Too early? Is it ever too early to take precautions? Prevention is better than cure.

The wise woman in my village is predicting that 2016-17 is going to be a harsh Winter. Mind you, she has done that every year for the past 10 years at least but she’s bound to be right one day.

The main risk to your home is water damage from frozen/burst pipes. If you are going away for a while – maybe to warmer climes – do check your insurance policy. Not only may there be a limit on the consecutive number of days that you can leave your home unoccupied, there are likely to be requirements either to drain down your water systems or to maintain a minimum level of heating.

Make sure that everyone in your home knows how to locate the stopcock and how to turn it off.

Check lagging on pipes, especially those you don’t see often such as those in the loft space and replace or top-up lagging as needed.

Insulate water tanks on all sides apart from underneath (this allows warm air to circulate).

Outside taps should be isolated and drained if not in regular use.

All taps should be run regularly.

Have guttering and drainage systems inspected and cleared of all debris.

Internally, keep furnishings and curtains clear of heaters.