Prevent damage caused by flooding around the home

Personal Lines

Prevent damage caused by flooding around the home

Published: 15 September 2016

It is well-documented that large parts of South Africa’s urban environment do not have enough areas that allow water to soak into the ground. During heavy downpours, water tends to pool and often head off in the direction of least resistance as a result of hard surfaces like paved driveways and pavements.

Says Attie Blaauw, head of personal lines underwriting at Santam: “Most walled homes with poor drainage face problems with water build-up which can often compromise foundations. This in turn, can cause residential walls to sag and in extreme cases, collapse. Collapsed walls could cause further damage to your property, vehicles or even people.”

Over the course of the past three days, Santam’s claims department has received a significant influx of claims. Most of the claims relate to water damage at residential and business properties as well as damage to vehicles as a result of flooding. Santam’s claims and assessor teams are drawing on both internal and external resources and mobilising them to assist clients in the affected areas.

What can homeowners do to manage and possibly minimise damage?

  • Clear gutters and drains. If your home is on a slope, make sure that the water outflow is unrestricted. Speak to your neighbour if water has to pass through their yard;
  • Move furniture, electronic equipment and valuables out of harm’s way or possibly lift them off the floor;
  • Shut off electricity at the main distribution board;
  • If you’re using sandbags, ensure that cloth is installed between the layers. The cloth becomes saturated and forms a plug in between the bags thereby not allowing the water through.

Renovations that could be done to avoid future damage from flood waters

  • Make sure that the electrical points, plugs, fixed heaters and even wiring are at least 300mm above expected flood levels.
  • The slope of your property can direct water to or from your house. Observe where the water accumulates and flows. Where possible place drainage grids at the catchment points with better and deeper drainage ports. Make sure that the outflow from the roof gets to the street as quickly as possible.
  • Those with large flat gardens that don’t direct or drain water adequately can install a perforated 110mm pipe. The pipe must be seated into a bed of gravel and this can be buried 350-450 mm below the worst areas. This allows easy absorption and is very cost effective.

Homeowners are encouraged to assess the measures in place to protect their properties and can speak to their insurer to assist.

For more tips on preventing damage to your home or vehicle visit the Santam blog.