The best time to prepare for a wet weather event is before dark clouds begin to gather.
The Queensland Government has suggested that every household have an up-to-date emergency plan and emergency kit.
Here’s what to have on hand in case of a flood emergency.
What do you pack in an emergency kit?
Emergency kits should cover at least three days of basic supplies for each person in your household, as well as essentials in the event of a power outage or evacuation, according to the Queensland Government. These include:
- Drinking water: for three days of water, you must carry at least 10 liters of water per person
- Food: dried, canned or other non-perishable items, as well as utensils and a can opener
- Important medications: in addition to any prescribed medication, this includes dosing measures such as syringes, spare batteries for hearing aids, spare medic-alert bracelets or necklaces, and prescription glasses
- Radio: A battery-powered or solar-powered radio with the frequencies of ABC radio and other local services clearly marked
- Light: In addition to a battery-operated waterproof torch, consider alternatives such as a hand-crank torch, glow sticks, or candles with waterproof matches.
- Spare batteries, chargers or power banks for all devices
- First aid kit and guide
- Essential documents: In addition to printing hard copies, consider including backup copies of proof of identity, prescriptions, insurance details and emergency contact details on a USB stick or hard drive portable
- Bedding: Camping mattresses and sleeping bags
- Clothing suitable for flood conditions such as protective shoes, thick gloves and rain jackets
- Toiletries including soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, tissues, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and sanitary ware
- Cash: cash for necessities in case bank cards don’t work
All of these items should be stored in waterproof bags.
Everyone in your household should know where to access your emergency kit and it should be checked at least once a year.
Every household is unique, and it’s important to be aware of things yours might need, such as baby supplies, mobility aids, comforting toys for children, and pet supplies.
How to prepare your home for flooding
The best way to prepare your home for a flood is to perform general maintenance which can minimize the risk of damage.
This includes checking around your property for overhanging branches, clogged gutters, clogged drains, broken roof tiles, and other minor damage that could let water in.
Check your home, contents and auto insurance to make sure it’s up to date and you’re covered.
Learn more about checking your insurance before a flood here.
You can also begin to identify areas of the house that could benefit from sandbags.
If you think your house could be flooded, move all poisons to a place well above ground level.
Valuables should also be moved to higher ground.
How to use sandbags? Where can I find them?
Sandbags will not completely stop floodwaters, but can be used to reduce the impact of flooding on your home or business.
They are often made available by municipalities and emergency organisations.
For example, Brisbane City Council offers pre-filled sandbags from September to March and also when extreme weather conditions are forecast.
Each sandbag weighs 18 to 20 kilograms, so it’s important to check your vehicle’s weight restrictions and bring a friend if you need a helping hand lifting heavy objects.
If stored in a cool, sheltered place, sandbags can last up to 12 months before use.
Knowing how to use sandbags can be tricky, so it’s worth keeping these tips in mind:
- Sandbags are not waterproof on their own and should be stacked with plastic sheeting
- Choose an area with flat ground to stack the sandbags
- Stagger sandbags in a pattern similar to a brick wall while stacking them to improve results
- If you need to build a longer wall, build it in a crescent shape towards the water
- Place sandbags over sinks and drains where water can back up during flooding
- Sandbags must be discarded at Brisbane City Council Transfer Stations
- Stormwater often contains contaminants. Handle wet sandbags as if they were contaminated, use gloves and boots, and treat cuts with an antiseptic
Whether weather events are current or not, it is important to periodically check that your disaster plans are in line with the latest official advice. You can subscribe to alerts from the Bureau of Meteorology.
You can check your flood risk using your local council’s flood awareness maps.