Winter in Cape Town can be hazardous: Here’s how to take action and contribute

Winter in Cape Town is known to be a chilly and wet affair. For those who are not prepared, the months of June and July can be brutal in the Western Cape. Heavy rains may bring flooding and water damage, while fewer hours of daily sunlight and colder temperatures each have a variety of knock-on effects, including increases in crime, accidents, property damage and costly energy use. 

Woodstock exchange, dark clouds, Devils Peak, Cape Town

WID, the City of Cape Town and Provincial Government are all taking action to reduce repercussions as far as possible in various winter preparedness programmes.

Says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport:

Cape Town has wet winters and we are doing all we can to prevent flooding of our streets and roads, however, we cannot do it on our own. Preparation for winter is a shared responsibility between the City of Cape Town and residents. Thus, we implore our residents to work with us by making sure that their gutters are cleaned, trees are pruned and that there are no obstructions in waterways around the home that could result in flooding or water damage.

– Alderman Felicity Purchase

From the WID management team, here are some ways you and your staff can assist in winter preparedness:

Winter-readiness action list

  • Clear clutter from your gutter including leaves and branches, and ensure they are in working order.
  • In winter it gets dark much earlier and light later in the morning, with the sun setting closer to 5.30 pm in the middle of winter, and sunrise at 8 am. Outdoor lighting that is working properly and waterproof is a proven measure to improve safety and reduce crime. If your lights are on timers, consider setting these accordingly, otherwise light-sensitive “dusk to dawn” bulbs are a great way to save energy while optimising security lighting and ensuring it’s always on when it’s dark.
  • Trim trees of excess branches especially those that may break in a storm and cause further damage.
  • Doormats, anti-slip floor coatings and slip grips on stairs can all help to avoid slipping and tripping in wet weather.
  • Clean security cameras regularly to ensure they are effective even in bad weather.
  • Keep vehicles roadworthy including ensuring all car lights are working and that windscreen wipers and tyres are in good condition. Check those wipers before it starts to rain to avoid a dangerous situation on the road.
  • Wearing bright or reflective clothing if one is a regular pedestrian or on-street worker can help to prevent avoidable road accidents when visibility is poor.

Road damage

Road damage, potholes and blocked storm water drains also increase in times of heavy rains, and the City of Cape Town encourages residents to report these via the following channels:

  • Phone the Transport Information Centre on 080 065 6463. This is a 24/7 information centre;
  • Send an email to Transport.Info@capetown.gov.za; or
  • Call the City’s Call Centre on 0860 103 089 to report flooding, blocked drains and service disruptions.

“We welcome these calls because in doing so, residents help us to be aware of urgent repairs,” says Alderman Purchase. “Residents are reminded to include their name, contact number and the exact location, area and street name, as well as to reference a landmark if possible. These details help us deliver services efficiently, and promptly.”

Streetlights

It is proven that there is a direct correlation between increased lighting and reduced crime. If you notice a street light that is out, you can log a City Service Request quickly and easily, from the City’s website.⁠

WID checks these logs every night, while also adding our own noted incidents to these reports, and we follow up daily to ensure The City is responding effectively to our maintenance needs.⁠

Help keep our lights on!⁠ Log a request:

Emergencies such as flooding and fires

“We will also provide ongoing education and awareness programmes around flood and fire awareness, which includes practical tips on how to raise floor levels, divert flood waters and reduce the health hazards associated with stagnant water,” said Alderman Purchase.

In Winter, there is an increase in fires in informal settlements in the City and beyond.

In case of emergencies, residents can contact the Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.

For practical tips on how to prepare for or deal with flooding, visit the Western Cape Government’s website.

Winter and homelessness

For those less fortunate living on the street, winter can be a difficult time – particularly as shelters reach capacity in the cold and wet months, and even more so this year with Covid restrictions in place. The City of Cape Town has embarked on a programme designed to assist those organisations facilitating those in need. Their Winter Readiness Programme rolls out over June to September. 

If you or your business would also like to offer support to organisations doing good work in Cape Town, read our blog, Give responsibly: Cape Town non-profit organisations you can support in 2021. You can also donate clothing and other items to U-Turn, or donate money via Snapscan to the City’s Give Dignity campaign, which helps people meet basic needs, including a hot meal and a bed in a shelter. 

“Your contribution will go to an NGO working in the community that has been vetted by the City,” says the City of Cape Town.

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