If you know a storm is on its way, there are a few simple things you should do to protect yourself and your property. The State Emergency Service advises that you should:
Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.
Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.
Keep at least 8 metres away from fallen power lines or objects that may be energised, such as fences.
Trees that have been damaged by fire are likely to be more unstable and more likely to fall.
Report fallen power lines to either Ausgrid (131 388), Endeavour Energy (131 003), Essential Energy (132 080) or Evoenergy (131 093) as shown on your power bill.
Stay vigilant and monitor conditions. Note that the landscape may have changed following bushfires.
For emergency help in floods and storms in Australia, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500. In New Zealand, contact your local civil defence unit, which is responsible for help during national disasters including severe weather events.
Staying safe when a storm hits
Storms can occur year-round and can often crop up with little warning. Below are some of the key tips for staying safe when a thunderstorm hits. According to the BOM:
If you're swimming or surfing, leave the water immediately
Seek shelter in a 'hard-top' (metal-bodied) vehicle or solid building
Shelter away from windows, doors and skylights
Avoid sheltering under trees. If you are in an open area, crouch in a hollow (alone with your feet together) and avoid being the highest object in the vicinity
If powerlines are damaged by the storm, stay far away from them.
Stay familiar with the updates from BOM and WeatherWatch which give regular updates on weather conditions
Call 000 (AUS) or 111 (NZ) if your life is in danger. For non-life-threatening storm damage, call the SES on 132 500 in Australia or your local civil defence unit in New Zealand.
If you're caught outside in a bad storm, try not to panic. Sonder members can "swipe for help" for the best course of action and immediate assistance.
The after-effects of storms can affect your day-to-day activities and getting around. Fallen trees and flooding are the most common outcomes of stormy weather. Do not walk, drive or swim in floodwater.
Flood waters can appear calm and shallow but may hide strong currents beneath the surface. These waters can also be contaminated with pollution, sewage or debris from the flood which could cause injury. According to the BOM, most flood deaths and injuries are preventable.
Image Credit: NSW SES
Sea Smart Suggestions
Australia and New Zealand are famous for their beautiful beaches, but the sea often has large swells, rips and strong currents. These can be influenced and disrupted by storms, wind patterns and other weather activity. You may not be able to spot these changes from the beach and the water may appear calm.
Swimmers, surfers, fishermen and walkers should all take the time to understand the hazardous surf warning systems before heading out. If conditions are poor, it can make rescue efforts difficult.
Changing wind conditions can also cause marine stingers or jellyfish numbers to increase, so keep an eye out for signage or jellyfish washed ashore.
If the beach is patrolled by lifeguards, they might mark out areas that are unsafe to enter. There may also be red and yellow flags which have been recognised as the safest areas to swim or surf - look out for them. Ask a lifeguard for help and advice if you need it.
Now you know the basic precautions to take during wild weather, you can enjoy the natural beauty of Australia and New Zealand - safely.