Business owners throughout South Africa are being advised to protect their properties ahead of yet another winter front expected to arrive, bringing with it cold to very cold conditions rain, and snow to many parts of the country.
The South African Weather service has warned of more adverse winter weather just a week after snow and floods closed several roads, damaged residential properties, and stranded people country wide.
The winter chill and subsequent storms can also have an adverse affect on commercial properties as the likelihood of flood and fires are on the increase.
“Damages to businesses can be in a number of forms, from loss of data, to structural damage to worse,” says Lourens Joubert, head of commercial lines at Santam, South Africa’s largest short term insurer. “The onus is on the employer to ensure a safe work environment and also to keep employees aware of ways to mitigate damage through each season.”
To decrease the potential for damage during the cold winter months, Joubert believes that prevention is better than cure, not only during office hours, but also before closing up before the weekend.
Santam offers the following tips to help keep businesses safe in the winter months:
- Most electrical fires can be prevented by following a few commonsense tips. Avoid overloading power points or altering the structure of the plugs on existing appliances to make them fit.
- Fuses may be easy to replace but if a fuse blows or the circuit trips repeatedly the cause may need to be investigated. If the fuse is replaced, ensure the replacement fuse is of the correct amperage.
- Faulty appliances, broken plugs, and exposed cords can cause an electrical fire and should be replaced immediately.
- Extension cords should be used in moderation and monitored so as not to pose a tripping hazard. Cords should either be removed from a thoroughfare or taped to prevent accidental trips and falls. If an extension cord is warm to the touch it means it is of too low amperage for the appliances attached to it. Check the amperage of these appliances and make sure your extension cord is correct for the amperage loading.
- Nominate one person to check the office for heating equipment that may have been left on. Make sure heating appliances are at least a metre away from combustible materials such as curtains or plastic containers.
- Avoid keeping piles of combustible materials, such as papers or newspapers, lying around and keep a fire extinguisher close at hand. Not only is this a fire hazard itself, it will fuel a fire that has already started.
- In January last year, damage to homes, property and vehicles caused by flooding ran well into the multi-million rand mark, affecting many insured South Africans.
- Get into the habit of backing up important computer data and keep electrical equipment and computers/servers on a higher level if there is a likelihood of regional flooding.
- Most external doors have a gap found at the bottom. Make sure to install a metal and rubber flap at the bottom to shield your business from water seeping in during heavy storms as this could weaken the foundation of your floors, wall and door
“Accidents can occur at anytime of the year, so it is important to be prepared for likely emergencies. Keep important phone numbers and documents handy, and back up data. Speak to your broker at least once a year to ensure that your assets are covered and you are not underinsured,” concludes Joubert.
Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/2012/08/business-in-south-africa/