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26 things you need to do ahead of severe storms

Queenslanders are used to extreme weather – with flash flooding, mini-twisters and large hail rocking southern parts of the state this week.

But not everyone may be ready for the oncoming storms.

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

Dr Barbara Ryan, a disaster and emergency communications researcher, said 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.

“Yet many communities mostly remain unprepared for the impact of natural hazards, even in areas at high risk of storms like all of us 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.”

Dr Ryan joined forces with the University of Southern Queensland statistician Dr Rachel King to compile a list split into four key themes: getting ready to keep yourself safe, getting your house ready, getting ready to evacuate if the worst happens, and preparation for what happens after the storm when there is no power and roads could be blocked for a while.

The list was refined and tested in a series interviews with locals in a storm-susceptible communities in the Toowoomba region.

“Based on data from a number of households in 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 said.

“A checklist for getting ready works in with our in-built attraction to achieving goals – and this is the reason the State Emergency Service, the Red Cross, and your insurance company will have a list of things to do on their websites.

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

  • Recognise that everyone in Queensland is at risk of being impacted by wild storms.
  • Download the Get Prepared App or print off the Get Prepared guide from the Red Cross website. 
  • Do as much as you can from the app or the guide this weekend – don’t wait.”


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 prepare 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 ensure 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…)

  12. Do you clear leaves and grass from around the house? 
  13. Do you clear gutters? 
  14. Do you cut back trees near the house? 
  15. Do you check your roof to make sure it is in good condition? 
  16. Do you bring furniture and other loose items inside on bad days? 
  17. Do you install or check protective covers for windows? 

    Preparation for leaving 

  18. Do you arrange a safe evacuation place for family? 
  19. Do you arrange a safe evacuation place for pets? 
  20. Do you arrange a safe evacuation place for large animals/livestock? 
  21. Do you plot evacuation routes? 
  22. Do you pack supplies for pets/livestock ready to go?
  23. Do you pack valuables and overnight bag ready to go? 

    Preparation for post-impact
  24. Do you make sure you have enough water for 3 days? 
  25. Do you make sure you have enough food for 3 days? 
  26. Do you organise a secondary power?
Woman smiling
Disaster and emergency communications researcher Dr Barbara Ryan.