10 Tips following a Fiery Incident
One of our Chartered Financial Planners had the unfortunate experience of witnessing her neighbour’s home being gutted by an accidental fire. In the interests of our clients’ safety – both physically and financially – she shares 10 useful tips she has learned from this incident.
- Check your building/homeowner’s policy. Not all policies automatically increase. You may be significantly underinsured as I discovered we were.
- Our neighbour and her daughters were left with only the clothes they were wearing at the time of the fire. They had to buy toiletries and clothes, just as a start, the day after the fire. Have access to emergency fund.
- Update your contents insurance.
- Consider keeping your passports and jewellery in a fireproof safe.
- Keep a copy of photos and important documents with family, friends or in the cloud.
- Check you have a Certificate of Conformity for all gas installations. If your home is damaged or destroyed as a result of a defective gas appliance – and you do not have a valid certificate issued by someone registered with LPGAS – the insurance implications could be significant. An insurance company would be well within their rights to repudiate a claim, which could have severe financial repercussions for the home-owner.
- Have your neighbours’ phone numbers on hand. In our case, the neighbour was out and we were unable to contact her to access her property and assist her.
- Know where nearest fire hydrant is – the fire department lost 5 minutes searching for it.
- Know the number for the fire department: 10177.
- Don’t leave your pets indoors without an exit point.
On a more positive note, I have been amazed at the generosity of the community. As happens in many areas in Johannesburg, we have no relationship with our neighbours; in fact, we wouldn’t recognise them while out shopping.
On the night of the fire, however, the community rallied to help. An 8-year old, observing all the neighbours in the street helping each other, said that it felt like a big family. The home owner commented on Facebook: I feel privileged to live in and be a part of this incredible community.
I am reminded of the incredible country in which we live. South African are amazingly kind and generous.