10 things to do before the storm season

Oct 18, 2021

 

10 things to do before the storm season.  The Severe Weather forecast for the coming wet season (2021-2022) has been released by the Bureau of Meteorology with the prediction of an early wet season. 

The forecast also expects a La Nina (wetter than usual on east coast) season. 

There are some things you should do before the storm season to be prepared in case something should go wrong.

  1.  Change wiper blades
  2.  Check tyre tread
  3.  Clean out roof gutters and downpipes
  4.  Clean out surface drains
  5.  Check your storm season kit
  6.  Get the roof checked
  7.  Review your emergency plans
  8. Educate family on emergency plans
  9.  Know your area 
  10. Clean up the yard 

 Storms, tornadoes and cyclones affect the whole country to different levels.  Just because you don’t live in the tropics doesn’t mean you won’t get affected by a severe thunderstorm.

 

 1. Change wiper blades

We go all year without using our windscreen wipers and then in the first big deluge, we discover they are old and cracked. 

Visibility is hampered by smears across the windscreen.  Rain makes visibility hard enough without wipers that don’t work. 

 

 

 

 

Emergency Kit

 

Don’t forget the wiper on the back window if you have one.

If you don’t know how to change your wiper blades ask at the local car accessory shop and most offer to change them for you.

2. Check tyre tread

How much traction do you have on the road?  Wet roads are slippery.  Especially with the first couple of showers as the oil mixes with the grime and the water making the surface slippery. 

Having good tyre tread the water is pushed out from under the tyre to increase contact with the road.

Bald tyres just slip on the wet surface which can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre too.

 A few other things you can do to prevent accidents in the wet are

  • Slow down in reduced visibility, your braking distance will be longer so you need more distance to brake at higher speeds.
  • Increase the distance between yourself and the car in front to allow for extra stopping distance.
  • If you have to go too slow pullover.  There will be those who are still speeding and they won’t see you and will run into you.
  • Pullover in a safe area in heavy rain or limited visibility.  Don’t park on the road as you will be hit.
  • Put on your headlights so people can see you, even during the day.

 

 

3. Clean up roof gutters and downpipes

During heavy rain you need all the drainage you can get.  If the gutters and downpipes are full of leaves, tennis balls etc the water can’t get away so it will overflow back into the roof cavity and flood your home from above.

 If the downpipes go underground, check they are not blocked by tree roots or the like.  Ideally, you should have an overflow at the base of the downpipe to prevent excess water backing up into the guttering.

 In really heavy rains your roof gutters and downpipes will not handle it as they are usually designed for average rainfall like a 50-year event.  The angle of the roof, size of the guttering and number of downpipes all have a factor in how fast your roof drains.

 Another problem I have seen over the decades with guttering involves Box gutters.  Two roofs slope down toward the one gutter in the middle.  This gutter can either have rust holes or can’t handle the excess water from 2 roofs in heavy rain and flows over into the roof cavity.

   

 

 

4. Clean out surface drains

To prevent water from entering your home as much as possible you want the water to drain away freely.  This includes the roadside guttering. 

Do you have a pile of dirt and lawn clippings blocking your drainage?  Does your neighbour? 

 Some local authorities may clean out roadside gutters occasionally unless someone has parked their car in the way.

 If you are on a hill or slope are there any drains above you that try to prevent water from running down into your property. 

Too much water running down a hill can cause landslips.

 

 

Emergency Kit

 

5. Check your storm season kit

Why do I keep telling you to check your emergency kit?  Wet season events whether they are local or in a different area of the state can affect food and supplies getting to the shops. 

You must be able to look after yourself for at least 3 to 7 days. 

 If there are no supplies in the shops the emergency services won’t have enough to supply the whole town assuming they have any to start with.

 Check your kit for-

  • Any items out of date
  • Missing items or damaged items
  • Are all items on the checklist in the kit

   Download your free Emergency kit checklist and start preparing.

 

6. Have your roof checked

Last wet season you had a drip in the kitchen and you said I must get that fixed.  Then the dry season came and it slipped your mind.  Or you know the roof has more holes than Swiss cheese but you can’t afford to fix it, so outcomes another box of silicone.

 A leaking roof can cause

  • Flooding in the roof and house
  • Electrical shorts or shocks
  • Mould and rot to develop
  • Weakens the roof structure over time with rot and in a storm or cyclone, there goes the roof.

 Temporary fixes like tarpaulins and silicone only reduce the problem.  Tarpaulins break down after a few months on the roof and most emergency services won’t keep coming out to replace them.

 Apart from rust and damage another leading cause of roof leaks and problems is loose roof screws.  The sheeting is not held down firmly and water can seep in around the screw.

 Flat roofs have poor drainage and water can bank up flowing into the ceiling space.  The modern flat roof with a waterproof membrane can leak if the membrane is cracked or has a hole in it.

7.  Review your emergency plan

What has changed since the last wet season?  Have you moved? Carried out renovations to the house?  Got married to someone with 2 kids? 

What do you have to do to update your emergency plan before the next big wet season event (flood, cyclone, tornado)?  Check your list of valuables and take photos of your property before the event for insurance purposes.

 Plans change it may not even be a change in your home.  The local council have changed the roads, evacuation points, road works has blocked your escape route.

If you don’t have a plan I have created this workbook to help you develop one.  You can purchase the Disaster Plan Workbook for Families” here.  

 

 

 

hoto:  Ingham Floods, North Queensland 2009

8. Educate your family

If your emergency kit and plan are up to date it’s time to refresh your family on the location and plan.  At the very least do it when the season starts in your area. 

Cyclones give you some warning but severe thunderstorms, flash flooding and tornadoes have happened in minutes.

9.  Know your area

Especially if you are new to the area.

 To create a workable emergency plan you will need to know your area.  You can research the information at –

  • Local council websites
  • Ask neighbours or locals
  • Local emergency services
  • Local newspaper archives
  • Local disaster plans for evacuation routes, centres, risks etc

 

10. Clean up your yard

Your plans, kit and house are in order now focus on the yard.  Tidy up anything that can blow away.  It doesn’t take much wind to send your trampoline down the street. 

Some items to clean up before the storm season hits are-

  • Overhanging tree branches
  • Dead or rotten trees that can fall over
  • Rubbish stacked in the corner waiting for a dump trip
  • Unfinished projects
  • Other lose items such as kids toys.

 Don’t do any work around your incoming power lines.  If trees are overhanging your power lines call your energy provider.

Key points

There is always a bit of panic running around collecting things when you get a storm/cyclone warning but being prepared before the season gives you some peace of mind.

 The more you are prepared the less likely you are to have multiple problems requiring emergency services and other people to fix them.  During a big event, they may not be available to help you.

 Further reading

Australian Tropical Cyclone Outlook for 2021 to 2022

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/cyclones/australia/

 Climate outlooks—weeks, months and seasons

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/overview/summary

 La Niña ALERT; tropical Pacific continues to cool

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

 

 

 

 

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