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How to flood-proof your home

With the recent floods in Durban, it's time to stop and reflect on how well we are prepared and protected when it comes to harsh weather conditions.
If the recent floods are anything to go by, it seems most homeowners aren’t well equipped to deal with this type of natural disaster, and while it’s impossible to completely flood-proof a home, there are steps one can take to ensure some measure of prevention or protection before the flood waters start to rise again.

1. Look at elevation

Elevation is perhaps one of the most obvious and oldest tricks in the book when it comes to flood proofing your home, however it doesn’t just apply to raising the home itself. As a pre-emptive measure, it’s advisable to elevate high risk items where possible, such as your home’s wiring, switches, circuit breakers and HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) units. Once these items are taken care of, you can also look at storing valuable possessions and documents out of harm’s way by ensuring they are kept on a high-up shelf, or even better, in a wall mounted safe.

2. Relook your landscaping

If elevating your home or household items is not a feasible option, consider how you can use landscaping to protect your home. Including small embankments and trenches into your landscaping can do wonders in keeping any flood water at bay as they can act as channels for water and either prevent water from rushing onto your property or by causing the garden itself to flood thereby protecting your home. Similarly, grading is another great way to stem the tide. A properly graded garden can also act as a water channel and direct water away from your home. Furthermore, thick bushes and shrubs can also be used to slow the spread of flood water as can planting grass, as these act as anchors for the soil and can also prevent damaging mudslides.

3. Add drainage areas to your driveway

Your driveway can quickly become a direct path for flood waters to reach your home which definitely increases the risk of your home flooding. Look at installing a gravel or spaced paver driveway if possible, but if that’s not an option, consider adding drainage next to your current driveway such as channel drains, pavers, or any of the other landscaping solutions mentioned above.

4. Try dry proofing and sealing

If you aren’t able to do too much to alter your home or garden, it may be worthwhile considering doing your best to make the walls of your home watertight. Dry proofing can easily be done with some high-quality sealant or even installing waterproof membranes where possible. Key areas to focus on would be all doors and windows as well as air vents and any entry points for things like your air conditioning units. Most of the time however, the first point of entry for flood water is via your home’s drainage system, especially in areas where drains are close to the ground. Drain plugs are therefore handy to have on standby as a preventative measure.

5. Create temporary flood barriers

If all else fails, placing any kind of temporary barriers around your home could work to divert approaching flood waters while you make contingency plans. Just be sure that whatever you use – be it chairs or table or even things like bricks or stones – are properly anchored and secured to avoid these being swept up and thrust against the side of your house if the water starts to rush.

At the end of the day, there is little we can do when nature throws her all at us. By staying vigilant and taking precautionary measures if any flood-warnings are issued however, protecting your home could be more manageable, and even more successful, in the long run.

Private Property South Africa's press office

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