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Severe Weather Preparation Guide

Knowing what to do in a severe weather event and being prepared in advance can go a long way to keeping you safe. When severe weather hits in Australia, hazardous conditions such as hail, storms, flash floods, thunder and lightning can happen. Here are some tips to help keep yourself and your family safe during extreme weather conditions.

October 2020 – 4 minute read

What’s in this article:

  • Getting prepared in advance for severe weather
  • What to do when a storm is approaching
  • How to stay safe during hailstorms and high winds
  • How to stay safe during lightning
  • How to stay safe during flash floods


 

Man clearing out the gutter to get ready for storm season

Getting prepared in advance for severe weather

  • Prepare an essential emergency kit – if you already have one, check to see that it still has everything you need, such as that the torch batteries are still working. Your emergency kit should also include copies of important documents such as insurance policies, so it’s a good time to check these are still up to date.
  • Make sure you’ve got an emergency family plan, so you and your family know what to do during an emergency. This should also include where you would evacuate to or where you would reunite should anyone become separated.
  • Understand different severe weather warnings for hazardous weather conditions. The Bureau of Meteorology has information on both severe weather warnings (for potentially dangerous weather that isn’t solely related to tropical cyclones or bushfires) and severe thunderstorm warnings.
  • Check your insurance - When planning for severe weather, make sure your home and contents insurance and building insurance is up-to-date and the sum insured amount is enough. It’s a good idea to have your insurer’s details in your emergency kit checklist or saved to your phone, so you’ll be able to contact them if you need to.

When a storm is approaching

  • Check around your property and remove any loose objects that could cause damage if they get blown around. If you can’t move items inside, see if you can tie down or fill items likely to get blown around with water, such as large garbage bins
  • If you can, move vehicles into a garage. If this isn’t an option, cover them with blankets or tarpaulin. You should also make sure you’ve got a full tank of petrol should you need to evacuate.
  • If there is a risk of flooding, move furniture, appliances, books, rugs and art as high as you can. If you have chemicals or poisons in your home or garage, make sure these are up high as well or get rid of them safely.
  • Make sure you’ve got protective clothing and footwear ready to wear.
  • Ensure your pets have shelter. If you have to evacuate and can’t take them, make sure they have secure shelter, but don’t tie them up.
  • Never travel through floodwater. Stay clear of creeks, streams, drains, causeways, gutters, fallen trees, power lines and damaged buildings.

How to stay safe through hailstorms and strong winds

Stay inside and close all windows and doors. Find refuge in a small interior room, stairwell or the lowest floor of the building. Make sure family members are safe and accounted for, including pets. Stay clear of glass windows, doors and exterior walls.


If outside, seek shelter in a building or under a low bridge – don’t shelter in a car or caravan. Protect your head and hang on to a base of a shrub or small tree. Don’t try to outrun high winds or a cyclone.

How to stay safe during lightning 

Remain indoors and stay clear of windows, doors and fireplaces. Make sure all windows and doors are securely shut. Unplug all electrical appliances and don’t use telephones (either a landline or mobile) during the storm. Both water and metal are electrical conductors so make sure you don’t take a bath or touch electrical equipment during a lightning storm.


If outside, seek shelter in a building or vehicle. When there is no available shelter, crouch down, feet close together and keep your head tucked down. If you’re in a group, spread out several metres apart. Discard umbrellas, golf clubs and don't stand under trees or poles.

How to stay safe during flash floods

A flash flood is a violent and sudden flood.  If you’re at home, get as high as you can and stay clear of windows or glass doors.


If you’re outside, find refuge as high as possible and call emergency services for help. When driving a vehicle, turn on hazard lights and pull over to the side of the road. Keep clear of causeways, streams, creeks, drains, trees and power lines.


If the flood water has risen around your car but the water isn’t moving, get out and move to higher ground. Don’t enter moving water.

 

Download the emergency checklist:

Emergency checklist (PDF 1MB)


 

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