Prepare Your Home

Prepare Your Home

The best time to prepare your home is before storm season.  Taking steps now to secure and protect your property can improve the safety of your home.  If you rent or are just visiting, you will still be safer if the property is prepared.  Here are a range of suggested tasks to assist you in preparing your home and property to minimise potential damage.

General home maintenance

  1. Check the condition of the roof and arrange for the repair of loose tiles, eaves and roof screws.
  2. Clean gutters and downpipes so water can drain away as quickly as possible.
  3. Trim trees and overhanging branches.
  4. Secure loose items around your property and garden that could cause damage if blown around in high winds (such as garden furniture and toys).

General home preparations

  1. Ensure your home, contents and car insurance is current and provides adequate cover – check your policy includes debris clean up and disposal costs.
  2. Identify which room is the safest part of the house, in case you need to shelter at home during severe storm or cyclone (usually this is the smallest room with the least windows).
  3. Identify where and how to turn off mains supply for water, power and gas.
  4. Purchase emergency essentials to have on hand, such as:
  5. containers to store drinking water supplies
  6. spare supply of fuel for use in your vehicle (ensure you store safely)
  7. wide masking tape for windows
  8. Sandbags – hessian bags filled with sand to place over indoor drains to prevent sewerage backwash from flooding.

If you live in an area prone to flooding

  1. Store all chemicals and poisons above ground level in case of flash flooding.
  2. Identify which indoor items you will need to raise or empty if flooding threatens your home (e.g. freezers and refrigerators).
  3. Consider the following:
  4. alternatives to carpet floor coverings
  5. relocating your electrical sockets and power points well above floor level.

If you live in an area prone to cyclones or severe storms

  1. Fit windows with shutters or metal screens for added protection during high winds.
  2. Arrange for a professional builder to check your building and identify measures to increase the structural security of your home to withstand high winds.

If you live in an area prone to bushfires

  1. Surround your home or property with an adequate fire break. Create an effective fire break by:
    1. Mowing your grass regularly
    2. Keeping it green and well-watered
    3. Removing excess ground fuel such as vegetation or wood
    4. Removing excess ladder fuels (materials which, when burning, allow a fire to climb)
    5. Clearing leaves from gutters, downpipes and building roofs on your property
    6. Triming low lying branches that surround your home to at least two metres off the ground.
  2. Removing unnecessary fuel and combustible material stored on or around your property (store it in a safe location).
  3. Avoid piling up material against your home, sheds and fences, or near livestock and areas of environmental or cultural significance.
  4. Check surrounding grassland and bushland for bushfire risk, which increases in areas containing leaves, bark, twigs and cured brown grass. Around 1cm depth of fuel on the ground could carry a mild fire, while around 6cm of fuel presents significant risk.
  5. Hand and mechanical clearing is often the best method to minimise fuel loads and hazards.
  6. Reduce combustible material on your property by pruning, thinning or removing trees and shrubs.

When weather warnings are issued

  1. Disconnect electrical appliances and all external TV / radio aerials.
  2. Turn off electricity and gas main supplies if instructed by authorities.
  3. Place outdoor furniture inside or, if you have a swimming pool, submerge plastic outdoor furniture under the water to prevent it flying around in high winds.
  4. Fill buckets and bath with clean water in case the water supply becomes restricted (make sure you have water purification tablets to make water drinkable).
  5. Close windows with shutters or tape windows without shutters in a criss-crossing pattern using strong packing tape and draw curtains.
  6. Move wheelie bins inside or fill with water.
  7. Park vehicles under cover and secure with firmly tied tarpaulins and blankets.
  8. Check all household members are safe and are sheltering in the safest room in the house (internal room, hallway, built-in wardrobe or cellar).
  9. Take your Household Emergency Kit with you while sheltering from the storm or cyclone.
  10. Listen to your local radio station for updates on the event and further warnings and safety messages.

Insurance

The Insurance Council of Australia can provide information to determine if your policy is appropriate for your circumstances.  Please ensure that you understand what is covered by your policy and what is not.