Sudden weather changes, from heavy rainfall to cyclones, are a part of life. And while we cannot avoid them even in bright and cheery Australia, we can always prepare for storms beforehand.
When doing this, I suggest involving your little ones at home, too. It’ll be good to train them early on how to respond to emergencies or possible danger.
Here are ways to prepare for storms together with your family.
1. Clean Your Yard
Strong winds can easily blow away leaves or tree branches and even uproot trees. So, if you have a garden at home, make sure to keep your plants trimmed and secure.
Bring your potted plants indoors and remove hanging pots as a precaution. It’s best to have an arborist check on your trees for root damage every two years, too.
Ideally, make yard maintenance a habit. That way, you can lessen yard clean-up time and focus on your other storm preparation tasks.
2. Secure Cars and Outdoor Items
Before the storm comes, park your vehicle in a covered area and away from trees. Also, make sure to keep its petrol tank full in case you need to evacuate.
If you are in a flood-prone area, look for an alternative parking spot or storage facility for your cars, boats or caravans. In times of severe storm signals, put away or tie down large outdoor objects like chairs and umbrellas, too.
Storm winds can pick up these large items and cause property damage or injury. So, make sure to keep them somewhere safe.
3. Clear Blockages in Gutters, Pipes and Drains
After a storm, the last thing you want is to spend on costly repairs due to blocked gutters and water damage. So, clear drains and pipes of leaves and dirt as you prepare for storm season.
Try to clean gutters twice a year, or more frequently if your house roof is next to a tree. When cleaning, wear protective gear and use proper tools like a leaf blower, gutter cleaning kit and garden trowel.
Better yet, contact gutter and roof experts for assistance.
4. Check Your Roof for Repairs
While you’re cleaning up the gutter, you might want to consider inspecting the entire roof as well. Broken roof sheeting or displaced tiles can be blown away by wind gusts or cause leak problems.
Aside from the roof itself, its waterproof insulation membrane may be showing signs of wear and tear, too. So, have an expert help you spot signs of damage.
Then make sure to have everything fixed or replaced in time.
5. Prep Your Emergency Supply Kit
Having a bag of emergency essentials is a must when you prepare for storms or any natural disaster.
I suggest picking up one or two items when you can and keeping them in waterproof bags or containers. That way, you get to avoid people shopping at the last minute, long grocery queues or shops running out of supplies.
Then put your supplies in a safe and accessible storage place at home. Create a list of necessities if you want, and have the kids help you pack.
Here are a few things you can include:
- Fire and power sources: extra batteries, torch, matches/lighters, camping stove
- Food and kitchen tools: non-perishable food, bottled water, cutlery, can opener, knife, pet food
- Personal care: toiletries, spare clothes, blankets, nappies, garbage bags
- Gadgets: mobile phone, portable radio, chargers or power banks
- Documents and valuables: keys, IDs, insurance policies, small cash bills, credit cards, emergency contact
- First aid: wipes, ointment, essential medication, gauze pad, bandages, scissors
Check your medicine cabinet at home and make a smaller version of it for your emergency bag. As for your insurance policy, find time to review and update it if needed.
In case of severe weather damage, you might depend on it to cover all costs. So, make sure its coverage is comprehensive.
6. Create an Emergency Safety Plan
A storm can come at any time and day. And so, you must have an emergency plan in place in case not everyone is at home when it happens.
Your plan should identify your alternative shelter, meet-up place, safest room in the house, means of communication and emergency kit location. Discussing these with your family is the best way to minimise panic and misunderstandings.
Once you’ve created your emergency safety plan, make sure to review and update it each time there’s a storm coming.
Also, have you started saving for your emergency fund? Setting one up should help you manage the aftermath of bad weather, too.
7. Stay Tuned for Updates and Warnings
Conditions during a storm can quickly change from bad to worse. Even if you prepare for storms ahead of time, you still need real-time information to help you make quick and rational decisions.
Extreme weather disturbance can be worrying, and worries often affect our ability to respond to emergencies. Preparing for nature’s surprises is then our best defence to stay calm and protect our loved ones.