts should serve as a reminder of the need to get your home ready for the worst nature could throw at us.
Previously, the worst of the weather occurred closer to Christmas or in the dark days of the New Year but, judging by last week and Ophelia in 2017, we may need to start preparing earlier.
“Coming on the back of our Indian Summer in September, bad weather and its impact on homes is simply not on people’s radar just yet,” Jonathan Hehir, Managing Director of Insuremyhouse.ie said. “We are used to the weather worsening towards the end of October/start of November.”
An earlier start brings fresh challenges as, in addition to the normal hazards of wind and rain, fallen leaves can exacerbate already difficult conditions. Householders should clear gutters and drains of leaves and debris and consider trimming back bushes and shrubs. If left to fall of their own accord, they can cause flooding and water damage as a result of blocked drains and gutters.
While you or a professional are cleaning your gutters, cast an eye over your roof. Repairs to tiles or any problem areas now could avert far more serious and costly repairs later.
It is time to put away any summer furniture as well as trampolines and any other play items. These are all potential hazards in rough weather, and will only become tarnished and damaged in winter.
Another job for this time of year is to test any safety devices in your home. Now is the time when we start turning on the heating and lighting the fireplace, so it is also a good time to replace the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices. Ensure they work properly.
Mr Hehir believes many householders in Ireland should also considerextra preventative measures.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that every year homes in Ireland are destroyed by flooding, high winds, burst pipes etc. and it does cause a lot of devastation for the homeowners affected,” he said. “In advance of any adverse weather conditions hitting Ireland we are calling on people to prepare and protect their properties so as to limit any damage.”
[item]Check your external walls and windows to ensure they are adequately water resistant. There are various different products, sealants and varnishes available to waterproof any areas of concern.[item]In the event of a flood warning in your area, it might be worth investing in sandbags and/or flood barriers to protect your property, particularly if you live in a flood risk area.[/item]
[item]During more risky periods keep personal and expensive items as high above ground level as possible, and ensure you know where water, gas and electricity mains are, should you need to turn them off or on at any stage.[/item]
This is an expensive time for many families and there may be a temptation to let items like house insurance slide for a while but this is a high-risk strategy.
“Just this week we have received a higher number of calls than usual from homeowners who have let their cover lapse — most only for a matter of weeks — and who now want to ensure they are covered in the event of storm damage,” Mr Hehir said ahead of Storm Lorenzo.
“This is a risky approach for anyone to take— the Irish weather has never been more changeable and lots of people could well be caught out if they don’t renew on or before their renewal date.”
If you are dreading the home insurance premium, work to reduce it rather than going without. As always, it is worth shopping around.
You should be insuring for the rebuild cost of your property, as opposed to the market value. If you are unsure of what that is, the Society of Chartered surveyors has a handy online calculator at www.scsi.ie.
Be careful when valuing contents, as overvaluing is a waste and under-valuing could reduce a claim. Take the time to tot it as accurately as you can, the calculator at www.rsagroup.ie might help.
The best part of the dark nights ahead is the comforting winter dinners we can enjoy. From stews to savoury pies, winter food beats summer food every time. On Sunday, Aldi’s Specialbuy range is perfect for anyone planning on spending more time in their kitchen over the next few months.
Slow cookers are a great solution for time-pressed households, allowing you to chuck in ingredients in the morning and come home to a delicious meal. The range includes a Chalkboard Slow Cooker for €19.99 — with a 3.5 litre removable, non-stick ceramic pot and glass lid with heat-insulated handles.
It has three heat sitting and is dishwasher safe. Aldi’s range also includes a 99 litre capacity chest freezer for €129.99, a microwave oven for €49.99 and carbon steel pans for €19.99.
They are also selling a range of wooden utensil, sets of oven trays and a digital kitchen scales. All in store on Sunday October 13.
If there are any consumer issues that you’d like Gráinne to address or if you have problems that Gráinne could help with, she can be contacted at email@example.com