How To Make Your Toowoomba Home Storm Safe
Like many other parts of Australia, Queensland has experienced severe thunderstorms, intense rainfall and some flooding in recent years.
The flash flooding Toowoomba received back in 2011 was memorable but we’ve also received a drenching in the last couple of months.
The Toowoomba area was hit hard in January, with one man’s roof ripped off in Clifton, and, in greater South East Queensland, thousands of people left without power. In February, Tropical Cyclone Uesi caused parts of Queensland to be further saturated. Going forward, the Bureau of Meteorology in Queensland has predicted that autumn will be wetter than average in the state’s south.
In light of this, it’s important to make sure that your home is storm safe.
Before a storm hits
During an emergency or disaster, calls to the State Emergency Services (SES) skyrocket. This means that there can be a long delay – sometimes days – before the SES might be able to reach your home. As a result, the best way to boost your resilience in the event of a storm – whether it be high winds, lightning, hail, and flash flooding, or a combination of them, is to prepare yourself before one hits. The good news is that there are numerous ways to prepare yourself and your property for a storm.
Firstly, find out what’s happening. Check the weather, and wild weather warnings, on your local radio station, Queensland’s Bureau of Meteorology website, the Queensland Government’s website, and on our local council website. Subscribe to social media feeds of emergency services, like @QldSES and @BOM_Qld, in order to get the latest updates.
Create an emergency plan
Just like a bushfire plan, this is a document that should include a plan for leaving, and a plan for staying, including what to do with pets and livestock. For a full description of what your emergency plan should include, visit www.getready.qld.gov.au.
Your emergency plan should also include:
- All essential contact details for emergency services, your insurance provider, family doctor, work and school, neighbours, family and friends.
- Details for a safe meeting point, should members of the household become separated.
- Internet links to relevant warning websites, such as the SES and the BOM.
Save your house
While storms and cyclones can produce winds greater than 200 kilometres per hour, there are many ways for you to bolster the strength of your property.
For those living in low lying or flood-prone areas, you might want to consider things like alternatives to carpet floor coverings, and relocate electrical sockets and power-points to well above floor level.
In addition, you will want to:
- Ensure that your insurance policy is current and adequate – check it includes debris clean up and disposal.
- Secure or put away items around your home that could become dislodged in the event of strong winds, and cause damage.
- Clean your gutters, downpipes and drains, to prevent blockages.
- Trim trees and branches that could fall on your property.
- Fix any roof damage, like loose tiles.
- Park your car under secure cover and away from trees, powerlines, and drains.
- Disconnect computers, televisions, and other electrical appliances before a storm.
- Move electrical equipment to higher ground.
Build a storm emergency kit
Storms can hit suddenly, leaving you with little or no time to pack an emergency kit that will enable you to get through three days at home, without basic services. So, prepare one ahead of time. You will want to include survival and recovery essentials, in a waterproof storage container. Keep your kit above ground level, near an exit in your home, in case you need to evacuate, and need to take it with you.
It should include:
- Essential medication and prescriptions.
- First aid kit.
- Personal hygiene items.
- Torch and extra batteries.
- A range of non-perishable food.
- Can opener.
- Bottled water.
- Essential clothing and closed-toe shoes.
- Plastic garbage bags.
- Battery powered radio with extra batteries.
- Prepaid telephone and portable charger.
Don’t forget to also include items that will help limit the disruption of your life after the storm has passed. These include:
- Important documents including Wills.
- Driver’s licenses.
- Marriage and birth certificates.
- Land titles.
- Mortgage papers.
- Insurance papers.
- Medical histories.
- Child immunisation books.
During a storm
While conditions are severe, stay indoors and keep away from windows. You should also:
- Turn your radio to your local radio station, for emergency information.
- Stay clear of drains, creeks and causeways, fallen trees or powerlines, and damaged buildings.
- Keep clear of metal fixtures, such as roofs, guttering, downpipes and taps, in case of lightning.
- Never drive, walk, swim, or ride through floodwaters.
- Be aware of reduced powerline height clearances, if, in the case of flood, you are moving around your area in boats. Flood waters will make you closer to the power lines.
- Contact the SES Emergency Services on 132 500 for emergency help.
Clean up following a storm
A storm can seriously impact not just the outside of your home, and your greater property, but the inside of your home itself. There are numerous steps you can take to handle any storm-related damage. You should:
- Contact your local council for information on cleaning and kerbside pickup.
- Take photos, and contact your insurance company before you start any cleaning.
- Take extra care around your switchboard. If it’s outdoors, wear synthetic or rubber soled shoes. If you are in any doubt about its safety, do not touch it, and call a licensed electrical contractor.
- Make sure not to touch electrical fittings, if water is coming through them. Contact your electrician.
- Have household appliances affected by water checked by an authorised electrical contractor before using them again.
- Contact a licensed gasfitter, as soon as the natural disaster has passed, to have any affected LPG and natural gas appliances and equipment checked.
In the event of severe damage
In addition to contacting your insurance provider, you can contact the Queensland Government – at www.getready.qld.gov.au, or on 1800 173 349, or 13 74 68 – for a variety of financial assistance, after a storm. This includes emergency hardship assistance, disaster-related financial assistance, and temporary accommodation.
You can also help your wider community by:
- Notifying Energex, in South East Queensland, about damage to utilities, like electricity and water, power outages, and fallen powerlines on 13 19 62.
- Contacting Toowoomba council, on 131 872, and the Queensland SES, on 132 500, about damage to dams, overflowing pools, or fallen trees.