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What to do ahead of severe storms in Queensland?

Lightning coming from the sky

By Aline Rodrigues

University of Southern Queensland experts in disaster preparedness have created the ultimate storm checklist based on extensive research and work with emergency services.

According to Dr Barbara Ryan, a disaster and emergency communications researcher, storms were becoming more intense, and evidence showed that a lack of hazard preparedness had led to many otherwise preventable deaths, injuries and damage.

“From 1987 to 2016, storms in Australia killed 89 people, injured 360, caused 15,500 people to become homeless and directly affected over four million people”, Dr Ryan said.

The researcher still believes that communities mostly remain unprepared for the impact of natural hazards, even in areas at high risk of storms like in south-east Queensland.

“We also need to get ready for cyclones moving further south – most of us are nowhere nearly as ready as North Queenslanders for cyclones and bad storms”.

Thus, Dr Ryan and the University of Southern Queensland statistician, Dr Rachel King, compiled a list about what it is necessary to do ahead of severe storms. It was refined and tested in a series of interviews with locals in storm-susceptible communities in the Toowoomba region.

This list addresses four key themes: 

.getting ready to keep yourself safe

.getting your house ready

.getting prepared to evacuate if the worst happens

.preparation for what happens after the storm when there is no power and roads could be blocked for a while.

“Based on data from a number of households in the Highfields and Hodgson Vale, most participants had taken steps to prepare their house for a storm, yet were less likely to have a stress-free evacuation plan for family and pets if their house was badly damaged,” Dr Ryan explained.

“Yet, our research also showed us that if the task looks too big, some people won’t even consider doing it, so here are three things to make a priority:

1) recognise that everyone in Queensland is at risk of being impacted by wild storms;

2) download the Get Prepared App or print off the Get Prepared guide from the Red Cross website;

3) and do as much as you can from the app or the guide this weekend – don’t wait!”.

CHECKLIST – PREPARING FOR STORM SEASON

Safety preparation (On the approach to each storm season)

  1. Do you identify the safest room in the house in which to shelter?
  2. Do you review how to switch off water, gas and power?
  3. Do you prepare a storm emergency plan in your head?
  4. Do you organise a written storm or emergency plan?
  5. Do you discuss the storm emergency plan with your family/household?
  6. Do you prepare an emergency kit (including safety clothing and equipment) for self/family?
  7. Do you contact the State Emergency Service for advice, or search the website?
  8. Do you monitor weather regularly/search for more information on the cyclone or storm?
  9. Do you ensure you have a battery-operated radio?
  10. Do you confirm you have battery backup/charging for your mobile phone?
  11. Do you practice the storm emergency plan?

Preparation of house (On the approach to each storm season)

  1. Do you clear leaves and grass from around the house?
  2. Do you clear gutters?
  3. Do you cut back trees near the house?
  4. Do you check your roof to make sure it is in good condition?
  5. Do you bring furniture and other loose items inside on bad days?
  6. Do you install or check protective covers for windows?

Preparation for leaving

  1. Do you arrange a safe evacuation place for the family?
  2. Do you set a safe evacuation place for pets?
  3. Do you have a safe evacuation place for large animals/livestock?
  4. Do you plot evacuation routes?
  5. Do you pack supplies for pets/livestock ready to go?
  6. Do you pack valuables and overnight bag ready to go?

Preparation for post-impact

  1. Do you make sure you have enough water for three days?
  2. Do you make sure you have enough food for three days?
  3. Do you organise a secondary power?

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