In the wake of the recent heavy rains that swept across Cape Town, our city witnessed widespread flooding that has left many residents dealing with its aftermath. This week, we have seen a surge in insurance claims related to flood damage, underlining the urgency of taking precautions to safeguard both your property and personal well-being during such events. To help you navigate these challenging times, we’ve compiled a list of essential steps and tips to ensure your safety and minimize the impact of flooding.

How to protect your house

  • Clear gutters of debris frequently to ensure less chance of overflow, which could lead to water push-backs and potential internal water damage.
  • Inspect the roof regularly and be vigilant about maintaining it.
  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to prevent branches or debris damaging your home.
  • Secure outdoor furniture or move it under cover.
  • Ensure your home and household contents are insured for the correct replacement value.
  • If your home is on a slope, make sure the water outflow is unrestricted. Speak to your neighbours if water has to pass through their yard.
  • Move furniture, electronic equipment and valuables out of harm’s way; lift them off the floor.

In the event of flooding

  • Shut off electricity at the main distribution board.
  • Those using sandbags must ensure cloth is inserted between the layers. The cloth becomes saturated and forms a more watertight insulation in between the bags, thereby not allowing the water through.

Practical steps to avoid future damage from flood water

  • Make sure the electrical points, plugs, fixed heaters and even wiring are at least 300 mm 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 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 110 mm pipe. The pipe must be seated into a bed of gravel, which can be buried 350-450 mm below the worst areas. This allows easy absorption and is a very cost-effective method.

Practical steps to avoid future damage from flood water

  • Avoid areas and traffic routes where flooding has been reported.
  • Monitor local weather and traffic reports and plan your route accordingly 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 your headlights are switched on.
  • Obey the rules of the road, especially any temporary signage or hazard warnings about flooding.
  • Avoid braking suddenly as this could cause your vehicle to skid or hydroplane.
  • Ensure your windscreen wiper blades, and brake pads are in top condition.
  • Ensure your car is insured for the correct value and that your policy will cover flood damage.

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