It is important to note that droughts affect the functioning and effectiveness of firefighting equipment that relies on water. The lack of water could also cause damage to geysers, swimming pools or other equipment.
This document consists of important preventative actions that you can follow to protect your properties that could be affected by water shortages. These preventative actions are not exhaustive or prescriptive and do not replace any specific conditions that may apply to your policies.
Risk manage your property – especially during the drought!
Automatic sprinkler systems
Does your property have automatic sprinkler systems? If so, it is important to note that they are fed directly from the municipal mains, or where the water tanks or reservoirs are topped-up from the municipal mains, are especially vulnerable. Because of this, we recommend that suitably qualified professionals are contacted to assess the installation and identify any significant gaps that should be addressed. Feel free to contact us should this be a problem in some way.
If you have deluge and mist or spray fire protection systems that are serviced and maintained according to the specifications- We recommend weekly documented testing be done, to make sure that it remains in working condition and we suggest a closed-circuit test, which only uses the water already in the system. This also entails the recording of pressure levels, alarms, water tank levels, pump testing and fuel levels.
Minimise the chance of a fire starting by appointing qualified electricians to inspect electrical installations and to identify and address any areas of concern as fires are often caused by an electrical fault.
Electrical installation issues can easily be identified with infrared thermal scannings- such as loose or deteriorating connections, overloaded circuits and other unseen electrical problems that could lead to electrical fires. This is a valuable and proactive preventative measure for high-risk properties, such as manufacturing properties, warehouses, abattoirs, cold rooms and other buildings constructed with expanded polystyrene panels (EPS).
For the maintenance of electrical infrastructure transformers and high-tension/low-tension switchgear – It’s critical to make sure that these utilities are serviced frequently. An emergency safety Buchholz relay should be installed and silica gel must be replaced when it turns pink.
Limit hot work such as welding, grinding and brazing as far as possible but when necessary involve fire watchmen at the site to oversee activity.
Don’t stack against electrical equipment, such as distribution boards and transformers.
Make sure that industrial boilers or any other water or steam-related pressure vessels do not run dry, to prevent overheating and explosions.
Boilers should be inspected and certified as required by the OHS Act. Documented inspections must be conducted on any emergency fail-safe water level monitoring alarms and trip devices, and pressure regulators must be tested and kept in the required working condition.
Smoking should only be allowed in designated smoking areas with adequate means of putting out the cigarettes, for example, a bucket of sand.
Chimneys in thatch buildings must be fitted with spark arrestors to prevent sparks from falling on the thatch roof.
Fit urns and kettles with an automatic thermostat cut-off mechanism, to make sure that they don’t run dry.
Fit deep-frying equipment in cafeterias and kitchens with an automatic thermostat cut-off mechanism, to make sure that the oil doesn’t overheat and ignite.
In rural areas and sites that are bordering open areas, it is important to maintain proper fire breaks to prevent the fire spreading to or from neighboring properties. A firebreak is an area of at least five meters wide and should be kept free of combustible materials – vegetation must be kept short.
Farmers and owners of smallholdings need to comply with the requirements of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act (Act 101 of 1998). Joining a local fire protection association (FPA) will give access to the required equipment and expertise to comply with the legislation.
Clearing alien vegetation also significantly reduces the fire load.
Professionals must clean kitchen extraction units every six months at least.
Damage to geysers (traditional, solar and heat pumps) is covered if caused by an insured peril. It is important to make sure that only SABS-approved equipment is installed by suitably qualified professionals as this will limit the damage.
When the water supply is shut off for any prolonged period, please:
Electrically isolate the system at the circuit breaker within the electrical distribution board (DB). This will prevent the element from burning out in the event of back siphonage or system drainage.
Cover solar collectors and empty tubes that contain no water as these are prone to damage and degradation, like solar radiance, if not covered.
MINIMISE FIRE DAMAGE
Security personnel must be increasingly vigilant and report any suspicious activities or circumstances immediately.
Install water tanks to collect rainwater provide much-needed fire-water supply to the fire brigade and fire teams.
Decreasing stack heights of material will significantly reduce the fire load in a property and make it easier to contain a fire.
Installing monitored-zone smoke and heat detectors will signal an alarm if a fire breaks out, enabling quicker response from the onsite fire teams and nearest fire brigade. Many burglar alarms systems can be extended to incorporate fire and heat detection.
Larger properties should arm themselves with 50-kilogram wheeled fire extinguishers to increase the firefighting capability substantially.
Make sure your firefighting equipment is placed close to the kitchen or close to plant and machinery, for maximum efficiency.
-Fire blankets are also very effective to extinguish kitchen fires.
MINIMISE WATER DAMAGE OR DAMAGE DUE TO LACK OF WATER
Ensure that your property doesn’t flood when the water is turned back on by making sure taps are closed properly, especially when the water is turned off.
Keep gutters and stormwater drains clean to prevent flooding.
Inform the municipality if public stormwater drains are blocked.
Swimming pools tend to crack if not filled with water, by installing pool covers to limit the rate of evaporation or connecting temporary pipes from gutters to swimming pools to supplement water from intermittent rainfall, you could prevent costly repairs to cracked swimming pools as shortage or lack of water is not covered in most insurance policies.