Preparing your family and home for natural disasters: bushfires, cyclones, floods and more
Over the years, Australians have been subjected to some of the worst that Mother Nature has to offer. From softball-sized hail in Sydney, to extreme flooding affecting more than 200,000 Queenslanders, to traumatic bushfires burning 24 million hectares of land across the country – we’ve seen the terrifying effects of natural disaster first-hand. And while we can’t control the weather, we can prepare for it.
Planning for emergencies
When these natural disasters strike, preparation is key. Damage isn’t always avoidable, but following these tips can help to keep you and your loved ones safe, and potentially lessen the impact of natural disasters on your home and belongings.
Create an emergency and evacuation plan
Having an emergency and evacuation plan in place will help to ensure everyone in your household is prepared and on the same page – literally. It’s designed to keep you connected if you become separated or lose mobile phone connectivity. Each household is different, but your plan might include things like the following:
- Family/household member contact details.
- Workplace/school/daycare contact details.
- Emergency contacts.
- Neighbour contact details.
- Your household’s safe meeting point.
- Your home’s electricity/gas/water supply location and how to turn it off.
- Emergency and evacuation kit location.
Once your plan has been created, make sure everyone in your household has a copy.
Create emergency and evacuation kits
No matter what natural disaster you’re preparing for, it’s a good idea to have emergency and evacuation kits on hand.
An emergency kit is a collection of items your household would need if you were unable to leave your home for an extended period of time due to a natural disaster. It might include things like:
- enough drinking water and non-perishable food for three days
- first aid kit
- torch with spare batteries
- phone charger and fully charged portable battery or power pack
- hand sanitiser, and
- face masks.
In addition to this, each member of your household should have their own evacuation kit ready to easily grab if it becomes unsafe to be at your home. This could include
- important documents
- medication and scripts
- spare clothes
- blankets/bedding, and
- photos and valuables.
Bushfires have always been present in Australia – particularly in South Australia and Victoria where hot, dry summers are the norm and there are plenty of oil-bearing eucalypts around.
If you’re in a bushfire prone area, it’s important to take steps to help protect your home. This can include the following:
- Mowing your grass regularly.
- Enclosing open areas under your deck and floors.
- Sealing all gaps in external roof and wall cladding.
- Relocating any flammable liquid away from your home.
Your home is where you and your family should feel safe… so it’s important to minimise hazards at home.
While you probably can’t guarantee a cyclone proof house or a flood proof house, there are a few things you can do to help reduce hazards at home.
Here are a few things that may help make your home more fireproof by reducing the risk of fire damage:
Always pay full attention when cooking.
Regularly inspect your chimney and electrical systems…
Always ensure you have working smoke alarms in the house.
To help reduce the risk of damage caused by bushfires to your home and family
Clean your gutters regularly, consider installing fire resistant gutter guards, cut back overhanging branches, and check your garden hose can reach your property boundaries
Remember to have a survival plan ready You can take measures to help prepare reduce the risks of flood damage
Clean gutters and downpipes regularly
Repair loose roof tiles or other damage to the roof
Have sand bags in case your area does flood
And DON’T Use electrical or gas appliances affected by floodwater, until they’ve been checked
Other household hazards include poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning from fossil fuel burning appliances is another hazard.
Consider Installing a carbon monoxide detector.
Ingesting cleaning supplies or medications is another safety hazard. Keep chemicals and medications stayed safely away from children.
Water can be hazardous. Especially so for young children.
It only takes 20 seconds for a toddler to drown. Supervise young children around water at all times.
In Victoria, all swimming pools and spas capable of containing 30cm depth of water must have a compliant safety barrier. It’s important to be prepared for earthquakes.
Make sure to fasten tall furniture to walls
Store hazardous material safely away
And don’t store heavy objects on tall shelves or hang heavy items over beds or sofas.
This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Conduct your own research and conduct a risk assessment of your home.
And if you’re looking for cover for insured event like a fire or earthquake, you can find out more about AAMI’s combined Home and Contents Insurance.
Save $50 when you quote and buy online.
Head to aami.com.au for more info or find the link below! The information is intended to be of general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.
Australians living in cyclone-prone areas like northern Queensland understand the havoc that this kind of natural disaster can wreak. Cyclone season along Queensland’s coast usually occurs between November and April and can see winds of up to 300km/h, torrential rains, storm surges and wild seas occurring.
The best defence against cyclones is making sure your property is strong enough to withstand them. Consider the following tips:
- Asking your local council if your home is built to cyclone standards.
- Checking your roof and repairing any loose tiles, eaves or roof screws.
- Fitting windows with shutters, plywood or metal screens to prevent glass from shattering.
- Trimming any branches hanging over your house and clearing gutters of debris.
Storms can produce damaging hail, strong wind gusts, flash flooding, tornadoes and lightning and pose a significant threat to homes in Australia.
Here’s a brief list of what you can do to protect your home against storms:
- Seal your entry points, like doors and windows. You might consider boarding up windows with storm shutters or plywood to reduce the likelihood of glass shattering.
- Tie down and secure any loose objects – items surrounding your home can be swept up with storms and potentially cause property damage.
- Create a home inventory to weather the storm. Stock up on your favourite canned foods and ensure you have a battery-operated torch and radio on hand.
Every year, especially in Queensland, floods cause millions of dollars of damage to buildings and critical infrastructure. Roads, railway, agricultural land and property are all susceptible to the effects of flooding. When heavy rainfall hits, natural watercourses don’t have the capacity to move excess water out. This can result in flash flooding along rivers and drainage systems left without the capacity to cope with the downpour.
Here are a few ways you can help to protect your home from floods:
- Ensure your yard is properly graded, so that water can drain away from your home.
- Repair sidewalks, patios, decks or driveways that have shifted over the years, which may allow water to pool dangerously close to the home.
- Landscape your garden with plants and vegetation that will minimise soil erosion.
- Keep storm drains near your home clear of leaves and debris.
- Repair or replace your roof if tiles are deteriorating or missing.
On average, Australia experiences two earthquakes with magnitudes greater than five per year. To protect yourself and your home be sure to:
- secure heavy items to the wall or make sure they’re bolted down,
- store heavy, breakable objects on low shelves, and
- fix any structural building issues (if possible).
Make sure you’re covered
With AAMI Home and Contents Insurance, you’re covered for certain weather events under your policy, including:
- storm and storm surge
- earthquake and tsunami
- fire (including bushfire), and
Making an AAMI Home Insurance claim
Need to make a home insurance claim following a natural disaster? Quickly and easily lodge your claim online or via the AAMI App, and an AAMI Claims Consultant will be in touch to organise an assessment.
- First home buyers insurance guide
- Does my home insurance cover me for flood damage?
- AAMI's top home insurance claims in Australia – Are you covered?
^Actions or movements of the sea and storm surge are not covered (unless the storm surge damage occurs at the same time as damage caused by storm). Other exclusions apply.
AAMI Home Building and Home Contents Insurance are issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) trading as AAMI. Read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before buying this product. The Target Market Determination is also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.