How to: prepare your home for cyclones and what to do in the event of one occurring

On 10 November 2015 in Adam Hayes, Darwin, Jody Hayes, Tips

It’s just about that time of the year again – yes we are talking about the wet season!

And as we approach the wet season, it is important to prepare your home for cyclones and to have a ‘what to do’ guide organised for your family in the event that one hits.

At the end of the day, the safety of our family and friends is the most important thing; and of course our homes and belongings are also important. So below we have outlined a ‘how to’ plan to help you prepare.

The following will help you plan for the unexpected, and ease or eliminate some of the stress and worry that is brought on by a cyclone.

Cyclone emergency kits

In the event of a cyclone, essential services will most likely be affected, and of course provisions will be needed to sustain your family for three plus days – so pre-planning is key here.

Thus the first thing to start thinking about as we head into the wet season is a cyclone emergency kit - don’t leave this until the last minute!

Stock up on the following items and remember that these items should be stored together, ready to take with you if a cyclone hits:

- Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, family photos) 

- Emergency money including coins for public telephones 

- Enough water to keep you and your family hydrated for at least 72 hours 

- Enough food to feed you and your family for at least 72 hours (canned food, long-life milk) 

- Two spare outfits of protective clothing for each household member 

- Medications, special needs for infants, the elderly or disabled 

- Sheets, blankets, sleeping bags and pillows 

- First aid kit 

- Batteries 

- Torch, candles and matches 

- Battery operated radio 

- Fuel cans for your car 

- Pet supplies 

- Toiletry items 

- Games or books to keep the kids happy

What to do around the house in preparation for a cyclone

A lot of people are so overwhelmed by the prospect of a cyclone hitting, that they don’t know where to start in preparing the house for a potential cyclone.

Start by trimming all branches and tree tops with council approval, remove any loose items that could cause injury or damage during extreme winds.

It is essential that you check your house is ‘built to code and well maintained’, so that you can decide well beforehand where you intend to shelter. If your home is likely subject to flooding, identify your nearest safe high ground. If sheltering at home is not an option, decide where you will find shelter and the quickest route there.

Remember to think about arrangements for your pets, this could include transport cages and feeding/water bowls.

Lastly, start to communicate your plans with relatives and neighbours – as you will all need to be on the same page if a cyclone does hit.

What to do when a warning has been issued

Once you hear that a warning has been issued, make sure the family know the safety plan and then listen to what media outlets have to say.

If you are taking shelter at your own home, ensure your family members know where the strongest part of the house is (bathroom and passage way), if not ensure everyone knows where to seek shelter.

Get out the cyclone emergency kit previously packed out, and check that everything is ready to go in case an evacuation in your area is issued.

Listen to your local radio to keep up to date with the movement of the cyclone and be prepared to pick your children up from school.

Don’t forget to park cars in the garage or under shelter, bring in outside furniture indoors, board your windows and shut all doors.

What to do when an Evacuation message has been issued

Continue to listen to the media coverage of the cyclone for safe routes and when to evacuate, and if leaving your home, take your cyclone emergency kit, turn off your power, gas and water at the mains and lock your doors.

If you are evacuating inland, leave early to avoid heavy traffic, flooding and wind hazards, and if you areevacuating to a public shelter, follow Police and Emergency Service directions.

Remember, if you take pets to a designated underground car park, they must be restrained and you must remain with them at all times.

What to do during the cyclone

If you are taking shelter at a public emergency shelter, stay calm and follow the advice given by Emergency Service personnel. If your home is built to code and you are staying, take shelter in the strongest part of the house and stay away from windows.

Ensure you have turned off all power in the houseand then proceed toprotect yourself with a mattress, or rugs and blankets.

Remember, if winds die down, don’t assume the cyclone is over as it may be the eye of the storm.

What to do after the cyclone hits

Don’t go outside until advised that it is safe to do so – continue to listen to your radio for updates and advice.

If or when you go outside, beware of fallen power lines and trees, broken glass, loose items and broken sewerage and water lines.

If you took shelter at a public emergency shelter, don’t go home until the area is deemed safe to return and only use a recommended route by emergency personnel.

Please click here to view the emergency shelters and carparks in Darwin and the Greater Darwin region. 

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