How to prepare your house for climate change

Climate change is starting to increase the average temperature
Climate change is now starting to increase the average temperature of the planet
Most people now agree that climate change is happening. The evidence from around the world is becoming more and more compelling. Realistically, as an individual there is very little you can do to reverse the impacts of climate change on a global scale. However, when it comes to your own home there is actually a lot you can do in order to be better prepared for when the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worst. Below each of the risks that might affect your home is covered with suggestions of what precautions and preparations you can take in readiness.

Torrential rain and Flooding

One of the more common effects of climate change is a sudden and dramatic increase in rainfall that breaks all records for the area affected. Just because your house has never been flooded in the past is now longer a guarantee that it will not happen in the future. It is now more essential than ever to stand in front of your home and think what would happen if the mother of all rainstorms hits your house and surrounding area. You now  need to check the following before the worst rainstorm of all time hits your house:
  • Check that your house roof and any external buildings
    Make sure that your house roof and any external buildings are in good working order. For example: are there any loose tiles or holes that need to be sealed.
  • Check your gutters and downpipes are clear of debri and blockages such as leaves
    Gradually throughout the summer and autumn your gutters can become clogged with leaves and soil and silt up, this often then also blocks the downpipes as well. Make sure these are always kept clear, especially since sudden torrential downpours can now occur at any time of the year and not just during the winter time. There are now extra long gutter cleaners available to assist with this task.
  • Really stop and seriously think about where an exceptional large volume of water would go around your property
    Not only is the water probably coming straight down to your property, but it could also be flowing to your property already on the ground. Where will this water collect? how can you ensure that the water keeps flowing past your property instead. Do you need to create new drainage channels and holes in garden walls etc. in order to help it to flow away and keep moving past your property.
  • Do you have flood prevention measures at hand
    If given enough warning could you get access to sand bags or flood prevention boards to seal up your external doors in order to prevent the water entering your house. It is worth keeping several empty sand bags in your house, ready to use if needed. See: Water Activated Flood Barriers
  • Make a plan of what you would move first if the water started to come in
    If you had to move everything in your house very quickly to an upstairs room, do you have a priority list of what needs to be moved first, bear in mind that the amount of time to do this may be very short. Do you have some blocks that items such as fridges and dishwashers could be lifted onto to keep them clear of the water.
  • Consider having a back flow valve fitted
    If your house is at very high risk of flooding then consider having a back flow valve fitted into your sewage system to prevent water back flowing into your property through the sewer system.
  • Consider purchasing having a sump pump installed
    You may want to consider having a Quality Sump Pump fitted such as those made by Zoeller - especially if you have a cellar or basement, this can help slow down the rate at which your property is becoming flooded or at least assist in removing the water afterwards.
  • Have a rescue plan
    If you needed to be rescued from your house by boat, which window would be the best one to exit from - draw up an escape plan in advance.
  • Check your house insurance
    Check your house insurance to see what cover you have for flood damage, many insurance policies do not cover you for this, especially if you live in an area known for flooding.

High Winds, Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Fallen trees due to bad storm
Fallen trees following high winds
Here in the UK we luckily don't get many Hurricanes and Tornadoes, but we do get several high wind storms usually during the winter months. Although Hurricanes are rare, the Uk still does gets an occasional Hurricane such as the one that hit in 1987. The UK does get around 30 Tornadoes a year on average, however they are not as powerful as the ones in the USA. However, as the climate starts to change the frequency and strength of UK Hurricanes and Tornadoes may also start to change. You should therefore start to consider the following:
  • Prepare in advance
    Check your property and garden and surrounding areas for loose items that may become airbourne and need to be secured. Trampolines are a good example of an item that oftem becomes airbourne. The weather forecast can often give 2 or 3 days warning that a bad storm is approaching. Do not waste this time. Make sure everything that is loose is either dismantled or tied down.
  • Consider protective shutters on all your house windows.
    Up to now this is a consideration that has not really been needed all that much. However, with Climate change making storms much worse than they used to be, this is a consideration that should be given some serious long term thought. There are several different Window Roller Shutter options available such as the traditional wooden shutters or more modern electric roller shutters. You may even want to consider large wooden panels that can be screwed across the windows when needed. These can be stored in a garage or an outbuilding when not needed.
  • Fencing panels
    Make sure all your fence panels and posts are in good working order and well attached. Once a panel starts to become lose it will rock back and forth in the wind until it eventually breaks free. If you know that a particular bad storm is approaching you may want to temporarily fix extra angled supports at 45 degrees to the posts to help push back against the wind.
  • Large trees nearby
    If you have large trees near to your property, you need to check on them regularly and keep them under control. If you have a tree that has the potential to serious damage your house if it fell over, then you need to get it reduced down to a point where it can no longer do any damage if it were to fall over. Tree surgeons will be able to come out and advise you on what work will be required in order to make the tree safe.
  • Check your roof for lose tiles
    Roof tiles need to be well securred, once one roof tile fails, then it makes the next tile along vunerable to the wind and suddenly your whole roof is starting to peel off. A flying roof tile is very dangerous to you and your family, also when they smash into other items around your property (such as your car) it can cause a lot of expensive damage.
  • Lightening strikes
    Often with a bad storm it also brings the danger of lightening strikes as well. If your property is taller than any other structure around it then there is a chance that it could be hot with a lightening strike.

