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Be Smart About South Africa

How To Prepare Your Home And Property For Natural Disasters And Severe Weather

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Anyone who has experienced the wrath of a South African storm will understand why the Level 4 warnings for the weekend ahead are to be taken seriously.

Hindsight is 20-20, right? It’s only in the aftermath of a disaster that we realise what we should have done to be better prepared. Severe storms can seriously damage your home, property and even your car, so make sure you’ve done all you can to stay safe from harm. 

Here are some ways that you can better protect your property during a storm and how to ensure that you are properly insured for any damage that you do experience. 

Keep your property safe

Basic home maintenance goes a long way in protecting your home against extreme weather, says Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth. Regularly cleaning out your gutters, for instance, can help prevent flooding when heavy rains occur.

Take a walk around your property and look for areas that are vulnerable to inclement weather. Heavy rainfall can cause damage and devalue your home, so make every effort to help water flow away from your house. 

Keeping your roof and gutters in good condition are important preventative measures against water damage, says Ribic. Fix loose tiles and weatherproof weakened, rusted areas that could allow water to get in, and clear gutters of any leaves or debris that could block them. Angle your downspouts, too, so that water flows away from your home’s foundation. Check that all windows and doors in your house can seal properly against the rain and that outdoor drains aren’t blocked.

Strong winds can cause havoc in a storm, snapping off loose tree branches and blowing them against your home, damaging the roof and windows. Trim branches regularly and be aware that trees with shallow roots are more prone to being blown over by strong, sustained winds when the soil is saturated with moisture from heavy rains. 

If a big storm is approaching, minimise the danger of objects being flung about by moving outdoor furniture, gardening tools, and empty plant pots to a safer space. Lighter items can all be picked up by heavy winds and sent flying through a window, possibly causing injury to those inside.

Make sure, too, that building additions like carports can withstand severe winds and won’t be blown down. If you aren’t inclined to DIY, an app like SweepSouth Connect has a list of professionals like handymen and builders, who can help you to storm-ready your home way ahead of when an actual extreme weather event hits your area. 

Insure your home

Even though you take every precaution to protect your home, there are times when the weather is so fierce that damage does occur. Heavy rainfall can lead to flooding, hail can dent gutters and shatter windows, strong winds can damage roofs and lightning strikes can cause structural damage, explosive surges and even fires. 

Such weather events can be disastrous for homeowners, says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond, so make sure you have adequate home insurance in place to cover you. Check your insurance policy so that you understand what you’re covered for, and make sure that, like with BetterSure’s Homeowners Cover, your insurer will provide support in times of crisis, with an expert team of professionals like plumbers and electricians on speed dial if your home has been damaged.

“Your home is probably your most expensive investment and most valuable asset, so you have to make sure you’re insured correctly,” says Coetzee.

Check with your car insurer concerning cover 

From a car insurance perspective, not every policyholder can claim for extreme weather conditions from their vehicle insurer. Head of MiWay Blink, Christiaan Steyn says, “While not all insurance policies provide cover against natural disasters, comprehensive insurance cover offers the widest cover which includes cover against theft and hijacking, damages due to an accident, fire or explosion and natural disasters. However, this type of cover is optional and only applies if the policyholder has chosen comprehensive cover – which comes at a higher cost.”

Steyn advises residents of the Garden Route, and owners of cars in general, to check with their insurers concerning cover against natural disasters, so that they know in advance whether they would be covered in the event of flood damage to a vehicle. This will assist those who are not covered for natural disasters to get the right cover before it is too late.

Even if you don’t live on the Garden Route, do you have all your bases covered when it comes to protecting your property in the event of natural disasters? If not, it’s probably time to get it all in place. Inclement weather can strike at any time – severe storms in the Western Cape in November were not expected.

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