Cyclones have become a part of life for residents of northern Australia, and in their nature, cyclones carry great potential for threatening lives and causing large-scale destruction. The official cyclone season in Australia lasts from November to April.
Before a cyclone
Before a cyclone season sets in, prepare your home and:
- Keep your cyclone plan and emergency kits handy
- Your plan should inform every member of your household what to do in case a cyclone strikes.
- There are better chances of survival if everyone in the family understands the plan before a cyclone season.
- Carry a battery-powered radio in your emergency kit, just in case of a power outage and poor mobile networks.
- If your home is situated in a low-lying region, choose where you and your family will seek safety in the event of a storm surge.
- Confirm with your local council whether your home is built to cyclone standards.
- Is your insurance cover adequate? Ensure it covers you for flooding, storm surge and cyclone damage as well as the clean-up and debris removal.
- Inspect your roofs and walls and repair any loose sheets, eaves, tiles or roof screws.
- Make sure your windows are well-fitted with shutters and/or metal screens and that the locks and shutters are functioning properly.
- Trim treetops and branches overlapping your house and clear gutters of debris and leaves.
- Secure all outdoor items like caravans, boats, trailers, rainwater tanks, garden sheds, solar panels and LPG bottles.
- Ensure your household members are familiar with the Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS), usually broadcast when a cyclone is about 12 hours or less away.
- Have a plan for your pets and animals including how they would survive in case they have to be left behind. Generally, you are not allowed to go with pets to a temporary evacuation shelter so you’ll need to plan on how they would pull through the cyclone.
During a cyclone
If you’re staying at home:
- Turn off electric, gas and water supplies; unplug all appliances.
- Ensure your emergency kit stays handy.
- Move your family to the strongest room in the house.
- Stay tuned to your local radio station for fresh cyclone updates and advices.
- If your building starts breaking up, shelter under a sturdy bench, table or heavy mattress.
- Be sure to stay indoors until told it’s safe to go outside.
- Remember to comfort your children.
After a cyclone
The time immediately after a cyclone is just as dangerous as the event itself.
Many deaths and injuries often occur when people go out to explore and sightsee. Remember to stay inside until the ‘all clear’ alert is issued.
Once cyclones pass:
- Stay tuned to your radio and remain indoors until an official ‘all clear’ alert has been issued by relevant authorities.
- If you are advised to return to your home, use the recommended routes only.
- Avoid going sightseeing.
- Check on your family members, friends and neighbours.
- Check on the state of your pets and animals.
- Keep boiling or purifying your water until supplies are declared safe.
- Keep off fallen powerlines and trees, and flood water.
- If the cyclone left your home uninhabitable, contact your local council immediately to seek their help.
- If you have to go outside, be careful as powerlines and trees could be down, and water and sewage lines could be broken, and there could be loose roof sheeting and other harmful material.
- If your property suffered serious damage and you’re in need of help, contact the SES on 132 500. For life-threatening emergencies, dial triple-0.
- Always use a torch when entering a building you had left. NEVER use naked flames, matches or cigarette lighters as there could be a gas leakage.
- Take pictures of the property for insurance purposes.
Keep electricity and appliances off until assessed by an electrician. In case your solar panels are damaged, do not turn on your power supply. Ensure all your gas appliances are inspected before use.
For more information on cyclones in Australia, click here.
The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs, objectives or circumstances into consideration, and is not financial advice, legal advice or otherwise a recommendation to purchase any financial product or insurance policy. You should seek your own independent financial advice from a qualified financial and insurance adviser before making any financial decisions, and seek your own independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor before making any decisions of a legal nature.