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UAE rains: How can residents stay safe?

As the UAE braces for another round of rains, here’s how you can prepare your home to minimise damage

UAE rains: How can residents stay safe?

On April 16, 2024, the UAE witnessed its heaviest rainfall on record since 1949 in a single day. The downpour caused flooding across the country, disrupting life for many. While most properties and communities were able to withstand the deluge, others have experienced water ingress of varying degrees, with some facing the devastation of their homes and communities being underwater and without utilities. Neighbouring Oman also bore the brunt of torrential rains as a result of the storm that hit the Arabian Gulf.

Now, the UAE government has once again raised the alert level ahead of this week’s expected heavy rainfall as the country prepares for another period of bad weather. The National Centre for Meteorology announced that the rainfall from the evening of Wednesday, May 1 until Friday, May 3 will be “less severe” than April’s historic record-breaking rainfall. Additionally, strong winds are expected to impact the east coast, with speeds reaching up to 40kmph.

How can we prepare for such events?

Heavy rains are an unusual feature for such countries and can cause significant disruptions in relatively little time. While weather warnings are issued and people are advised to stay home to avoid disruption, the damage caused can be extensive, in and out of homes. To mitigate this as much as possible, tenants and owners can take some steps:

Monitor and fix issues beforehand

As a first step, it is advisable for those affected to assess the degree of damage and understand the remedial work to be undertaken on their property. This must be done in a safe manner being mindful of the dangers of flood water.

The Dubai Land Department has directed all property management companies and developers to provide a range of services for those affected, free of charge. For recently completed freehold properties, there is a 10-year structural guarantee in place, which should help cover the repair costs.

It is always helpful to be aware of any problem areas in your property that can cause water, dust, etc. to accumulate, such as misaligned windows, missing insulation at balcony doors, or minor surface cracks. The property manager or landlord must be informed, and these must be rectified by the maintenance team.

Avail home contents insurance

While the physical structure of a house or building might be insured against damages due to weather events, the contents of a home are often overlooked. Losing or damaging belongings can lead to significant out-of-pocket expenses and also cause emotional strain.

It is crucial to purchase a home contents insurance policy and review the fine print in detail to understand all the claim conditions.

Keep a checklist of these activities

While it is unlikely that an event of this magnitude will be repeated, we are seeing increased rainfall, and it is prudent to be prepared. Villa and townhouse communities, basements, and ground floors of apartment buildings are particularly at risk of waterlogging and flooding.

First and foremost, drains and gutters should be kept unobstructed to ensure a proper outlet for water. To prevent water from flowing into the property, occupants can keep sandbags or other removable flood barriers in convenient storage areas for use at gates and doors, if and when required.

Any heavy objects, such as outdoor furniture or décor, which can tip over due to strong winds must be moved indoors, especially if no one is home. Another aspect to consider to prevent diseases is ensuring fumigation services are conducted, deep cleaning of affected areas is undertaken, flood water is not consumed, and water supplies are tested for safe consumption and treated if needed. Lastly, the electric supply must be switched off if water reaches any electrical system or outlet.