Natural Disasters Safety Information

We have put together some safety information and tips for three types of natural disaster: floods, cyclones and earthquakes.


Floods

The most common form of flooding in Australia is the flooding of rivers following heavy rainfall. Another major form of flooding is the overflow of drainage systems in urban areas, particularly in heavily populated areas. If you live in a flood prone area, here are some precautionary measures as recommended by Emergency Management Australia.

1. If you need to evacuate

  • Notify a neighbour, friend or the local authorities of your new address.
  • Turn off power, water and gas and take your mobile phone.
  • Pack warm clothing, essential medication, valuables and sentimental items in waterproof bags, to be taken with your emergency kit.
  • Move furniture, clothing and valuables onto beds, tables (electrical items highest).
  • Lock your home and take recommended evacuation routes for your area.
  • Don't drive through flooded ground.

2. If you stay during the flood

  • Stay tuned to local radio for updated advice.
  • Don't allow children to play in, or near, flood waters.
  • Avoid entering floodwaters.
  • Stay away from drains, culverts and water over knee-deep.
  • Don't use gas or electrical appliances which have been in flood water until checked for safety.
  • Don't eat food which has been in flood waters and boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe.

Cyclones

Cyclones are frequent visitors of Australia between November and April. Cyclones mainly affect coastal areas north of Perth along the WA and NT coasts, most of the QLD coast and occasionally the far northern NSW coast.

Here are some precautionary measures as recommended by Emergency Management Australia

  • Before the cyclone season, check with your local council if your home has been built to cyclone standards.
  • Check that the walls, roof and eaves of your home are secure.
  • Trim treetops and branches well clear of your home (get council permission).
  • Fit shutters, or at least metal screens, to all glass areas.
  • Clear your property of loose material that could blow about and possibly cause injury or damage during extreme winds.
  • In case of a storm warning or other flooding, know your nearest safe high ground and the safest access route to it.
  • Prepare an emergency kit to take with you and keep a list of emergency numbers on display.
  • When a cyclone watch is issued, fill your car's fuel tank. Ensure that your family members know which is the strongest part of your house.
  • Listen continuously to your local radio/TV for further warnings.
  • When the cyclone strikes, disconnect all electrical appliances. Listen to your battery radio for updates.
  • Stay indoors (unless you are asked to evacuate) in the strongest part of the building, i.e. cellar, internal hallway or bathroom. Keep evacuation and emergency kits with you.
  • Protect yourself with mattresses, rugs or blankets under a strong table or bench if the building starts to break up.
  • Drive carefully as roads may be filled with debris.

Earthquakes

Any part of Australia could experience an earthquake. To reduce your vulnerability, Emergency Management Australia recommends the following precautionary steps:

  • Check that your insurance covers earthquake damage.
  • If you currently building your home, seek expert advice on the depth and type of foundations and construction to suit your soil conditions.
  • Check and repair cracks in walls or gaps in mortar between bricks in existing buildings.
  • Have an emergency kit which includes: a portable radio and torch with fresh batteries; containers of fresh water, canned food supplies; and a first aid kit and instruction manual.
  • Have an evacuation plan for you and your family.
  • Know the safest areas during earthquakes. Shelter under a door frame, table, bench, etc.
  • List emergency phone numbers for police, fire, ambulance and gas, etc.
  • If indoors, don't leave the house and keep clear of windows, chimneys and overhead fittings. If leaving the home, do not use elevators/lifts.
  • Keep well clear of buildings, overhead structures, walls, bridges, power lines, trees etc.
  • Stay away from fallen power lines; damaged roads, and landslides.
  • Listen to your car radio for warnings before moving.
  • Turn off electricity, gas, and water. Do not light matches and check for gas or fuel leaks and damaged wiring.
  • Check for broken water, sewerage or electrical mains.
  • Expect aftershocks. Evacuate if the building is damaged.
  • Do not go sightseeing or enter damaged buildings. Don't panic and help others if possible.