As South Africans, we live in ever uncertain times where hardly a day goes by without a report of some tragic incident. Often these incidents and crimes are simply down to bad luck – wrong time, wrong place – and very little could have been done to avoid being a victim. Or could they?

Reducing risk on the road

For example: being involved on a car smash when an oncoming car or taxi is overtaking a large truck on a blind rise. It’s hard imagine that there is anything that could be done to mitigate this – the other driver is totally at fault, right? Well yes and no. Perhaps by adopting a defensive or even courteous attitude to your driving style you could be substantially reducing risk. You could have noticed that a truck was causing a tailback and steered your vehicle over to the yellow lane just in case an oncoming car tried to push through. Not to avoid this as a singular event, but perhaps if you always adopted this kind of defensive (and cautious) driving style, you would be lowering your risk.Is is after all totally legal to travel in the yellow lane on South African highways during daylight hours.

It’s a mind-set change and it’s all part of mitigating risk in your life.

Sticking with cars (traveling in cars is inherently risky) – you might argue that a typical smash and grab situation is unavoidable. Slow moving or stationary traffic – you’re a sitting duck. However, if you travel through hot spot areas frequently, why not consider the following:
A) don’t leave your bag on the car seat – stow it in the boot or low down under the seat.
B) have smash and grab film installed on your windows (cheap – It costs under R1500).
You will in all likely hood never get your window smashed as the thief will see the tints and will avoid your car. Claiming from insurance is going to cost you an excess claim of at least ±R2000 anyway. Just replacing the windscreen is probably going to cost you more too.  It’s a really great solution.

You’ve just mitigated risk!

Reducing risk at home

It is often the case that we are victims of crime at home, it’s a sad reality of living and being South African. We are at our most relaxed and carefree when we are at home and therefore it is then that we are most vulnerable. Often the poorer areas see the higher incidents of crime, which is an obvious statement – but relevant. Poorer areas often always have higher levels of unemployment and problematic social issues such as gangsterism and drugs.

It might seem like an impossibly expensive undertaking to upgrade your home security to a level where you feel like you can sleep with the windows open, but the benefits of spending on home security far outweigh the initial cost of installation.

For example, a simple perimeter system, sometimes called “beams” means that you have your entrances and windows protected from a “wall jumper”. Most modern alarms allow for a few stages of security – a Stay Function for when you are at home, but will not be using certain exits. You could activate the Front and Side beams of your property and still swim and relax in the back yard. A disturbance in the beams would set off an audible beeping tone – not the full alarm – which means you could investigate the reason.

TOP TIP: Make sure you alarm has one of those very bright blue lights installed and is showing towards the road. This way, when you are home in the day and your alarm is set to Stay, the blue light is on and acts as a further deterrent.

The Sleep Function would activate the beams around the whole house and once disturbed, the alarm goes off – frightening the intruder and alerting you.

This is a reliable and fairly inexpensive way of mitigating risk at home. Of course, if you live in a very high risk area of you could also go for an electric fence and even an automated garage door – which should reduce not only risk, but bring the cost of your monthly insurance premiums down.
And really, automated garage door openers are cheap – and who doesn’t enjoy the convenience!

Some insurance providers might insist that you are signed up with an Armed Response unit (ADT, Chubb, Coin) before giving you the benefit of a cheaper insurance – please be sure to ask your insurer about this specifically.

Really the most important thing to remember is don’t take unnecessary chances, try limit your exposure. If you are just popping down to the shop – buckle up. Don’t leave the pool fence open, even if you will be back in 2 minutes. Leaving valuables in your car no matter how long you plan to be away for.
Don’t be lazy when it comes to security at home and on the road – it’s up to you to mitigate risk as often as you can.