A little drizzle or an overnight seasonal downpour is not a cause for concern. Every plant in your garden will be able to withstand mild to moderate rainfall. The threat emanates from heavy downpours. When it rains relentlessly or your area receives torrential rain accounting for the expected rainfall of a month in just a few hours, there are some serious dangers. Not only your garden but your home too will be at risk. You must prepare well to protect your garden and home from such heavy rains.
The approach has to be multipronged. You need to ensure your home is in impeccable condition, from the roofs to the gutters. You need to protect all your plants and trees, the fixtures and furniture, equipments and tools in the garden.
How to Secure your Roof?
Every homeowner should get the roof inspected at least twice a year. It could be more frequent if the roof is very old. Don’t wait to fix a leak till it rains and causes water damage in your house. Don’t wait for a torrential downpour before you replace some shingles or attend to the weatherproofing. Get rid of algae and mold, mildew and any other material that will allow water buildup or check the flow of water when it rains. Look for signs of sagging, damage and aging on your roof. Look for cracks in the chimney or flashing, missing tiles, granules from the shingles or tiles and make sure you have a strong, weatherproofed roof. Consult a roofer to proactively upgrade your roof.
Attend to the Guttering!
Gutters play an important role in your house and are an integral fixture of the roofing system. The gutters would channel the water away from the roof, down the pipes to the main drain. Some houses have special flood drains connected to the civic drainage system. Without optimally functioning and sturdy gutters, you would have water falling and splashing all around. Water from the roof will seep down the exteriors. Water will invade your home through the cracks and vents they get, through the soffits and even windows and doors.
This will immediately cause significant water damage. All your wooden furniture will be damaged, metallic fixtures will corrode and rust, you would have a mould problem in your home, condensation will erode the brickwork and the health of your family will be put at risk.
Inspect the guttering, check if it is broken somewhere or if there is a leak, if there are blockages in the path of water runoff, if the gutter will overflow during heavy rains and if it will hold strong when the rain gods wreak havoc. Upgrade the guttering if needed, get rid of the blockages, get tight-fitting wire mesh and plastic caps if needed, ensure the gutters are not clogged by leaves, dirt and granules form the tiles or shingles. Get rid of all debris from the roof and gutters.
Be Safe while attending to Roof and Guttering
Do not attempt to fix anything yourself unless you are trained and experience to do so. You should hire a roofer who can also attend to the gutter. Do not try to climb up to the roof using ladders when it is already raining heavily, don’t try to replace roofing materials when the weather is not right, do not use rods or sticks to clean gutters as excessive force can damage them instead of unclogging and always have help at your disposal instead of trying to do anything alone. Prune or trim overhanging trees, get rid of fall leaves and take care of any elevated fixture that will facilitate water runoff during heavy rains.
Planning Ideal Storage
All garden equipments, furniture and tools will be vulnerable to damage when it rains heavily. You must not allow any fixture to get wet for a prolonged period of time. You don’t need to worry if it just rains a little for a few minutes or even an hour. But heavy rains for days will damage everything you have outside.
Plan a temporary shed. You may have a barn, garage or store room you can use. Your shed must be weatherproofed. It doesn’t make any sense to bring in dry furniture, equipment and tools only to keep them in a place that will have water dripping through the roof or ceiling and damaging the stuff anyway.
There will be garden furniture that you cannot bring into your home or even move to a shed. You may not be able to create temporary sheds for all types of garden furniture. Barbecue pits and many such fixtures require a different approach. Fixed wooden or metallic furniture will also need a different remedy. You can opt for waterproofing treatments for wooden garden furniture. There are material specific treatments or coatings to prevent rotting, splitting, warping, corrosion and rusting. You can get waterproof barbecue covers to prevent rusting.
Holistic Protection for your Home
A home must always have multilayered protection. If you are painting your exteriors with weatherproof paint then you must also insulate the walls, doors and windows. The interiors and exteriors must be in impeccable condition for holistic protection against weather extremes.
- Just as you would check the roof outside, you should also check the interiors to observe signs of damage. You can inspect the attic, look for signs indicating sagging, any symptom of water damage, dark spots, leaks, trails and natural or artificial light seeping in through the roof.
- For adequate protection against rain, you should invest in draught proofing. You can use deflectors and rain bars, install them at your doors, windows and other existing vents or openings. These sealants will guard you against smoke, dust, draughts, light, insects and will also contribute to energy conservation by facilitating insulation.
- Insulation is a prerequisite for any home. Usually, insulation is contemplated upon from the perspective of scorching summers and freezing winters. Insulation should also factor in the temperature fluctuations during heavy rains. Winds accompanying rains and thunderstorms in particular will call for better insulation of pipes and especially hot water tanks so the temperature of the water remains pleasantly comfortable. You would also need adequate insulation in case of flooding during heavy rains.
