Here’s how to prepare yourself for Cape Town’s ‘monster storm’​

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South Africans have been inundated with tips on how to save water, followed by warnings of what will happen should we not comply.

Now, it’s caution of a different kind headed our way, as experts warn Capetonians should be geared up for a significant winter storm this week.

Heavy rain and strong winds are expected in the western part of the country from Tuesday night through to late afternoon on Wednesday.

Consumers need to conduct appropriate maintenance checks to ensure their vehicles are in a roadworthy condition, as well as conduct comprehensive maintenance repairs and checks to relevant areas of their homes, says Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa.

“By being proactive and conducting the necessary risk management South Africans can lower their risk damage to their homes and vehicles caused by extreme weather.”

Christelle Colman provides tips on how to ensure your possessions are kept in good condition during this week's rainstorm. Photo: Supplied

Christelle Colman provides tips on how to ensure your possessions are kept safe during this week’s rainstorm. Photo: Supplied

Christelle has provided a risk-management checklist for those who won’t be throwing caution to the upcoming gusts of wind. Here’s how you can mitigate damage to your possessions ahead of the expected rainstorm:

Important vehicle checks for driving in wet conditions:

Tyre tread

One of the most important checks motorists can make this winter is to the condition of their motor vehicle’s tyres. A tyre tread below the legal limit of 1 mm, 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. Car lights should also be in proper working order at all times, but the lights are especially important during winter months as they’re the only means to increase a vehicle’s visibility on dark, wet roads.

Car battery strength

One of the most common causes of motor vehicle breakdowns in winter is a weak battery. Due to the colder weather conditions a vehicle’s engine requires more battery power to start up. Motorists should check the strength of their car battery on a regular basis and replace it if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned breakdown.

Brakes

One of the most important components of a motor vehicle is its brakes. Have brakes checked by a motor mechanic for any wear and tear to ensure the vehicle has the best chance of stopping in wet or icy conditions. Motorists should listen out for any metal-to-metal or squeaking sounds when applying the brakes and if brakes do make these sounds they need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Emergency driver assistance

South Africans need to ensure they have emergency driver assistance in place and have emergency numbers on hand in case of an accident or breakdown. These types of services may already be in place through existing providers (eg as a value-added benefit with insurance policies) or through banks or medical aid – so consumers are advised to review their policies or consult their providers.

Read more: City urges residents to store emergency water

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 use water (eg dishwashers, washing machines and icemakers), sinks and toilets. This will ensure that in the event of a leak the water supply can be quickly shut off before it causes further damage and a plumber can arrive to fix the problem.

Water pipes

It’s 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 repairs to avoid further 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.

Read more: Cape Town water supplies will last until August – city official

The roof

A home’s roof is one of the most important parts of the home as it protects the occupants and belongings from the elements, 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. After a severe storm, inspect the roof thoroughly or contact a licensed roofer for further evaluation and repairs.

Gutters

Clean gutters and drainpipes to avoid leaves and other debris from clogging them up and damaging your eaves. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool on the roof which is likely to result in rotting, leaks and possible damp. Gutters should be checked at least twice a year; the best time to do so is during the transitional seasons of spring and autumn.

Emergency home assistance

Ensure you have emergency home assistance in place and have these emergency numbers on speed dial in case of an incident at home, like flooding or a tree having fallen on the roof. During storm periods the use of home-assistance services can be of tremendous benefit to homeowners should they experience any type of emergency.