Heavy rain, gale force winds and low temperatures are expected this week as South Africa is set to experience a significant winter storm.

And while this storm may mark the unofficial start of winter, during which storms and heavy rainfall occur regularly, it is important to remember that keeping yourself warm and dry are not the only precautions you should be taking.

According to Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa, severe storms can cause enormous damage to houses and cars due to gale force winds, hail or flooding.

Featured in a recent article on South African property news site, Property Wheel, Colman said: “By being pro-active and conducting the necessary risk-management, South Africans can lower their risk of facing damage to their homes and vehicles caused by extreme weather.

The article offers the following important maintenance check list ahead of the heavy rains:

Water supply

When it comes to preventing water damage, the most important thing all home owners 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 ice makers), 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 before 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 the floor level to minimise damage.

The roof

A home’s roof is one of the most important parts of the 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 exterior siding. It is also vital to ensure that the water is draining away from your house. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool on the roof, which will result in rotting and leaks. Gutters should be checked at least twice a year; the best time to do so is during the transitional seasons of spring and summer.

Emergency home assistance

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

Being pro-active and taking the necessary measures to keep your home, car and your family safe will lower the possibility of damage caused by extreme weather.

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