Over the last number of years, Ireland has been battered and bruised with some ferocious storms including Emma, Orphelia and most recently storm Ellen. Each one leaving a trail of destruction, including flash floods due to intense wind and rainfall, a ridiculous amount of snow, power outages across thousands of homes for days at a time and property damage.
You may not be able to protect yourself fully from mother nature and her wicked ways, but there are lots of things that you can do now to help prepare your home, reduce potential damage caused by the severe weather, and keep your family safe. Here are a number of ways to help prepare your home for a storm.
Keep up to date
Firstly, regularly check and keep up to date with Met Eireann for severe weather warnings in your area and be prepared if you are at risk of a power outage.
Prepare a storm kit
Every family should have a storm kit ready to go with essentials to get you through the worst of weather. The emergency kit should contain a torch with new batteries, any necessary medication, a fully charged power bank, a first-aid kit and a list of useful contact numbers.
Avoid an onslaught of destruction by visually inspecting your home and garden for potential damage:
- Clear the gutter and drain pipes.
- Check where you turn off the electricity, gas and water supply.
- Inspect the roof for loose tiles or damaged chimney pots.
- Secure any TV aerials and fencing to prevent them from being lifted with heavy winds.
- Stake down trampolines and remove any netting.
- Unplug non-essential electrical devices to avoid damage in the event of a power surge.
- Secure any loose chairs, tables and garden ornaments, so they don’t blow away or get damaged.
- Check on any vulnerable neighbours and see if they need a helping hand.
Prepare an evacuation plan
In the event of an emergency, would you know what to do? You might, but elderly family members and young children may not. Creating an evacuation plan is one of the most important things you can do with your family. Your ability to get your family out alive all comes down to warnings and advance planning.
Who are you going to call?
When extreme weather hits, it is handy to have a list of useful contact numbers and websites accessible in case you are badly affected:
- ESB - 1850 372 999
- Gas Networks Ireland - 1850 205 050
- Irish Water - 1850 278 278
- Road Safety Authority - 1890 406 040
- AA Roadwatch - www.aa.ie
- Weather - www.met.ie
Check your insurance policy
Is your policy current up to date, and what level of cover does it have? Ensure it provides cover for specific events in your location, such as flash flooding or damage to property from falling trees. Every homeowner should have property insurance, and if you are renting, contents insurance is essential too.
And remember, if for any reason you do need to evacuate, turn off the gas, water and electricity before you leave but only if it is safe to do so.