Extra Large Hailstones

Extra large hailstones seems to be one of the things that has definitely become more common since climate change has increased. These have the potential to cause serious head injuries as well as severe damage to properties. Consider the following options:
  • Check how strong your windows and roof coverings are
    Poor quality window panels will probably smash if hit with a large hailstone whereas a good quality panel has a good chance of surviving it.
  • Cover your car with a car port
    There are many photographs on the internet of cars with large dents in their bodywork from hits from large hailstones. If you are out driving at the time there is not a lot you can do. However if your car is parked on your property then you could at least consider a car port in order to protect it from hailstone hits. This is only a good idea if the car port itself can cope with direct hailstone hits, so make sure that it is built from strong good quality components - especially the roof panels.

Drought, Heatwaves and Fires

Severe drought conditions
Severe drought is now one of the most common sonsequences of climate change
As well as climate increasing the chance of flooding it also increases the chances of drought and fires. Once the ground becomes very dry the risk of fire also becomes very high.
  • Never assume you are safe from the risk of wild fire.
    If your property is surrounded by fields full of dry grass or dry trees then the risk of a wild fire becomes much greater.
  • Check how a fire could reach your home
    If a fire reached the boundary of your property what items would assist it to reach your house? The obvious things here are wooden fence panels, or a line of trees, or a hedge, or a series of connected outbuildings. Some planning in advance when designing your layout will greatly assist in reducing the chances of a fire reaching your house. For example one tree missing in the middle of a line of trees or a gap in a series of outbuildings. With wooden fence panels you may want to make sure that one in the middle could be removed very quickly in the event that a fire was burning along them.
  • Reduce the size of any trees on your property
    Keep all the trees on your property down to a reasonable size. This will reduce the amount of wood fuel available to the fire if it were to catch fire, also it will reduce the amount of burning leaves blowing around which may spread the fire further.
  • Heatwave protection
    In the future as average temperatures start to increase and the peaks also increase it will be important to investigate every available of ways to keep your home cool. For example it is well known that white paint reflects light and heat and darker colours absorb light and heat. This is why many houses in hotter countries are painted white. Therefore try to avoid painting any outside surfaces around your home in dark colours. If a heatwave is expected then leave your curtains closed all day, this will help prevent the sunlight from warming up the roon during the day. If you can afford the extra electric then using a Mini Portable Air Conditioner Unit in each room will also helpt to keep the average temperature to a comfortable level.

Snow and Ice and Extreme cold

Houses in snow prepare for climate change
Houses coping during snow fall
One of the more common effects of climate change has been an increase in the severity of cold snaps. As well as records being broken for new high temperatures, records are also being broken for extreme cold temperatures as well. This can cause many problems for your home which need to be addressed before the arrival of the cold snap arriving.
  • Make sure that your central heating is serviced every year
    Keeping your central heating serviced is critical. The last thing you need is for your central heating to fail right in the middle of a really cold spell.
  • Check your roof insulation is sufficient
    Heat rises and it is your roof insulation that stops the heat from rising right through your roof into the atmosphere. If you need to buy additional roof insulation or replace old insulation then you can
  • Check that your plumbing is properly protected
    Keep all the trees on your property down to a reasonable size. This will reduce the amount of wood fuel available to the fire if it were to catch fire, also it will reduce the amount of burning leaves blowing around which may spread the fire further.
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