Our beautiful country is known for its mighty storms … often a majestic display of nature’s power, but also bringing with it the risk of quickly escalating into a full-blown disaster.
‘The reality is that many storm-related losses could be prevented through better awareness, good planning and smart, prompt reaction,’ added Dialdirect Insurance’s Bianca de Beer.
Follow Dialdirect’s tips to stay safe in adverse weather conditions:
General rules to remember:
- Regular home maintenance: Checking structures around your house for weak spots, clearing debris from gutters, fastening items that could become deadly projectiles, cutting away dead trees and branches and ensuring adequate drainage, is essential and will significantly reduce your risk.
- Good vehicle maintenance: Make sure that your vehicle is in tiptop shape and won’t let you down, even when the proverbial ‘high water’ comes.
- Eye on the weather: Always keep an eye on the weather forecast and look out for warnings of heavy rains and high winds. Avoid danger areas where possible.
- SOS on speed dial: Make sure to have all emergency numbers, including that if your insurer, saved on your phone or memorised. Make sure that your whole family is thoroughly briefed on what to do and who to call in an emergency.
- Raise the alarm: If you notice a possible safety hazard due to bad drainage, cracking structures, landslides etc., in a public area, alert the authorities immediately.
- Standing firm: Make sure that your outdoor furniture and accessories are safely stored or firmly secured and that all gates and doors that need to be locked, are.
- Beware the bolt: Heavy rains are often associated with lightning. It’s best to have surge protection plugs in place and/ or to unplug appliances before the storm arrives.
- Undercover: Where possible, park your car undercover and delay travelling until the storm has subsided. If you are caught in a heavy storm and you feel it’s not safe to drive, look for cover, pull over and/ or seek shelter. Don’t park under trees as there is a danger of falling branches and debris.
- Sand savvy: It is sensible to purchase your own supply of sandbags, especially if you live in a flood-prone area. These can be placed against doorways and low-level vents in times of flooding to help minimise the amount of water that enters your home.
- High value, higher up: Move high-value items to the highest possible floor or shelf if a flood threatens.
- Flip the switch: Turn off electricity and gas supplies if flooding occurs to limit the risk of electrical shock or fire.
- Make the call NOW: If you see warning signs like water seeping through the door or water eating away at your home’s walls and foundations, it’s best to head for higher ground immediately. Do not wait for it to become a life-threatening crisis.
- Cars don’t swim: Do not attempt to drive in flood conditions. Remember that just 15cm of moving water can knock you off your feet and water just 60cm deep can sweep a vehicle away. You also run the risk of flooding your vehicle’s air intake, which will stall the engine. Generally, if the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, it is not advisable to drive through it.
- High alert for low-lying spots: Flash flooding often occurs when rivers flow over low-lying bridges. Avoid crossing bridges or roads next to rivers during heavy rains. If you do get stuck on a flooded road, switch to the lowest possible gear and proceed slowly.
- Easy does it: If you approach a flooded spot at speed, it is advisable to take your foot off the accelerator and let your speed drop gradually. Never use the brakes suddenly because this may cause the car to skid or aquaplane.
- Bailout: If your vehicle gets stuck during flooding, or starts to get washed away, rather abandon the vehicle and get to higher ground. It is dangerous to try and drive out of the water to safety.