Householders advised to winter-proof the home

Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager for Halifax Home Insurance says: "Winter is the time when we retreat to the warmth and safety of our homes, but before doing so there are some essential checks that need to be carried out. With home emergencies, prevention is certainly better than the cure, and much of the damage can be avoided if householders spent a small amount of time preparing for the bad weather."

Inside:

• Have your boiler serviced at least once a year by a Gas Safe registered gas 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.

Outside:

• 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.

In an emergency:

• Keep a home emergency kit prepared in case of a winter emergency such as a severe snow storm. 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 for regular updates on the weather or other emergency situations.

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