NFU Mutual has warned that Storm Kathleen, which is set to arrive tomorrow (Saturday, April 6), could potentially wreak “havoc on properties”.

Storm Kathleen is set to hit the South West, North West, Wales, Northern Ireland and western Scotland with gusts of up to 70m/ph forecast and rural and coastal areas being recognised as particularly vulnerable.

The rural insurer is urging people to “take action to prevent damage” before the storm arrives.

NFU Mutual home insurance expert, Andrew Chalk, said: “While we’re not expecting this to be a massive storm, we know from experience that wind storms can cause millions of pounds of damage and be hugely disruptive to thousands of people.

“We have some warning of Storm Kathleen so our message to home and business owners is to take action now to prevent damage, if you you are able to do so – during a storm is too late.

“Gale-force winds can rip tiles from roofs or branches from trees, or topple walls, so if it’s safe and you’re able to do so you should think about securing roofs and walls and pruning overhanging branches.”

Likewise, Chalk said loose garden furniture or ornaments can be thrown around in storms, effectively becoming “battering rams”, and is urging homeowners to tie them down or store them away from the wind.

“Make sure vehicles are kept in a safe place and ensure windows and doors can be and are shut during the storm,” he said.

“As well as taking the steps above, farmers and business owners should have a storm plan in place which ensures the safety of all workers and has a clear plan for maintaining contact. Prepare for power cuts and check any back-up generators are in working order.”

Farmers and rural areas

Chalk said livestock farmers should have a plan to move animals to safety, if possible, and ensure barn doors and fences can be secured.

“We know that isolated rural properties and those on the coast are generally most at risk from storm damage, so we urge people in these areas to be especially vigilant,” he said.

NF Mutual has advice for farmers before, during and after the storm.

Before the storm, farmers should:

  • Stay alert for Met Office weather warnings;
  • Regularly inspect your farm and keep on top of maintenance by carrying out necessary repairs to buildings, fences and walls whilst the weather is calm;
  • Check that tiles, slates, and roofing sheets are in place and put away any items that cannot be secured;
  • Avoid being near barn doors if there are high winds;
  • Make sure gutters are not leaking and are clear of leaves and other debris;
  • Protect and lag water pipes in vulnerable areas and know where the water supply is so that you can turn it off in the event of burst pipes;
  • Ensure you have a good tree inspection programme in place, paying particular attention to trees bordering buildings, roads, railway lines and rights of way;
  • Prepare for power cuts: have torches and batteries to hand and make sure any generators are ready to use, and can run at full load for long periods of time, if required;
  • Plan evacuation routes to get staff and livestock to safety in the case of extreme weather such as floods – identify higher ground that you can move livestock to in event of flooding.

During the storm, farmers are urged to not leave the house or make journeys unless “absolutely necessary”.

If journeys are essential, drive slowly and carefully, staying aware of high winds on exposed roads and ice and water on the road.

Farmers are urged to not attempt emergency repairs during the storm and should keep all building doors and windows closed.

After the storm, farmers should be aware of power cables or powerlines that may have been brought down.

They should not enter any buildings that could be unsafe following the storm.