You must be proactive with all these inspections and should get things done before the rains. Preferably, you should conduct the checks before it is supposed to rain or when you are alerted of an impending cyclonic weather. You should know where you’re the mains of your supply lines are. You may have to turn off the utilities from the mains and then turn them on when the rains have subsided.
Protection has to be a proactive measure and not reactive. You need home contents insurance, protection against flood damage, you must have precious assets protected in waterproof bags and preferably in safes that would endure flooding, you should have water and gas mains turned off, you should have emergency kits including torches and spare batteries.
There are areas more prone to flooding. You can never rule out flooding or water damage when it just doesn’t stop raining. Typical precautions or protection would not work when there is a flood. Here are some advanced precautions that you should consider.
- Get sandbags, hydro sacks and vent guards. These will keep water out. You must inform all your family members where these sandbags are, where they should be placed in the event of flooding and how one must use the hydro sacks or vent guards to have the desired impact. Sandbags can block drains, doorways, to keep manhole covers down, to protect garden furniture and also to block sinks or drains in the toilet so you don’t have a backing up problem.
- Hydro sacks are a relatively better option compared to sand bags. Hydro sacks are evolved, they can absorb twenty litres of water, the water doesn’t get released even if the sacks get punctured and they are very effective, certainly more than sandbags, at setting up a barrier during a flood.
- Ideally, you should practice setting up sandbags and hydro sacks. You should also train your family. In areas prone to flooding, local authorities may provide sandbags or hydro sacks. You should consider securing the perimeter of your house with these sandbags or hydro sacks before the storm hits.
- You can make emergency sandbags with pillows, blankets and all kinds of materials you have in your home that will soak up and retain moisture. The objective is to create an absorbing barrier all around your house and particularly at the points of entrance or where water can seep through. Create as many such barriers as you can. Many homeowners opt for multiple layers of barriers using hydro sacks and other materials.
- Every home has a certain gradient. Even if the sloping is not apparent to the naked eye, you will have water flowing in from one direction towards another. You must be aware of this. You will have to protect your home from the natural water flow from the direction it slopes down and you should facilitate the flow of water away from your home in the other direction. If you happen to be in a low lying area, then water will flow in from almost all directions. This calls for complete sealing of the entire perimeter of the house.
- You should seal the vents and gaps in doors, windows and any other fixtures you have that will facilitate water to seep through. You should protect the floors as well because they suffer the worse damage.
How to Prevent Flood Damage
Homes in low lying areas or flood prone zones should have lofts and other spaces high up in the second storey or higher where all the valuable assets or goods of the household can be stored. Flood prone areas will almost always get flooded when there is heavy rain. The loft or attic and other spaces above the ground floor being used for storage must be weatherproofed. They should not be vulnerable to water or moisture damage.
You should consider elevating everything you have at the ground floor. You should elevate the couches or chairs, the tables and desks, the cabinets and all your appliances. You can use bricks or stilts, special accessories or you can make foundations using sandbags upon which you can place your furniture. All fixtures that are fixed and cannot be moved should be sealed in waterproof bags.
You should have an emergency kit in your home if you live in a flood prone area or if your area receives heavy rains quite a few times every year. Making an emergency kit is not that hard. You need essential medication, bottled drink water, canned or tinned foods, opt for nonperishable foods such as nuts and seeds, dried fruits and packaged ready to eat snacks, get a camping stove and a kettle, matches, torches and spare batteries. Keep a list of all the numbers you would need and you can have it laminated or in a sealed pouch to prevent it from damage. The list should have numbers of the local council, emergency services, insurance company, friends and neighbours. You should also have a document with all your personal details, including banking information, insurance details and healthcare information.
An emergency kit must have essential items for everyone in the family. Kids will need baby food, toys, nappies and other clean clothes. Pets will need bedding and food. You should have a battery powered radio, completely charged phone or two, rubber gloves, waterproof clothes or raincoats, waterproof boots, blankets, first aid kit and you should have an emergency plan.
An emergency plan will include the exit strategy, how long you can sustain in the house, where you should keep your car, how you would drive away if you have to, where should your first stop be, what would be the ideal refuge if the rains don’t stop, what should your first response system be, what all you must do before you can leave your house, what you should carry with you, which fixtures and personal assets or valuables must you take along with you and if you will be able to take everyone at the same time as otherwise you need a special plan.
When you are caught in a flood, look out for yourself and take care of your family. Do not go out of your home as long as you can endure it inside, try not to drive or even get out in the floodwater, call the emergency numbers and get the latest information or weather updates, stay away from the floodwater, use the radio to stay updated and try to stay in contact with your neighbours.
There are many ways you can stay proactively updated about heavy rains and possible flooding. You can get flood warnings at Floodline Warnings Direct. This is a free service and you will get the alerts via email, text, fax and you can get a call if you so choose. You will get enough time to prepare and be alert when you get updated by Floodline. You can call 08459881188 from within England, Wales and Scotland.