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Floods in Australia: Preparation Guide

Parts of Australia can experience bad floods at any time. Here’s how you can keep yourself safe.

September 2020 – 3 minute read

What’s in this article:

  • How to prepare for a flood
  • What to do when a flood is approaching
  • What to do after a flood


 

floods in Australia

Unfortunately, flooding can happen almost anywhere in Australia. Areas near rivers, creeks as well as coastal areas might seem like obvious risk zones, but torrential rain can cause flash-flooding practically anywhere. No matter what causes flooding though, it has the potential to cause serious damage.

How to prepare for a flood

There’s no time like the present to get sorted:
 

  • If you know you live in a flood-prone area, planting trees and shrubs can help control erosion and hinder the speed of flowing water.
  • When it comes to choosing flooring inside your home, consider alternatives to carpet such as tiles.
  • Make sure you’ve always got an emergency kit – chances are when a flood is on the way, you won’t have a chance to put one together. As a minimum, an emergency kit should contain first aid supplies, water, canned food (and a can opener), flash light, warm clothing and a battery-operated radio.
  • Have a prepared emergency plan that can guide you through a variety of natural emergencies (including flooding). It should include emergency contact details, evacuation plans and information on any medical conditions anyone in your household may have.
  • Check your insurance - make sure it covers flood damage and is up-to-date.

When a flood is on the way

  • If there’s a chance your home could get flooded, move what you can to a higher place. If you have a second floor, move what you can upstairs. Using roof space is an option, but be aware of how much weight it’ll be able to take. As a minimum, put rugs on beds and move electrical items on to the top of cupboards or tables.
  • Make sure everything that’s important is in a safe place in a waterproof bag. This includes jewellery, documents, personal items and photos.
  • Empty out the fridge and freezer and leave the doors open – this will help minimise loss or damage if they float.
  • Put sandbags in the toilet bowl and over any bathroom and laundry drains – this can stop sewage flowing back inside.
  • Outside, open gates to allow water to flow freely. If you can, move outdoor furniture inside.

After a flood

  • Get permission from emergency services to go back inside your property. If you’re evacuated, it’s extremely important that you don’t return to your property or vehicle until emergency services have given the all clear to do so.
  • Keep all power and electrical appliances off until they have been checked and approved for use and the house is cleaned up.
  • Avoid floodwater as it may be contaminated by oil, gas, chemicals or raw sewage.
  •  Boil tap water until supplies are declared safe. Drinking water may also be contaminated so wait for new reports to confirm whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
  •  Clean everything that was affected by the flood, as anything can become contaminated by floodwater. Make sure you wear gloves and a mask during the clean-up.
  • Take photographs of everything and keep a record of the damage as it may be needed for insurance claims
  • Always wait for the all clear from emergency services and don’t assume the danger has passed – as you may in fact be in the eye of a tropical cyclone. If you have evacuated your property, don’t return until you have an official all clear.

 

Download the emergency checklist:

Emergency checklist (PDF 1MB)


 

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