The recent heavy rains have been a blessing in terms of breaking the year-long drought that all but strangled South Africa’s economy. Yet – though crops are healthier and more abundant, and supermarket produce will undoubtedly become cheaper – 2017’s La Niña-strengthened rainy season has also had some unwanted side-effects.
Flash floods, hail damage and near-gale force winds have been dominating news headlines these past three months, noted for their ability to damage and even destroy cars, buildings and houses.
Now, according to Storm Report SA, South Africans may have to brace themselves as another disruptive weather system moves into the country: it’s been forecast that Cyclone Dineo, which has already hit ground in Mozambique, will affect the extreme north-eastern parts of South Africa and the north-eastern parts of KwaZulu-Natal, resulting in heavy rains and flooding in Mpumalanga and Limpopo from this afternoon through Saturday.
While it’s impossible to stop or change the weather, you can certainly secure peace of mind by protecting your belongings as much as possible, or making sure that they will be replaced through adequate insurance if damaged during adverse weather.
Standard Bank Insurance Limited offers advice that may help to keep you and your property safe should you find yourself in the path of the coming force of nature:
- Tune to your local radio or TV for further information and warnings.
- If possible, make sure computers, TVs, decoders and other equipment are disconnected from wall sockets during storms to avoid damage caused by electricity surges caused by lightning strikes.
- Check that roofs do not have broken or loose tiles that will allow the entry of water during heavy downpours.
- Check your property for any loose material and tie down (or fill with water) all large, relatively light items, such as boats and rubbish bins.
- Ensure that roof gutters are clean and unclogged, so water does not accumulate and seep through roof tiles onto ceilings.
- Keep house windows shut to the chance of them being hit by hail or shattered by high winds.
- Ensure household members know which is the strongest part of the house, and what to do in the event of a cyclone warning or an evacuation.
If the storm is particularly violent, you’ll be grateful that you have an emergency kit at the ready. It should include:
- important documents in sealed bags, some cash.
- a torch.
- baby formula and nappies, if needed.
- sturdy gloves.
- fresh water for three days.
- waterproof bags.
- a portable radio.
- three days’ worth of non-perishable food and a can opener.
- spare batteries.
- essential medication.
- a power bank.
For motorists who are caught unawares while driving, the insurance provider suggests the following steps:
- Ensure your vehicles’ fuel tanks are full.
- Avoid being on the road, but if you are, drive slowly and carefully.
- Reduce speed to match the road conditions, and increase following distance to at least a three-car distance.
- Turn headlights on so you can be seen by other vehicles.
- If you can, pull off the road safely and activate your car’s hazard lights as a warning to other motorists.
- Do not park under trees as there is a risk of falling branches and debris.
- Be proactive and ensure that windscreen wipers are always in good condition, so they can cope with sudden downpours.
- Never get out of your vehicle, because of possible injury from hailstones.
- Do not attempt to drive through water washing across the road, or across low-water bridges; your car could stall in the water and it requires only about 15cm of rapidly moving water to wash it away.
If you experience property damage during this week’s expected rainy weather, Denise Shaw, COO for Standard Insurance Limited, advises you to submit your insurance claim as soon as you can:
“As always, we will work to ensure all claims are processed quickly and efficiently,” she says. “Where required, assessors will also be sent to inspect damage and assist with facilitating repairs.”