Storms serve to remind us of the brutal power Mother Nature wields. Lightning strikes, deafening thunder, torrential rain, cyclone-force winds, and hail hurled viciously down with enough force to shatter windscreens.
Though often of short duration, these storms pack a mean punch and can be hideously destructive, damaging homes, blocking roads and taking out power lines.
Here’s some practical advice on how to safeguard your family and home in the event of wild weather.
There’s a storm coming
In severe weather, damage can happen to your property no matter how well you’ve prepared. That’s why it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re adequately insured, and your policies are up to date.
Make a Home Emergency Plan for your family that outlines exactly what you should do in the event of a storm.
Check the yard or balcony and make sure everything is secured.
To a strong wind, everything is a sail. Outdoor furniture, trampolines, bins, kennels, boats; everything can be picked up and hurled through the air, damaging windows, roofs and even cars.
So, identify what items need to be tied down securely, filled with water to weigh them down or placed out of harm’s way. Trim any tree branches in close proximity to the house, as they can be lashed against your windows causing severe damage.
Clean gutters, down pipes and drains.
It’s not unlikely for a severe storm to dump up to 100mm of rain in just a few hours. And when that happens, it’s not a great time to discover your gutters
are full of old twigs and leaves. If they are blocked, or your downpipes are clogged, the water will overflow under the eaves and into your roof cavity.
Check your drains and make sure they’re clear and able to cope with a large volume of water. Otherwise you might end up with a backyard swimming pool you never planned for.
It’s a good idea to park your car away from low-lying areas and drains if it’s going to rain. For extra security cover it with a tarp or blankets. Also ensure it has a full tank in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Fix any damage to your roof, including broken or missing tiles.
The last thing you need is to have these being picked up by the wind and hurled around the neighbourhood.
Turn off your electricity or gas.
If you can, try and do this at the mains.
When the storm comes
Make sure your animals are inside and secure.
Animals often get spooked by storms, (particularly thunder) which can lead them to destroying household items. Securely tying them up during a storm is good for both them and you.
Move any chemicals or poisons somewhere up high to avoid them leaching into the floodwater.
Put any outdoor equipment, cardboard boxes, garbage and anything else laying around out of harm’s way.
If water is threatening to get into the house, put your furniture and electrical appliances like televisions up high.
Fill your sinks and bath with fresh drinking water.
Storms often do nasty things to the fresh water supply and the quality can be compromised.
Check your emergency kit (see the relevant SES kit list by selecting your state)
During the storm
The most important thing is to keep yourself, your family and pets safe during the storm. Learn more about what you can do to help protect your family here at www.stormsafe.com.au.
After the storm
Ensure the storm has passed.
Before going outside, make sure it’s calm. Even if the storm isn’t as bad as when it first hit, there could still be large items and debris being hurled about by the wind.
Start recording any damage to your home
If you need emergency assistance call your local State Emergency Service. Visit the Emergency Alert website if you’re unsure about who to contact.
When you go back home, check that the electricity and gas are off .
Only use a torch. Do not use a naked flame until you are sure everything is safe.
Throw out any food that has come in contact with the floodwater.
It could be contaminated and could possibly make you sick.
Boil all water until supplies have been declared safe.
Check your smoke detectors are still working.
Don't use electrical items that are wet.
Have them and gas appliances professionally tested as soon as possible.
If you have been affected by the storms and are covered by CGU Insurance, please call 13 24 80. We hope that all of our members are staying safe.
This page provides general advice only. For up-to-date and specifi c advice relating to the risks in your area please speak to your local council or emergency services. Home Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 trading as CGU Insurance. The advice on this page is general advice only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs (“your personal circumstances”). Before using this advice to decide whether to purchase the insurance policy, you should consider your personal circumstances and the relevant Product Disclosure Statement available from cgu.com.au.