Although Australia is renowned internationally for its blue skies and perfect beach days, it’s also no stranger to heavy rain, damaging storms and even cyclones (particularly in Queensland!). Each year, on average, severe storms are responsible for more damage in terms of insurance claims than floods, cyclones or even bushfires. Unpredictable weather is a fact of life, so we may as well be ready for it. Here are 10 expert tips that will help you prepare for storm season.
Tip #1 – Clear Your Gutters & Downpipes At Least Twice a Year
Water damage from blocked gutters can cause significant damage and result in costly repairs. If water enters the structure of your home, it can damage internal plastering , allow beams to rot and even cause structural issues in the foundations. Part of your severe storm preparation should be clearing drains and downpipes of all plants and leaves at least twice a year, more if your roof is next to large trees.
Tip #2 – Trim All Trees and Branches and Be Aware of Root Damage
Branches close to power lines and homes can be a significant fire risk, so you should trim all trees regularly and make sure dead branches are removed from your property. Root damage can be a major cause of tree failure that can lead to dead branches, so contact an arborist if you need professional advice.
Tip #3 – Maintain Your Roof and Check for Damage That Could Cause Leakages
Get storm ready by maintaining your roof regularly. Fix sealing leaks and make sure you check for cracked and/or displaced tiles or any other signs of damage that could cause leakage issues or send tiles flying in a wind gust.
Tip #4 – Secure Outdoor Items So They Don’t Become Airborne
Sometimes there is minimal warning when it comes to storms and unfortunately, large items becoming airborne can cause extensive damage to property, not to mention lives. Put away any pot plants and store away or tie down any outdoor furniture, umbrellas or trampolines.
Tip #5 – Protect Your Car From Falling Trees and Damaging Hail
Plan ahead and prepare for storm season by parking your vehicle under cover and away from trees. If your yard is prone to flooding, organise an alternative parking spot, and make sure you have a full tank of petrol at all times in case you need to evacuate in a storm. Hail can also cause irreparable damage to cars, so it’s worth considering the purchase of a padded car cover.
Tip #6 – Make Sure You Have a Home Emergency Plan
Every member of your household should be involved in developing a Home Emergency Plan for storm season and things that should be discussed include:
- How a severe storm could impact your home
- Where your exit points and evacuation meeting point is
- Where to go if you need to evacuate
- How to remain in contact if you’re separated
- Identifying the safest room in which to shelter during a storm
- How to safely turn off water, power and gas if needed
- What valuables should be taken in the event of an emergency
- Whether your home, contents and car insurance is adequate and current
- What to include in your Home Emergency Kit
- Whether your pets are microchipped and if not, whether their tags are up to date and securely fastened
You should also review your Home Emergency Plan on a regular basis and talk to your neighbours about their emergency action plans so that you know how to get and receive help before, during and after a severe storm.
Tip #7 – Create an Emergency Kit With Basic Supplies
One of the most important things to have on hand when you’re preparing for storms is a Home Emergency Kit. This should allow you to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours, and should also include basic supplies that could help you get by if you lose power. Your kit should include:
- Battery operated radio with additional batteries
- Torches and spare batteries
- Candles, lighters, matches
- BBQ with a spare gas tank
- Plenty of bottled drinking water
- Non-perishable food items like canned foods, noodles, instant coffee, powdered milk, pet food
- Paper plates and cutlery
- Can opener
- Toilet paper and paper towels
- Extra keys to the car and house
- Insect repellent
- Rubbish bags
- Essential medication
- Cash in smaller bills
- Personal documents like ID and insurance policies
- Home Emergency Plan including emergency contact numbers
If you live in an area that is prone to severe storms and/or floods, you might also consider adding the following items:
- Mobile phone, spare battery and charger
- Change of clothing and shoes
- Pillows, sleeping bags and blankets
- Camping stove or gas burner
- Valuables, photos and mementoes in waterproof bags
- Books and games for children
- Sturdy gloves
Your Home Emergency Kit should be kept in a waterproof box in an easy to access location, and it should be regularly checked and re-stocked if any items are out of date.
Tip #8 – Have a First-Aid Kit Handy
Having a well-stocked First Aid kid is critical, not just during storm season, but any time of the year. Kits can be purchased from reputable dealers or you can choose a DIY version, which should include:
- Antiseptic wipes
- Dressings – adhesives, crepe bandages, compression bandages and butterfly closures
- Gauze pads
- Surgical tape and safety pins
- Saline and hand sanitizer
- Antibiotic ointment
- Electrolyte powders
- Pain relief medication
- Cold relief medication
- Scissors and tweezers
- Disposable gloves
- Irrigation syringes
- Cold packs
- Other scripted medications
- First Aid book
Tip #9 – Tune In, Log On and Listen Out
If a severe storm alert or weather warning has been issued in your area, it’s important to gain as much information as you can to help you prepare and protect both your family and your home.
Tune into your local radio or TV station for storm warnings and weather updates. A battery-powered radio can be a lifeline during severe storms, as there are often power outages.
Log on to sites such as your local council’s website, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Queensland Disaster Management website or the Queensland Government disaster and alerts website.
If your area is inundated by severe weather, you need to be aware of storm safety and listen out for Emergency Alert messages on your mobile phone, Emergency Services personnel who may knock on your door, and for the Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS), which is the siren used at the beginning of storm warning announcements on both TV and radio.
Tip #10 – Where to Get Help
The State Emergency Service (SES) is your first port of call when it comes to getting assistance during a flood or storm emergency. They can be contacted by phone on 132 500, you can lodge your request for assistance online, or you can download their Apple or Android app via iTunes and Google Play. For any other serious or life-threatening situations, call Triple Zero (000).
Worried about how your roof will hold up in storm season? For over 20 years we’ve been replacing and maintaining a variety of roofs across Brisbane. For all your roofing needs, contact the experts at Strongguard today on (07) 3623 4422.