How homeowners can prepare for natural disasters

Private Property South Africa

The recent rains across most of South Africa have been a major relief. But Cyclone Dineo lashed the eastern parts of the country has reminded us of just how powerful nature can be, and how necessary it is that homeowners are prepared for it.

Natural disasters are a fact of life, and important property considerations. In South Africa, storms arguably pose the greatest risk, although runaway veld fires have been known to threaten the fringes of urban settlements. We are generally spared earthquakes – but not entirely!

There is no substitute for being prepared. The first call is to make sure that your insurance provides suitable covered for damage. It’s a good idea to check on this annually. A chat to an insurance broker is a good idea, particularly when the house has been altered in some way – what impact would a flood or extreme hailstorm do? Will your policy pay for you to redo your devastated garden, or will it only cover the built structure?

Taking precautions to ensure that it doesn’t come to that is equally important. Be systematic in keeping up your maintenance. Water damage, for example, is often the result of blocked gutters, cogged drains or a few lose tiles on the roof – minor problems that would have been dealt with in due course. Also, consider the strength of those small additions that are made from time to time, like a boma or carport. What can they withstand?

Installing protection against power surges or lightning strikes is also a good idea. A bad electrical storm can wipe out your computer or your entire entertainment system.

Keeping track of imminent risks is vital. Knowing that a storm is likely to hit enables you to take precautions. These are often simple, common-sense things: shut the windows, disconnect appliances, secure items that might shift in high winds.

Finally, some provision for worst-case scenarios cannot go amiss. Keep a chest of emergency supplies (bottled water, a torch and batteries, a portable radio, canned food) just in case. We often forget how dependent we are on mass infrastructure that a bad weather event can take out.

Of course, we all hope we’ll never have to deal with this – but if we must, it’s great to know we can weather the storm.

Issued by Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Africa


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