guide to summer home protection
Protect your home this summer
Summer is in full swing and a generous dose of long-awaited sunshine has swept across the UK these past few weeks. With the possibility of heatwaves on the horizon, our team at Homeprotect has prepared a guide to help our customers protect themselves against any unforeseeable events this summer.
Here are some valuable tips to help you make the most of summer while minimising risks to you, your home, and your belongings.
Barbecue safety precautions
Summer is the perfect time for barbecues in the garden and warm summer evenings gathered round a fire pit outside.
While barbecues are a quintessential part of summer here in the UK, they’re also a major cause for fires. Simple mistakes such as cooking accidents, poorly disposed BBQ materials, and electrical faults are just a few overlooked events that lead to garden fires and in some cases significant damage to homes.
If you are hosting or attending a BBQ this summer, we urge you to take the necessary precautions needed to protect your home, belongings, and loved ones.
Here’s our list of essential safety measures you should be following:
- Do notleave your BBQ unattended at any time
- Never position your BBQ inside your home, on a balcony, in a tent, or anywhere near a closed space. BBQs produce carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in high concentrations
- Ensure any children or pets are kept away from the BBQ
- Give plenty of space between your BBQ and trees, fences, or any other flammable objects
- Have a bucket of water or sand nearby to put out any fires in case of an emergency
- BBQs can remain hot for hours after use. Ensure that your BBQ has cooled completely before touching it or disposing of anything – never toss any hot embers into a bin (even if there aren’t any flames, heat is often the cause of fires)
If using a gas BBQ:
- Always check that the gas tap is turned off when the BBQ is not in use, as well as before changing the gas cylinder
- Change the cylinder outside where there is better ventilation
- Ensure the BBQ is in good condition – do not use if any parts seem broken
If using a charcoal BBQ:
- Don’t use more charcoal than necessary – use enough to cover the BBQ’s base, about 2 inches worth
- Do not use petrol or paraffin to light a BBQ, only use fire lighters and a small amount of starter fuel on cold coals
- Do not throw away any ashes until they have cooled completely
If using a disposable BBQ:
- Do not placed it on grass or a wooden surface
- Raise the BBQ on bricks or concrete surfaces and always ensure whatever surface you use is completely flat
- Once the BBQ has completely cooled (it may take several hours), pour water over it to get rid of any remaining heat
2. Other fire hazards to be aware of
- Keep reflective items, such as mirrors, away from direct sunlight. Sunlight bounces off reflective items and poses a fire risk to flammable objects
- Regularly clean AC units or fans to prevent a build-up of dust, which can cause a fire in hot weather
- Use stubbing posts or ashtrays to fully put out cigarette stubs – throwing them away in a bin won’t be enough on its own. Hot weather can make bins dryer, hotter, and as a result more flammable
- Remove combustible waste such as sticks, leaves, and cardboard, as these materials tend to be more flammable and allow fires to spread much faster
- Keep a close eye on mobile phones that are charging, as in the warm weather they heat quickly and could be a fire hazard
Your Homeprotect policy has fire cover as standard. Just make sure that your sums insured for your buildings, outbuildings and contents are adequate, so you’re not underinsured. And please be as alert and sensible as possible when using barbecues and fire pits, as reckless damage is excluded.
Subsidence is the movement of a building’s foundations caused by downward movement in the ground. Subsidence is especially common during summer, due to dry weather causing soil to shrink and lose moisture. Some locations are more affected by subsidence than others, such as old mining towns, as well as soil type in the area. Clay soils are susceptible to subsidence due to the soil expanding when wet and shrinking during periods of prolonged dryness.
All buildings move and settle over the years, sometimes leaving hairline cracks, but these are rarely cause for concern and are only cosmetic. The difference with subsidence is that large cracks appear both inside and outside the property in a very short period.
While subsidence can take many months or even years to become obvious, you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of being affected by subsidence by following these steps:
- Hire an expert to help remove any trees and bushes planted near the house that could be causing complications. An arboriculturist (tree specialist) will be able to provide advice on matters involving tree and root control. Trees are one of the most common causes of subsidence, as the roots withdraw moisture from the soil supporting the foundations. You can also maintain your trees with regular pruning.
- Carry out regular inspections of your property, paying particular attention to pipework, gutters and drainage systems in case of leaks and/or blocks. Another common cause of subsidence is drain leakage, where water escapes from underground pipes and washes away (or softens) soils so that they are no longer able to support the weight of the foundations.
Unless your property is permanently or long term unoccupied then your Homeprotect policy will typically cover subsidence cover as standard, though it won’t harm to check your policy documents for any ‘endorsements’ which may exclude subsidence cover.
While we encourage you to open your windows and get as much cool air as you need, be careful of theft.
Avoid leaving open windows unattended – especially on the ground floor. If leaving your home, always lock all windows and doors, and if you have alarms and cameras, make sure they are switched on, even if you’re only gone for a short period of time.
Unless you have an endorsement excluding theft cover (check your policy documents) then your Homeprotect policy will provide cover for theft (or attempted theft), but only where the thief causes damage while trying to get into your home (or outbuildings), or they use violence or deception to gain entry.
Protecting electronics and other belongings outside
Exposure to sunlight for long periods can damage electronics. Store any electronics away from windows where there’s direct sunlight and, if using any electronics outside, try sitting in the shade.
Your electronic gadgets will need to be specified in order for them to be covered outside the home – so if you need a reminder of what items you have specified then check your policy documents. If you have gadgets you’re particularly concerned about, in terms of physical damage or theft whilst outside, then give us a call and add them to your policy.
Protecting your contents whilst on holiday
Whether it’s a staycation, or holiday abroad, you’ll want to make sure your prized possessions are suitably insured.
With your Homeprotect policy we provide optional personal possessions cover for your everyday items (e.g. clothes, bags, sports equipment) that are individually worth less than £1,500 that you regularly take away from your home. It covers you against physical damage or theft, anywhere in the world. We also enable you to cover your gadgets, bikes and valuables away from the home, also against physical damage or theft, anywhere in the world, via our ‘specified item’ cover option.
If you need a reminder, check your policy documents to see whether you have sufficient personal possessions or specified items cover. If not, then give us a call and add them to your policy.
Our experts are on hand if you have any questions. You can find more info about getting in touch with us here.
Wishing you a safe and wonderful summer!
The Homeprotect team