Western Cape: Prepare properly for storms ahead
A severe winter cold front will affect Cape Town and the South Western Cape from this evening until Thursday morning. Gale force north westerly winds of up to 70-80km/hour will develop tonight and will be coupled with heavy rain. Leading short-term insurer, Santam’s, weather partner Africa Weather, has warned that a second band of heavy persistent rain is also likely to develop during tomorrow afternoon and will follow into the evening, before becoming scattered showers overnight. In the midst of a catastrophic drought, news of the much needed rain is welcome however rain of this magnitude always carries the risk of flooding.
Santam's head of personal lines underwriting, Attie Blaauw says motorists and home owners are advised to take precautions as the risk of flooding may be heightened during periods of drought. Says Blaauw: “During a drought the ground becomes harder and more compact so it is less porous for the water to soak through. Being as prepared as possible will help prevent flooding damaging your property or even decreasing the risk of a flood-related car accident.”
Blaauw says having a short-term insurance policy which covers your risks well in the event of a claim is also critical during times of adverse weather conditions. “Ensure that your home, its contents, as well as your vehicle, is properly insured so that your insurer can pay out your claim.” In tandem with Africa Weather, Santam will issue weather warnings to policyholders who may be affected by the storm. Blaauw offers some tips to motorists and homeowners ahead of the expected big rains this week.
Precautions for motorists:
- Avoid areas and traffic routes where flooding has been reported.
- Monitor local weather and traffic reports and plan your route accordingly so to avoid areas where severe weather (high winds, storm sea surge and potential flooding) can be expected.
- Reduce driving speed in rainy conditions and increase your following distance from the vehicle in front of you.
- Be alert and aware of the road conditions in front of you.
- Be particularly aware of the vehicles around you in times of poor visibility.
- Ensure that your headlights are switched on.
- Obey the rules of the road, especially any temporary signage or hazard warnings around flooding.
- Avoid braking suddenly as this could cause your vehicle to skid or hydroplane.
- Ensure that your windscreen wiper blades and brake pads are in top condition.
Precautions for home owners:
Last-minute measures homeowners can take if water levels rise
- Clear gutters and drains. It is important to clear gutters of leaves, twigs and any other debris regularly which will prevent the build-up of water and reduce potential flooding.
- 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, lift them off the floor.
- Ensure that your home and its contents are adequately insured.
In the event of flooding
- Shut-off electricity at the main distribution board.
- Those using sandbags must ensure that cloth is installed between the layers. The cloth becomes saturated and forms a more water tight insulation in between the bags, thereby not allowing the water through.
Easy renovations to avoid future damage from flood water
- 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 into 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. Ensure that the outflow from the roof gets to the street as quickly as possible.
- Those with large, flat gardens that have attenuation problems 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 a very cost effective method.