Much of South Africa has been battered by heavy rain and thunderstorms this past week – with major flooding in the KwaZulu-Natal region causing havoc for residents and property owners.
Recovering financially from severe storm damage can be a mammoth task, which is why it’s always good to take precautions to safeguard property, possessions and, if possible, avoiding driving when the weather turns threatening.
Christelle Colman, insurance expert at Old Mutual Insure, provides some advice in this regard:
“The most important thing to do is to avoid panicking. Thinking logically and taking action could save your life,”she says. Turning to precautions that homeowners should take, Colman says that potential damage can be caused by lightning and rainfall. Homeowners can avoid damage by:
- Taking to heart weather warnings sent through to their cell phones by insurance companies.
- Keeping gutters clear of leaves and other debris. Clogged gutters and drainpipes result in water accumulating and seeping into ceilings.
- When lightning is around a surge of electricity could cause a “power spike” that can damage cell phones, computers, Wi-Fi routers, televisions and other electronic appliances. At the first sign of lightning, it pays to disconnect these appliances.
- Making sure that all windows are closed, and doors are secured.
“One of the surest ways of making sure that your house is weatherproof is to do regular maintenance. Rectifying problems as soon as you notice them, means that the problem won’t get bigger if weather strikes,” says Colman.
“When storms and floods hot an area, damage can occur quickly and dramatically. People should not under any circumstances try to repair damage while a storm is raging. Fixed property and cars can be repaired, not human lives. Caution and self-preservation should be uppermost in everybody’s minds when the weather turns bad,” she advises.
What to do if you’re caught in a storm while driving
“The most dangerous place to be caught in a storm is when you are driving. Country roads and crowded highways are equally dangerous. Roads that are slippery and flooded can spell disaster regardless of traffic loads. If the rain is heavy enough to impede your view of the road because your wipers can’t cope with the volume of water, the best thing to do is to pull up safely on the shoulder, put on your car’s hazards and wait for the squall to pass before proceeding on your journey,” Coleman notes.
If stopping isn’t an option, then consider:
- Slowing down and keeping a wary eye out for potholes that may be filled with water and could cause damage to your car.
- Make your car visible by putting on headlights and running lights. If visibility is almost totally impaired, move over to the slow lane and switch on the hazards.
- Open the following distance between your car and others.
- Avoid driving through flooded roads. Often, these flooded areas are deeper than they look, and your car’s engine could stall, and the vehicle could be swept away.
- If you do find yourself stranded in a stalled car in the water, staying put if the water is low. If it appears to be getting deeper and you can still safely exit the vehicle, do so and seek safe, high ground.
- Looking for a safe exit from the highway and seek sheltered parking.