How to protect your home from storm damage

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Severe storms like the ones that struck this week are likely to become more frequent. Here’s how you can protect your home from future storms.

Anyone who has been caught up in the storms that have been lashing the country recently are fully aware of the damage that can be unleashed when Mother Nature loses her temper.

Climate change is thought to have wrought havoc on weather patterns globally and unfortunately, scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events are going to become more frequent, thanks to the rise in the average global temperature. In other words, storms are going to become fiercer and cause more damage.

Heart-breaking pictures of the storms that recently hit Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal bear testimony to the dangers involved and although there may well be times when nothing can be done to stop the ensuing destruction, there are guidelines to ensure that your home fares better when bad weather hits.

  • Inspect the roof regularly and replace broken tiles and repair loose fascia boards. Repair roof leaks as soon as they become apparent, as these could cause major damage if the weather turns really bad. According to experts, a brand-new roof should be able to stand up to the elements, however a roof that is five to ten years old should be inspected regularly. Roofs that are over 15 years old are at particular risk and should be inspected frequently even if there are no apparent problems.

  • Trim trees on the property regularly, paying particular attention to branches that could cause damage to your home during a storm. Regularly remove dead branches. Check the condition of all trees in the garden and remove those that are at risk of being uprooted in strong winds.

  • Pack away or secure any loose items stored outdoors before a storm hits. High winds can turn the most unexpected things into projectiles which might not just damage your property, but could also cause injury. Pay particular attention to items such as outdoor furniture, braais, braai grills, playground items as well as plastic tables and chairs.

  • Check all the gutters and ensure they aren’t loose or clogged with moss or leaves. Make sure they are firmly fixed to the home because strong winds can tear gutters loose and cause significant damage.

  • Identify areas that are prone to flooding on the property and call in experts such as plumbers or landscapers to advise on how best to alleviate the problem. Chat to neighbours if water is being diverted from their property to yours during a downpour. Get legal advice if the neighbour refuses to address the problem.

Check your insurance policies and update these if necessary to ensure that you will be properly covered in the event of storm damage. Make sure you comply with the terms and conditions of your policy. Insurance companies could reject a claim if its found that the homeowner hasn’t maintained the home to the required standard. A prime example of this is when water damage occurs due to blocked gutters or the required surge protection hasn’t been installed and electrical goods are damaged during a lightning strike.

“One of the things that homeowners must remember is that an insurance assessor will note the overall condition of the insured property,”says Mervin Curnow, director Curnow Insurance Brokers. “Unfortunately, there are homeowners who attempt to use insurance claims to rectify issues not related to storm damage. Homeowners could run into problems if it was found that they were fraudulently trying to claim or if the assessor found that a lack of maintenance led to the damage.”

Don’t take any chances and don’t assume your property will weather a severe storm. Inclement weather often happens without warning and taking the necessary precautions beforehand could make all the difference. Even when warnings are circulated, there’s often not enough time to effectively deal with the ensuing problems. However, ensuring your home is adequately maintained will go a long way in helping to keep your home and family safe.

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