Tips to stay safe this storm and hail season

12 October 2017
Hannes Smith, Head Personal Lines Sales & Operations, at Old Mutual

Hannes Smith, Head Personal Lines Sales & Operations, at Old Mutual

The 2017 summer rain and hail season is now in full swing and it already looks like one of the worst ones in recent times. October has already seen severe flooding and hailstorms in both Johannesburg and Durban, while a confirmed tornado created havoc in the West Rand. These recent weather catastrophes have led to the loss of many lives, multiple injuries, as well as extensive damage to property and infrastructure.

While it is hard to predict the severity or frequency of storms, Hannes Smith, Head Personal Lines Sales & Operations, at Old Mutual Insure says that there are many things people can do to take precautionary measures, to protect themselves and minimise damage to their properties. Smith recommends the below: 

Personal safety first:

  • Human life remains the most important thing – make sure you and your family are safe before you do anything else.
  • Make sure you have emergency contact details on hand.
  • Listen to news and weather alerts to stay abreast of any storm developments.
  • Do not take the risk to travel in a storm; rather wait for it to subside before getting on the road.
  • Stay indoors or seek shelter as soon as you become aware of a possible storm. 

Safety tips during a storm:

  • Whenever possible, avoid driving in hailstorms. If this isn’t possible, drive into an undercover facility or any kind of shelter to limit the damage to your vehicle.
  • Do not take the risk of driving through low water bridges or any large bodies of water.
  • When driving in the rain, increase your following distance by a minimum of three car lengths, decrease your driving speed and turn on your headlights to improve visibility.
  • Move important or valuable personal items away from windows as hailstones can break through and damage these.
  • At the start of a storm, unplug as many electronic devices as possible, such as Wi-Fi routers, cellphone chargers, uninterruptible power suppliers (UPSs) and computers to prevent lightning damage. If possible, switch off the main switch to prevent any potential electricity damage.
  • Make sure that you are stocked up on batteries and other power back-up devices, so that you are able to charge your cell phone if the power goes out. 

Getting ready for the next one 

Smith urges South Africans not to be lulled into a false sense of security and think that these storms have passed. The 2017 storm season is not over. He urges people to use this time to prepare for the next potential storm by: 

  • Doing proper maintenance on properties such as cleaning leaves and other debris from gutters to prevent potential damage to homes from flooding.
  • Fixing damages to property as soon as possible, to avoid being exposed to the next catastrophe.
  • Speaking to a broker to ensure adequate insurance cover. 

Smith concluded: “Houses and cars are replaceable assets. Your life and the lives of your family are irreplaceable. Therefore we urge all people to put their own safety first, let insurers like ourselves worry about replacing your damaged assets.”  


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