Tim Downes, senior claims manager, Lloyds TSB Home Insurance, said: "In winter we tend to think less about our homes’ exterior and like to retreat indoors, however there are some essential checks that need to be carried out to see it through the bad weather. Prevention is the key, as much of the damage could be avoided if householders spent a small amount of time preparing for the bad weather."
* Check the condition of the roof. Look for cracked or broken tiles, cracks in the chimney or problems with the pointing. If any repairs are needed, hire a professional roofing contractor to carry out the work as soon as possible;
* Clear the gutters and drain pipes of any leaves or debris that have built up in them to reduce the risk of blocks and overflows;
* Keep gates and outbuilding doors fastened securely and secure any other loose items;
* Check external light fittings are secure;
* Cut back low hanging branches that could cause damage in high winds or storms.
* Have your boiler serviced at least once a year by a GasSafe registered professional and have the central heating and gas fires checked to ensure they are working safely and efficiently;
* Check that the loft is insulated properly but also has adequate ventilation;
* Thicker curtains will help to keep more heat in the home;
* Keep the central heating set to at least 10 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.
In an emergency:
* Keep a home emergency kit prepared in case of a winter emergency such as a severe snowstorm. This could include torches, spare bulbs and batteries, your home insurance documents, other emergency contact details, tinned food, warm clothing, blankets and a shovel;
* Listen to the radio or check online for regular updates on the weather or other emergency situations.
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