A subject which many of us never get around to dealing with is “what happens if disaster strikes?”. Am I prepared for the consequences? This was brought home forcefully to many residents in the Garden Route over the past few weeks. With the tragic loss of life, over 800 homes destroyed and countless others damaged, many people are facing the consequences of not being prepared. Many had to leave their homes with only the clothes they were wearing and a few minutes warning. So what does “be prepared” mean in practice? Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Building insurance. The building cover should be sufficient to cover the cost of demolishing and clearing, building a new building, design fees and project supervision, as well as temporary accommodation
- Contents insurance. Besides the irreplaceable items, all too often people do not allow adequate value for personal and household belongings. Clothing, linen and kitchen utensils cost a lot more to replace that most people think. This also applies to books and CD’s – understand how your policy deals with items which you may not wish to replace. It may be worth asking your insurer to value your contents
- Documentation. In the event of a fire there is no time to consider which documents to take and where to find them. The process of replacing those documents will be laborious and draining. Consider storing scanned copies in a cloud, such as provided by Google, Gmail or your local internet provider
- Irreplaceable items. This is a difficult one. At least store copies of family photos on the same cloud, as well as photos of valuable items and if needed, valuation certificates, so that there is no argument as to their value
- Emergency numbers. Do you have easily available numbers for police, fire brigade, and medical response?
- Safety equipment. Do you have a fire extinguisher, safety blanket and first aid kit where it can be found in seconds?
- Hazardous items, such as gas cylinders. Make sure these are safely stored, and not in the way of a potential escape route. Do you have an escape route?
Of course for most of us this is all an academic exercise, but in support of those who are going to be spending many months rebuilding their lives, let’s take the matter seriously and make sure we are at least better prepared. We wish the communities in the Garden Route the very best in overcoming this tragedy.