As summer kisses goodbye, the onset of Australia’s wet season has become more noticeable. Since late February, the country’s been experiencing widespread flooding. Unfortunately, these aren’t just regular floods. These are floods with thunderstorms and rainfall rates of about 26 mm in just 30 minutes.

Australia typically experiences flooding along rivers after a downpour. But, its effects are often worsened by the overflow of drainage systems in urban areas. With the frequency of its occurrence, New South Wales has now subjected approximately 500 000 people to evacuation

To keep yourself and your loved ones safe in cases of flooding, familiarise yourself with these flooding emergency steps.

Before a flood

If your area is prone to flooding, make sure to follow these emergency tips before a flood happens:

  1. Identify risks in your area by contacting your local council about flood history and familiarise yourself with natural signs of flooding.
  2. Prepare a home emergency plan. 
  3. Assemble an emergency kit. Visit the NSW SES website for emergency plan templates.
  4. Prepare a checklist of essential items and appliances that must be turned off during a flood.
  5. Know who to call. For flood emergency help, call the NSW SES on 132 500. For life-threatening situations, dial 000 (triple zero).
  6. Know where to go. These include evacuation centres and places of relatives or friends which aren’t prone to flooding. 
  7. Listen to the radio for updates.
  8. Check your insurance coverage.

During a flood

If your area’s experiencing slow-onset flooding,  your local councils would usually issue a Flood Warning first. In this case, remember these flooding emergency steps:

  1. Never travel through floodwater, may it be driving, riding, or walking.
  2. Place possessions, important documents, and electrical items on benches, tables, or high ground.
  3. Relocate waste containers and other hazardous materials above floor level.
  4. Follow your Home FloodSafe Plan.
  5. Keep listening to your local radio station for information, updates, and advice. 
  1. Keep in contact with your neighbours.
  2. Be prepared to evacuate if advised by emergency services.
  3. Act early as roads may become congested or closed.

Once an Evacuation Warning or Order is issued, do the following:

  1. Locate valuables and essential documents.
  2. Turn off the electricity and gas at the mains before you leave.
  3. Take your pets with you.
  4. Never enter or travel through floodwater.
  5. Keep listening to your local radio station.
  6. Follow all instructions given to you by the emergency services.

During a flash flood

If you are trapped, do not attempt to travel through floodwater. Instead, seek refuge in the highest part of a sturdy building and call ‘000’ (triple zero).

After a flood

Before going back, wait for the ‘All Clear’ from NSW SES. Upon returning to your properties:

  1. Assess the structural stability of your property before moving anything. Check your windows, walls, and roofs. Be careful of contaminants like asbestos. 
  2. Before going inside, double-check if both electricity and gas are turned off. 
  3. In cases of power points, electrical equipment, appliances or electrical hot water systems exposed to floodwater, have a qualified electrician to perform inspections.
  4. Wear suitable protective clothing, including boots and gloves, when cleaning up.
  5. Be aware of any hazards.
  6. Never eat food contaminated by floodwater.
  7. Only use clean utensils and personal items.
  8. Have a supply of fresh drinking water.
  9. You may also hire rubbish removal companies to remove construction debris safely.

Let’s remain vigilant. Religiously follow these steps, and let’s get through this difficult time together.

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