During storm season, it’s important to know what steps you should take to protect your home and to keep you and your family safe. The Australian storm season typically runs from September to March each year and can be a devastating time for communities across the country.
Here are steps you can take during this time, or indeed if storms or cyclones are forecast at other times of the year.
Before a storm or cyclone hits
- Check your insurances (home and contents, landlord, car) are up to date so you’re properly covered.
- Clear your gutters, downpipes and storm drains regularly.
- Trim trees and branches near your home.
- Secure any loose objects outside your home, like garden furniture, bins or children’s toys.
- Make sure shade sails, awnings and outdoor umbrellas are properly fitted and secure.
- Get your roof checked for damage or corrosion.
- Make sure all doors, windows, shutters, blinds and curtains are closed. In serious storms or cyclones, tape any windows not protected by shutters in a criss-cross pattern.
- Make electronic copies of any important documents, like marriage/birth certificates and passports, and save them to a memory device or a secure online location.
- Unplug non-essential electrical items and use surge protectors.
- Prepare an emergency storm kit containing things like a first aid kit, a torch, batteries, candles, matches, bottled water and an emergency contact list.
- If you have elderly neighbours, check that they’re prepared too.
- Think of your pets and how to keep them safe. Make sure your dog is registered and micro-chipped, and that you have plenty of pet food.
- Listen out for storm warnings on the TV and radio, or get updates from http://www.bom.gov.au/
- Park your car somewhere safe, away from trees.
During a storm or cyclone
- If you’re able to stay in your home, make sure you know where its strongest point is, and shelter under a mattress, strong table or bench if necessary. Stay there and keep your emergency kit close by.
- Stay off the roads and never drive through flood water.
- If possible, remain indoors. If you do have to go outside, watch out for trees, branches or other loose objects that could cause injury.
- Follow news reports for updates on the storm and instructions from the authorities.
After a storm or cyclone has hit
- Don’t venture outside to check damage until it’s safe.
- When you do go outside, stay away from fallen trees, power lines, and flood water.
- Contact your insurer as early as possible for help. Do this before you start any major repair work.
- Make a detailed list and take photos/videos of any damaged items.
- Remove any damaged items that could pose a health or injury risk from your home (e.g. rotting food, broken glass).
- If your insurance documents are damaged, don’t worry - your insurer will have a copy.
- If you’re insured by Allianz through CUA, you can lodge a claim 24/7 by calling 1300 555 030 or online using the online claim form.
- If the storm or cyclone has caused wide-spread damage to the community, insurance companies will be busy and will prioritise claims according to those most in need. Be patient. Don’t stay on hold for long periods – hang up and try again later, lodge your claim online or use the insurer’s call back facility if activated.