These crucial tips can save your life in severe rain and flooding

KwaZulu-Natal also currently has a Level 4 warning of disruptive rain issued for the province’s southern parts. Picture: Pexels

KwaZulu-Natal also currently has a Level 4 warning of disruptive rain issued for the province’s southern parts. Picture: Pexels

Published Jun 3, 2024


As heavy rains batter the Eastern Cape, resulting in hundreds of people being displaced and seven dead, South Africa has to swallow the hard pill that floods are now going to be more common due to the climate crisis.

KwaZulu-Natal also currently has a Level 4 warning of disruptive rain issued for the province’s southern parts.

According to the province Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), significant rainfall is forecast from Sunday night to Monday midnight, potentially causing disasters.

Ray Nkonyeni, Umdoni, Umuziwabantu, and Umzumbe Local Municipalities are among those most likely to be affected.

Johanni Jennings, the head of marketing at Auto & General, provided the following practical recommendations for staying safe during severe weather conditions:

General rules to remember

Home maintenance: This includes inspecting structures around your home for weak points, collecting leaves and waste from gutters, securing things that could become lethal missiles, removing dead trees and branches, and ensuring appropriate drainage.

If you reside in a location prone to rain, flood, or wind, it is also a good idea to reinforce important structures.

Vehicle maintenance: Ensure that your vehicle is in excellent condition and will not let you down, even when the typical “high water” approaches.

Weather forecast: Always monitor the weather forecast and be on the lookout for warnings of heavy rain and high winds. Wherever possible, avoid dangerous areas.

Emergency numbers: Make sure you have all emergency numbers, including those for your insurer, saved on your phone or memorised. Make sure your entire family understands what to do and who to call in an emergency.

Alert: If you discover a potential safety danger in a public location owing to poor drainage, cracked structures, landslides, or other causes, notify the authorities right away.

Heavy rain

Secure: Ensure that your outside furniture and accessories are safely stored or securely fastened, as well as that all gates and doors that require locking are locked.

Lightning: Heavy rains are frequently accompanied by lightning. It's better to install surge protection plugs and/or unplug appliances before the storm hits.

Parking: If feasible, park your car under cover and postpone travel until the storm has passed. If you are caught in a severe storm and believe it is unsafe to drive, look for cover, pull over, and/or seek shelter.

This could include a covered parking lot, a petrol station, or under a bridge. Do not park under trees because there is a risk of falling branches and debris.

When pulling over, use extra caution, turn on your warning lights, and don’t put your or others’ safety in danger by racing for cover. Stay in your automobile and only leave the safety of your covered location once the storm passes.

Visibility: Keep in mind that when the temperature drops suddenly during a storm, your car’s windows are more likely to fog up, reducing visibility, so make sure your defogger is working properly.


Flood-prone areas: It is prudent to obtain your own supply of sandbags, particularly if you reside in a flood-prone location. These can be positioned across doorways and low-level vents during flooding to reduce the quantity of water that enters your home.

Electricity: If flooding occurs, turn off the power and gas supplies to reduce the risk of electrical shock or fire.

Warning signs: If you notice warning signals such as water seeping through the door or water eroding your home’s walls and foundations, get to higher ground right away. Don’t wait until it becomes a life-threatening emergency.

Driving: Motorists should avoid driving in flood situations. Remember that even 15cm of flowing water can knock you off your feet, and water merely 60cm deep can sweep a vehicle away.

You can risk flooding your vehicle’s air intake and causing the engine to stall. Generally, if the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, you should not drive through it.

Flash-floods: Flash flooding is common when rivers run across low-lying bridges. Avoid crossing bridges or roads near rivers during heavy rains. If you become trapped on a flooded road, shift to the lowest gear feasible and drive gently.

Safety: If your car becomes trapped during flooding or begins to wash away, leave it and move to higher ground. It is perilous to attempt to drive out of the water to safety.

Night driving: Be on the watch for uprooted trees, branches, and other items on the road, especially at night.

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