Extreme weather – how to protect your church building  

England and Wales have seen several incidents of severe weather recently and, likely, there will be more, making it even more important to protect your church building. Storms can cause significant damage to buildings with strong winds and heavy rain, lightning strikes and floods. Keeping on top of basic maintenance can help your church property withstand the worst the British weather can throw at it. It is a good idea to: 

Before the storm

Check the roof
A sturdy roof is essential to withstand strong winds and heavy rain. Regularly inspect the roof for any loose or damaged tiles or slates. Replace missing ones promptly and ensure everything is intact. Check any cement to ridges, verges, and eaves, and call in an experienced roofer if repairs are needed.

Reinforce doors and windows

Strong winds can exert immense pressure on doors and windows, causing them to break or even blow out completely in extreme cases. Check them thoroughly and invest in high quality materials where possible. Draught stripping can help cut down on unwanted air ingress and reduce your heating bills.

Secure fences

Make sure fence panels are fixed in place and garden gates are in good condition. Panels flying away or gates swinging wildly in the wind as they could cause injury or further property damage

Remove hazardous branches

Cut down loose or overhanging branches, particularly those close to windows or power lines. If a tree is planted in a neighbour’s garden but branches overhang your property, then you have the right to cut back those branches (probably best to mention it to the neighbour first though)

Clear gutters and drains

In the summer, gutters often go forgotten and dirt and other debris can build up. Regular maintenance will ensure that your gutters, downpipes and storm drain gulleys are clear of debris. Blocked gutters can cause water to accumulate, leading to water damage from leaks. Once you have finished clearing them, make sure they are securely fixed in place.

Evaluate the risk of flooding

Sign up to receive flood warnings and, if you are in a flood-prone area, create a flood plan so you know what to do if the property is at risk. Think about flood resilience and consider fitting flood gates, boards, and non-return valves to drains and air brick covers.

Health and safety

Some of the above jobs may be best left to a professional. If a task involves climbing up a ladder or working near power lines, be sure to get expert help.

When a storm is approaching

Secure outdoor Items

Do you have an outside space? Securely store or anchor outdoor furniture, barbecues, plant pots, and other loose objects that could become projectiles in strong winds. If you have access to storage space, you may want to place some items in there until storms pass, to stop them from becoming a hazard.

Close and fasten doors and windows
Do not forget to secure less frequently used entrances, like loft trapdoors.

Park vehicles in a garage, if you can
If you have a garage, use it. If not, try to park well away from trees, walls or fences that could fall in the face of strong winds.

During the storm

Once a storm hits, stay indoors as much as possible. Only head outside if it is absolutely essential. If you do hear or see something break, stay safe and wait until the storm is over before attempting repairs.  

After the storm

Contact your insurer

Do this as soon as possible if the property is damaged and let them know what has happened. While you wait for professionals to take care of any significant repairs, there may be some things you can do to start the clean-up. Always check with your insurer before you start.

List any damage to the property

Do not throw anything away in case it is needed for the claims process. It is also a good idea to photograph or video the damage.

Check in on vulnerable neighbours

They may need help with making arrangements for repairs.

Assess your surroundings

Remember to keep clear of electrical or telephone cables that have been blown down or are hanging loose.

Taking these precautions to protect the property against bad weather and storms can prevent significant damage and distress. Remember, it is always better to be prepared and take preventive measures to safeguard your home.