There are many things you can do to reduce your chances of becoming a victim during a disaster.
Taking some simple precautions now before the onset of any natural hazard will help protect you, your family and your property.
Find out what can happen to you
Check with your Local Disaster Management Group or the council on potential hazards in your area.
Find out the following:
- What are the threats? For example, Flooding, Bushfire
- Is your house in a flood or storm tide zone? If so, how high an event above Australian Height Datum (AHD) would threaten your house? How high is your floor level above AHD?
- Read material from the council on what action to take before, during and after a disaster.
- Undertake a first aid course.
- Teach yourself, and responsible family members, how to turn off the electricity, water and gas supplies to your house.
- Find out about disaster arrangements at work, and your children's school, kindergarten or day care centre.
- Find out about what to do with your pets during and after a disaster.
Give yourself peace of mind
- Find out what types of insurance policies are available to you. Is flood insurance available in your area?
- Are you adequately insured for rebuilding and replacing contents to a level at least equal to your living standards prior to an event? Are you insured to cover current value or replacement cost?
- Update your contents inventory regularly. It helps to take photos and video footage of items. Ensure valuations are up to date including home improvements.
- Make two photocopies of vital documents. Keep one copy in a safe place in a watertight container and give the second copy to trusted relatives or friends who do not live in the area. Documents should include birth and marriage certificates, tax records, credit card details, financial records, wills and trusts.
Create a family disaster plan
- Meet with your family and explain the need for a family disaster plan. Explain the likely threats.
- Explain to each family member what he or she should do during a disaster event.
- As a family, locate a safe place in your house to shelter for each type of hazard.
- Designate a friend or relative's house as an alternative shelter.
- Arrange for an out of town relative or friend to be your family contact point. This is the person to contact with information on how you have fared during the disaster. This person will then inform others.
- Produce checklists of actions to take in preparation for specific disaster events.
- Clearly display emergency telephone numbers near the phone. Teach children to ring 000 in an emergency.
- Create an emergency kit.
Educate your children
- Tell children a disaster is something that could hurt people, cause damage, or cut things off such as electricity, water and telephones. Explain nature sometimes provides too much of a good thing such as rain, wind and fire.
- Give examples of disasters that could happen. Talking with them ahead of time will reduce the fear and anxiety when an event does occur.
- Teach your children how to ring 000 in a life threatening emergency or when parents are incapacitated.
- Teach your children to call the family contact if they become separated during a disaster.
Remember your pets
- Think about moving your pets to friends or relatives who are in a safe area.
- If your pet is on medication ensure you have an adequate supply.
- Have your pet wear an identification tag listing your name, address and telephone number.
- In your family emergency kit, have extra supplies of pet food.
- Consider a muzzle for your dog because the stress of a disaster event may lead some normally placid animals to become aggressive.
- Have recent photos of pets available to help with identification if you become separated from them.
- If you have to leave pets behind when you evacuate consider the following:
- Place each pet in a separate room. Even pets that normally get on well together may become aggressive towards each other under the stress. Do not tie them up.
- Small rooms such as toilets and bathrooms are most appropriate.
- Leave two or three days of dry food and water in sturdy containers.
- A tap left slowly dripping can replenish water supplies in a container and large dogs may be able to drink from a partially filled bathtub.