Storm season in Perth has hit again. Storm warning bells can be heard all over Western Australia. Leaving in its wake a trail of damage, it is important that we responsibly prepare our homes to mitigate the effects of this wild weather. Occurring typically around July/ August in Perth, storms are Australia's most predominant natural hazard, and ranks above hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods and even hurricanes.
Our Winter Property Maintenance Guide, featuring a Focus on Storms, provides a checklist on how you can safeguard your family and property through this stormy weather:
1. Secure Garden Furniture and Outdoor Fittings
Loose furniture could fly around and pose a hazard, so make sure everything is stored and secured properly. It is important that lawn mowers and power tools are not left outside but carefully stowed in a safe and undercover area (e.g. shed).
Items that you should pay special attention to include flowerpots, damaged clapboards, patio heaters and bird feeders – they can be vulnerable to high winds. Do a quick scan around the garden and check that you have also kept outdoor toys, bicycles, play items away as the winds could easily pick some of the lighter items up and cause damage to your property.
2. Clean Your Gutters/Down Pipes
The best time to regularly ensure that your gutters are cleared is now. Look for obstructions and make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. This will prevent overflow in heavy rain. A little hassle on your end will go a long way and you will thank yourself later for this healthy house maintenance habit.
Well-maintained gutters reduce the need to replace them, you can prevent expensive roof damage as well. When gutters become clogged, they can leak and overflow and that puts a strain on your roof.
If you decide to use a ladder, do so with careful and safe consideration, and preferably with someone around to hold the base steady against the side of your house. It may be worthwhile to engage a handy person to help if you feel unsure, saving you the risk of potential injury. Using gloves, scoop out the debris and leaves from the gutters, the fully flush it out with your garden hose or a power hose. After it has been cleaned, double check that there are no drainage issues.
3. Check Your Roofs
The roof may be the weakest part of your home during a storm. Ensure that any roof damage is repaired by an expert. Also, secure any loose tiles as they are considered high risk and will cause serious damage when carried away by high winds.
Home-owners can avoid damage down the track by having existing roof damage repaired by an expert as soon as it’s noticed, ensuring it’s securely attached to the structural framing and wind-resistant material is installed. After all, loose tiles in high winds have the potential to be a safety hazard.
4. Protect your Electrical Accessories
Protect your electrical devices properly by connecting them to a surge protector. When there's lightning, you can take it a step further by unplugging devices and avoiding the landline phone.
In addition, it is a smart move to consider an inexpensive whole-house surge protector and have your electrician install it professionally so that all your electrical appliances can be kept safe from sudden power surges.
5. Protect Windows and Doors
Did you know that based on a survey performed by HiPages on home improvement categories that are most impacted by storms, ranked window repairs right at the top?
It is not uncommon to have breakages of glass windows and doors due to propelling winds. To strengthen the windows and doors at home, owners can opt to install shutters, awnings, screen doors as an added layer of protection.
It is also worthwhile checking exterior trims for gaps between window and door seals and filling it with good quality caulking products (or get a professional to do this for you), so that your home is kept comfortably warm over winter.
6. Trim back your trees
Beware of branches around the property as they can cause massive damage. Falling branches are common with fences, cars and properties destroyed.
Trim them to prevent them from falling and damaging surrounding property. Then dispose of them before the storms hit. If necessary, consider hiring a contractor to clear tree branches near power lines.
7. Prepare an Emergency Kit
As part of any home, there should be an emergency kit prepared and left in a place where it can be easily located when needed (but do remember to child-proof it).
Some of the items which should be included are:
- a first aid kit,
- battery-powered radio,
- flashlight with spare batteries,
- a basic Swiss Army knife or any pocketknife
- special requirements for the elderly, infants and vulnerable persons
8. Check Chimneys and Flues
If you have a fireplace that uses wood, always check that the chimney and flue are not cracked as gaps can lead to escaping embers which could ignite a fire.
Ensure that there all overhanging branches anywhere near the chimney has been trimmed off and get it professionally cleaned by a specialist so that there is no residual build-up of debris inside the chimney.
9. Your Furry Friends
Never forget your furry friends and take the required precaution to keep them safe and secure through the menacing storm. They can be easily frightened so do provide the extra comfort required. Prepare a place where they can have adequate shelter and warmth, and one where they can escape from the terrifying weather outside.
10. Extra Bonus Feature: Insurance Coverage
Check that your home, contents and car insurance are in order and don’t be caught out without one over this season.
For a full safety check so you are well prepared before, during and after a storm, please refer to the Storm Safety brochure by the Department of Fire & Emergency Services.
Our Property Managers at Time Conti Sheffield are available if you would like to have a chat about how you can best ensure safety through the storms in WA.
Photo source: The Western Australian