Knowing what to do during a storm emergency can be confusing. But there are clear procedures of which you and your family should be aware. Here are our safety tips to follow from the time a storm warning is issued, to when winds return to levels considered non-threatening, including when and how to evacuate if necessary.
Alerts are issued by The Bureau of Meteorology via media outlets when a severe storm is likely to occur in an area within six hours. These are updated any time from 30 minutes to six hour intervals depending on the location, with notification of when the next warning will be released.
A warning will specify the conditions expected including hail, heavy rain, flash flooding, abnormally high tides, strong winds or tornadoes. Keep in mind residents often only have a short time to act. “Maybe less than 15 minutes,” confirms a BOM spokesperson. So it’s important to do so promptly.
It’s a good idea to check your neighbours are also aware of storm warning signs. There are also precautions you should take before a storm, to adequately prepare your home and greatly reduce the risk of damage. It’s also handy to have downloaded the free BOM Weather app so you can access warnings from anywhere, on your smartphone.
Where you and your family shelter during a storm is a crucial factor in staying safe. Ideally your home is already prepared before the storm hits, so it’s time to focus on safeguarding your family while it’s in full force. State based emergency services recommend the safest place to be is indoors but if you are outdoors during a severe storm, avoid exterior walls and get to shelter as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Other simple things you can do in a storm situation are:
State Government authorities further advise the following dos and don’ts, depending on the type of weather phenomena being experienced:
Maintain contact with your local emergency services and inform your neighbours about what you plan to do if you must evacuate. Ideally take your pets (check first if you can take them), emergency kit and follow your storm disaster plan before moving to higher ground.
See our previous How to Prepare for a Storm article for more information.
However, if you cannot evacuate, keep your family calm until the storm passes then get to the highest part of your home, before calling either 000 nationally, or your state-based emergency service, to be rescued.
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This article is intended as a general guide only. You should consult your state emergency services for further information
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