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Steps to mitigate damage to vehicles and homes ahead of Gauteng storm

05 December 2017 Christelle Colman, Europ Assistance
Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa

Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa

According to recent weather forecasts, thunderstorms and heavy rain is expected for Gauteng this week. Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa, advises Gauteng residents to conduct comprehensive maintenance checks on their vehicles as well as their homes ahead of the storm.

Colman warns that severe storms can cause enormous damage to houses and cars due to gale force winds, hail or flooding. “By being pro-active and conducting the necessary risk-management, Gauteng residents can lower their risk of damage to their homes and vehicles as a result of extreme weather.” 

She provides a risk-management checklist to mitigate damage to possessions, ahead of the expected storm this week: 

Important vehicle checks for driving in wet conditions: 

Tyre tread:

One of the most important checks motorists can make ahead of the expected storm, is the condition of their motor vehicle’s tyres. A tyre tread shallower than the legal limit of 1mm, or level with the tyre tread depth indicator, significantly increases the likelihood of an accident occurring - especially in wet weather. This could also result in an insurance claim being rejected should the insurer determine that the cause of an accident was a direct result of poor tyre maintenance. 

Visibility factors:

When driving in wet, rainy or misty conditions, good visibility is paramount. Something as simple as replacing worn windscreen wiper blades can drastically reduce the chances of an accident occurring. Good wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Wiper blades that leave streaks or miss spots are worn and need to be replaced.  Car lights should also be in proper working order at all times, and are especially important during the rain season, as it is the only means to increase a vehicle’s visibility on dark roads. Any burnt out or dim light bulbs should be replaced immediately. 

Car battery strength:

One of the most common causes of motor vehicle breakdowns in the rainy season is a weak battery. Motorists should check the strength of the car battery on a regular basis and replace it if necessary in an effort to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned breakdown. 

Brakes:

One of the most important components of a motor vehicle is the functionality of its brakes. Have the brakes checked by a mechanic for any wear and tear to ensure that the vehicle has the best chance of stopping in wet conditions. When a road is wet and slippery, it takes the vehicle longer to come to a complete stop – which is critical in avoiding a potential collision. Motorists should listen for metal-to-metal or squeaking sounds when applying the brakes. If the brakes do make these sounds, they need to be replaced as soon as possible. 

Emergency driver assistance:

South Africans need to ensure that they have emergency driver assistance in place and have emergency numbers on hand in case of an accident or breakdown – especially as rainy weather increases motorists’ chances of incidents. These type of services may already be in place through existing providers (e.g. as a value-added benefit with an insurance policies), or through banks or medical aid – consumers are advised to review their policies or consult their providers. 

Important home maintenance checklist ahead of heavy rains: 

Water supply:

When it comes to preventing water damage, the most important thing all homeowners need to know is the exact location of shut-off valves for the following: the main water supply, appliances that utilise water (e.g. dishwasher, washing machine and icemakers), sinks and toilets. In the event of a leak, the water supply should be shut off immediately.  This will avoid further damage until a plumber can arrive to fix the problem. 

Water pipes:

It is vital to conduct regular inspections along plumbing lines for any leaks, damage or corrosion. The sooner these problems are detected, the sooner the homeowner can contact a licensed plumber for further inspection and repairs to avoid higher costs of damage. 

Walls and floors:

Inspect foundation walls and floors for cracks that might allow water leakage, particularly when living in an older home or an area with poor soil drainage. Also, avoid storing valuable items in a basement; however, if absolutely necessary, items should be stored on racks and shelves above floor level to minimise damage. 

The roof:

The roof is one of the most important parts of a home as it protects the occupants, belongings and the structure of the building. Regularly check the roof for missing, worn or broken roofing materials that can allow water to infiltrate and weaken the roof’s structure. Also, look around for any water spots, standing water or mould. Dampness on ceilings or walls can signal leaks that are just getting started. After a severe storm, inspect the roof thoroughly or contact a licensed roofer for further evaluation and repairs. 

Gutters:

Clean gutters and drain pipes to avoid leaves and other debris from clogging them up and damaging your home’s exterior siding. It is also vital to ensure that water drains away from your house. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool on the roof, resulting in rotting and leaks. Gutters should be checked at least twice a year; the best time to do this is during the transitional seasons of spring and summer. 

Emergency home assistance:

Ensure that you have emergency home assistance in place and have emergency numbers on speed dial in case off an incident at home, such as flooding, or a tree falling on the roof. Home assistance services can add tremendous value during storm periods to homeowners who experience any type of emergency. 

“By being proactive and bearing the above tips and advice in mind, consumers can lower the possibility of damage to their belongings as a result of extreme weather conditions. By having assistance services on speed dial, consumers will also have peace of mind, knowing that they will get the necessary assistance when they are faced with an emergency at home or on the road,” concludes Colman. 

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