UAE weather: How to keep your home safe and secure in a storm

Tips on what you need to know as heavy rain, thunder and lightning are forecast for Thursday

Green Community resident Gary Benger was among Dubai householders whose homes were flooded during last month's deluge. Antonie Robertson / The National
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More rainfall is expected across the UAE, with meteorologists predicting a moderate to strong storm on Thursday.

Despite the bad weather being forecast as much less severe than what the country experienced on April 16, experts agree that being prepared could make all the difference when it comes to protecting your property and reducing the damage caused by extreme weather.

Here, The National spoke to experts about what you can do to ensure that any damage is kept to a minimum.

What should you do if...

Water is coming through your doors or windows: “You need to towel up,” said Paul Haddow, managing director of maintenance firm Expat AC.

“You need to be prepared with spare towels to be able to replace them when they get sodden.”

Water starts to drip through your ceiling: “You need to look for a local access panel in the ceiling. This is a square panel that you'll find in every bathroom and kitchen,” said Mr Haddow.

“If you open it up you'll be able to allow the water to fall out on its own rather than sitting there until it potentially brings the whole ceiling down.”

Water is running out of an electrical box or outlet: “If you notice any sort of crackling noises from power outlets or you notice any water in or around electrical items, then the best thing to do would be to go to your main distribution board,” he said.

“There'll be a label marked 'main incomer'. Just turn it off, it could stop a potential fire.”

Your driveway is flooded and you are worried about your car: “Try to park your car as high as you can because driveways can get waterlogged,” said Mr Haddow.

“Even if you're at home and notice a gradient outside on the pathway, point it up the gradient [when parking].”

Your drains begin to overflow: “For a floor drain on the balcony, if you have a household plunger at home that you would use to unlock a toilet, you can stick that over the top of it,” he said.

“If you don't have that, then go through the grating of the drain. You can simply use a household item to poke down it to dislodge anything that may be blocking it up.”

Regular maintenance

“To ensure people’s homes are protected from any rain moving forward, regular home maintenance is crucial,” said Russ Wilson, head of home maintenance at property firm Allsopp and Allsopp.

“Everything from wiring, plumbing and foundational maintenance is necessary.

“We also suggest checking drains, especially balcony drains to ensure they are cleared out and won’t clog, along with sealing their doors and windows in advance.”

Common mistakes

Complacency is the main culprit when it comes to why homeowners and residents do not take every possible step to protect their homes, Mr Wilson said.

“Dubai does not see this weather often, and we notice that many people tend to overlook regular maintenance checks simply because this type of weather is not common.”

“Inevitably, this leads to further damage during heavy rains.”

Experts said last month's floods should serve as a reminder of the importance of taking out home insurance.

The number of people in the UAE with cover was “shockingly low”, with less than 15 per cent of residents taking out a policy, they said.

Effects of last month's storms and flooding were so severe that Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, directed all residential management companies and real estate developers to offer a series of services at no additional charge to all Dubai residents in need.

“The main mistake we see from customers is avoiding a ‘large’ quotation for the correct application of waterproofing flat roof surfaces, and either paying for a cheap fix or simply not getting it done at all,” said Thomas Speed, general manager of Breathe Maintenance.

“After the recent rain this year, we urge all customers to seek a top quality waterproofing company using the correct materials, and commit to paying a higher price in order to have it done once – limiting the amount of water damage that may come through from the first and second floor levels within properties.”

Is damage inevitable?

“In short, yes,” Mr Speed said.

“The UAE is making attempts to change the main drainage system throughout the country.

“Unfortunately, this will take a large amount of time to plan and complete so, for the short term, protecting your home from the rains is the priority as this ultimately will happen again.”

Sharjah businesses damaged during heavy rain – in pictures

Updated: May 01, 2024, 3:21 PM