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Are your clients prepared for flooding?

Don’t get swept away by the rising tide of flood risk

The risk of flooding is rising on a global scale. You should assist your clients in reassessing their risk and advise them on reasonable steps they can take to minimise potential damage. Find out why this type of natural disaster is happening more often, and how your clients can keep their property – and policy – watertight. 

Online scientific journal Nature recently published research finding satellite imagery to reveal that the proportion of the global population exposed to flooding is on the increase. In fact, the research showed that the number of people at risk from floods is ten times higher than previously estimated, and that the proportion of the global population exposed to floods increased by 20% to 24% between 2000 and 2015.̽

This increased risk is largely caused by global warming and climate change, and South Africa is not immune to its effects. Torrential rain lashed parts of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal in January this year. 82 people lost their lives, hundreds were displaced, important infrastructure was damaged and destroyed, and 135 properties were damaged in the Chris Hani District Municipality alone.

The risk of flooding in South Africa is not limited to these areas. Late summer rains often cause havoc in Gauteng and other northern provinces, with winter rains regularly flooding areas of the Western Cape and other southern provinces. Even areas along the West Coast, Wild Coast and Central Karoo are prone to flash flooding that could potentially cause waves of destruction.

How can your clients protect themselves, their family and property from a deluge of disaster? Help them to reassess their risk profile and ensure that they have sufficient cover to ‘keep them dry’. Also share these tips on how they can safeguard their property:

  • Clean the gutters – and keep them clean. Gutters and downpipes must allow rainwater to easily drain from the roof. To avoid erosion and, more importantly, to conserve rainwater, install water tanks to collect the flow from downpipes.
  • Check for problem spots in the property. Look for places where water collects or pools when it rains, or where efficient drainage may become an issue. Drains and trenches will carry water away from the home and its foundations.
  • Seal any cracks or burst areas in foundations and basement walls. Have this done professionally to ensure that no water filters through during times of flooding.
  • Flood vents prevent built up water pressure from causing damage by allowing floodwater to flow through an enclosure below the home.
  • A sump pump can direct groundwater away from the home and prevent flooding. Be sure to have a battery backup to keep the pump operating should flooding interrupt the electricity supply.
  • Make use of flood-resistant material in flood-prone areas. Ceramic tile, vinyl or rubber surfaces will help to protect floors, while walls and ceilings can be constructed from cement board, pressure-treated wood or even concrete.
  • Essential equipment should be elevated – both indoors and out. Where important equipment or utilities are stored outside, they should be elevated higher than the base, historical flood line. They should also be securely anchored to avoid any movement, flotation or collapse.
  • Store all important documents safely – a waterproof safe is an ideal option. If possible, don’t store items like books, photographs and specialised electrical equipment on lower levels. In case of a single level home, store such items reasonably high above the ground. Keep important documents and items in an easily accessible spot in case of an emergency.
  • Create an emergency plan.

Many parts of South Africa have been subject to an enduring drought and we celebrate good rainfalls, but even good rainfalls can turn bad. Contact us for assistance in reassessing your clients’ flood risk and to ensure that they have the right cover for their needs.

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̽ accessed 03/02/22