111112 Several houses in the Eastern Cape holiday town of Cape St Francis were destroyed in a fire last night. “Houses are burning all the way to the sea on the canals,” a fireman told the St Francis Chronicle. The fire apparently started at Royal Wharf, where some people were having a braai. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - First, I need to issue an apology: Two weeks ago I was telling you about my friend the builder, who works such long hours that he always goes home to a cold supper and a sleeping wife.

I have been assured in no uncertain terms that this is not the case. Whatever the time, there is always a hot meal and a friendly welcome, so hopefully this apology will restore peace in that home, and she may one day talk to me again.

I know I have harped on about it time and time again in this column, but hopefully after the fires in St Francis Bay, you’ll now all realise it can happen to you. First, my heartfelt condolences to anyone who lost their home. Seeing the destruction of the buildings does not affect me that much, because I see it all the time in Cape Town, but I do sympathise with the people who have lost irreplaceable memories, photographs, paintings and the like.

You can rebuild the house, but never replace the memories.

So hopefully you have all dived into your files to check your insurance policies.

Remember, it is your responsibility alone to ensure that you are adequately insured, and have the correct cover.

Basically, if it would cost you R5 million to rebuild your house, don’t insure it for the municipal valuation, or what you could sell it for – because you’ll then have insured it only for R3m, and the insurance company will pay you out only R1.8m thanks to the fact that you’re insured only for three-fifths of the replacement costs.

You are going to get what you have paid for.

Having checked that you are insured for the correct amount, read through the fine print and check what else you should have in place. Each company and policy varies. I don’t have the space to get into the specifics, but you do need an electrical compliance certificate or a gas certificate etc, etc.

I have said before that if you are compliant in terms of your policy, no insurance company will argue about your claim.


Having checked your paperwork, you now need to look at the practical side of preventing fires.

Is there a clear space around your property, no rubbish piles against the side of the house, no overhanging trees? The idea is if something externally catches fire, it can’t reach your home.

Do your outside taps work, and is there a hose handy? Do you own a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket?

Do you leave fires burning, whether inside or outside? Have you got 10 items plugged into one plug point with a spaghetti junction of adapters? Do you switch off all your appliances during the day; stand-by mode is not a safe mode, especially when it comes to televisions.


Having read my column for years now, and knowing that Christmas is on its way, I know you’re wondering about what DIY gift to buy your partner.

While letters I receive indicate that it’s women who do the work in at least 90 percent of local households, this isn’t a suggestion that they’ll settle for a new hammer drill in place of perfume.

Don’t buy something you “think” your partner might like, only to see it used once, then left in the garage. And if you’re going to venture into the tool market, really try and go top-of-the-range. One good electric drill, for example, will last 10 times as long as one of those super packages, where you get three tools for the price of one. - Weekend Argus


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