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.

  1. Check your building/homeowner’s policy. Not all policies automatically increase. You may be significantly underinsured as I discovered we were.
  2. 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.
  3. Update your contents insurance.
  4. Consider keeping your passports and jewellery in a fireproof safe.
  5. Keep a copy of photos and important documents with family, friends or in the cloud.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Know where nearest fire hydrant is – the fire department lost 5 minutes searching for it.
  9. Know the number for the fire department: 10177.
  10. 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.


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