Severe storms and weather warnings can feel stressful, especially if you fear half your garden flying away, or if in the aftermath your front lawn has been left battered by winds and rain. But if you're prepared, there's a few things you can do to keep yourself and your home safe, and make tidying up afterwards a lot easier.
Check The Weather
The Met Office or BBC will give you information on predicted severe weather, including when storms will hit, and what kind of warnings and conditions to expect. During any bad storm the Met Office will regularly update their warnings from yellow, amber, or red to inform people of the storm’s severity and when it ends.
Make sure you’ve got enough supplies in your home to last you the duration of the storm – this limits the possibility of you having to go out to restock, so you can stay safe and dry inside. Some vital supplies you should have include:
Enough food for everyone in the house, including non-perishable food that will last for several days
A gallon of water per person per day
Torches and extra batteries in case of a power cut
Warm clothing and blankets
First aid kit in case of emergancies
If there’s anything you usually keep in your garden that you want to keep safe – put it away:
Put bikes in the shed, bring in smaller patio furniture, and cover over anything that’s too big to shift like a large patio sofa.
Make sure there’s no excess debris in your front or back gardens such as broken tree branches.
Cut back any large trees or shrubbery you have to avoid these being ripped apart by the wind.
Assess possible problem areas around your home:
Make sure all of your outside bins are tied or weight down so they won’t fly off in the wind and possibly cause damage to yours or someone else’s home.
Check all locks on gates are strong and secure.
Reinforce fencing with concrete posts, ensuring these posts are sunk deep into the ground and attached with strong fixings, to stop any loose fence posts becoming further damaged and pulling your fence down.
Check for any loose bricks across your walls, loose shingles across your roof, and loose piping or guttering. Remove or reinforce anything you fear might become a hazard.
Make sure people you love and care about are also prepared. Many people find storms distressing, especially if they live on their own. If anyone you know will need support during the bad weather, either invite them to stay with you or stay with them during the storm, or make sure they’re with someone who will be able to help.
As the storm rages, the best thing you can do is stay inside, where you can stay warm, dry, and safe. It’s a good idea to unplug any non-essential electrical items, all of them if you can, to help lessen the possibility of power outages.
Always wait until the storm has fully passed before starting clean up. Through the Met Office’s regular updates, you’ll know when it’s safe to go outside again.
Always check for damages and clean up when its daytime and light outside.
Always wear suitable and protective clothing: Sturdy shoes, long sleeved shirts, thick coats and trousers, protective gloves, and safety goggles are all basic safety clothing that will help minimise the risk of injury during clean up.
Take photos of any damage your property has suffered before you start clean-up for insurance purposes.
If your home has been flooded or is suffering water damage, it’s important to act as quickly as possible. Possessions may be salvageable if they are properly dried out within 48 hours.
Do not walk, drive, or enter flooded areas as the waters are likely to be toxic and stray, unseen debris is an injury risk.
If safe to do so, turn off all electrical devices until your property has been fully dried out. If this is not safe or possible, do not touch anything electrical.
Flood water must be removed from your home. Water pumps, sump pumps, and wet vacs are the most efficient at this and can pump up to 10 gallons of water a minute.
Keep dry air circulating throughout your home. Dehumidifiers and desiccants will draw moisture out of the air, while keeping doors and windows open will help fresh air circulate throughout the house, and fans can help speed this process up.
Remove and replace any damaged dry wall in your home, as it is extremely susceptible to mould.
Clean everything with disinfectant. Again, flood waters from storms may be toxic and can contaminate your home. All surfaces, hard flooring, and possessions must be properly cleaned if you wish to keep them.
Dispose of anything you cannot fully dry out or disinfect.
Roof and Window Repairs
Check your roof for any damaged or missing shingles. Repair any that you find to ensure your roof is kept protected and watertight.
If your roof has suffered major damage, such as large areas of destroyed shingles or worse, call in a roof contractor to assess and fix the damage.
Check your ceilings inside for any water spots or damp patches; these will highlight any areas of your roof you have missed that need immediate attention.
Board up any broken or shattered windows until they can be repaired by a contractor.
Garden Clean Up
Tidying up the front or back garden after a storm can seem daunting, especially if fly-away wheelie bins and masses of branches are lying around. While tidying up outside, make sure you avoid any damaged wires and phonelines and avoid flooded areas of the street.
If trees from the street or their branches have been blown over and are affect your garden, call your local council as they will be able to help remove it.
Typical gardening tools like rakes or litter pickers will be a massive help in the clean-up. Rake up smaller debris into piles so it’s easier to assess and deal with.
Heftier branches or masses of debris might need some more heavy-duty tools like leaf blowers; they’ll make cleaning up much quicker and safer, as you won’t be manually picking up anything that could cause you injury or illness.
Pressure washers will blast away massive amounts of debris and will also help you clean down any vehicles, driveways, and house walls that have gotten dirty, damaged, or possibly contaminated by flood water.
Just as with before the storm, check in with your loved ones and make sure they have everything they need for their own clean up, and that they haven’t been too affected by the storm. If you’ve got a lot of work to do outside, chances are your neighbours do too, and now will be a great time to band together and help each other. Some of your neighbours may have the tools you need to properly clean up, while you may have some tools they need. In times of very bad weather, its important we all stick together and help each other out so that once the storms have passed, we can all clean up, move on, and get back to a normal routine as quickly as possible!