What to Do in the Event of a Tropical Cyclone

What to Do in the Event of a Tropical Cyclone
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Storm season is pretty hectic in Australia. And that increases ten-fold if you live in a cyclone-prone area.

Many areas of far North Queensland (FNQ), the Northern Territory and Western Australia are on cyclone alert during the summer months. Most recently, FNQ has been put on alert for a tropical cyclone forming off the coast early this week.

This definitely won’t be the last cyclone Australia endures, so what are some things you can do to prepare?

Before a cyclone

If you get wind of a tropical cyclone, your first step should be to keep an eye on updates. The Bureau of Meteorology is a good website for this.

ABC Emergency recommends you implement a cyclone plan and make sure everyone in your family is across it. Know where to go if your house is compromised and make sure your home and contents are insured for storm surge, flooding and cyclone damage.

Check for any loose tiles or screws on the roof and make sure your windows can be locked. It’s advised you clean your gutters and trim any overhanging trees or branches around your house well in advance of storm season.

Don’t forget your pets! Decide where they will shelter during a cyclone and where you will leave them if you need to evacuate (some emergency shelters don’t allow pets). If they’re coming with you make sure they have adequate food and supplies in your emergency kit.

Speaking of, the Red Cross recommends you have an emergency kit that includes:

  • A battery-powered radio
  • Important documents (such as drivers licence, passport, birth certificates, insurance documents etc.)
  • Mobile phone
  • Bottled water – at least 3L per person per day.
  • Torch
  • Chargers and batteries
  • Money
  • Medicine and first aid supplies
  • Toiletries
  • Protective clothing
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Non-perishable food
  • Any essentials for pets

Secure all items in your yard along with vehicles and make sure all windows are securely closed. If you can’t properly close windows, packing tape can be used in a cross style to hold broken glass in place.

During a cyclone

If you’re at home when a cyclone hits this is what ABC Emergency recommends:

  • Turn off all electricity, gas and water, unplug all appliances.
  • Keep your emergency kit close at hand.
  • Bring your family into the strongest part of the house.
  • Keep listening to the radio for cyclone updates.
  • If the building begins to break up, shelter under a strong table, bench or heavy mattress.
  • Beware the calm eye of the cyclone: stay inside until told it is safe to go outside.
  • The eye may have light winds and fine weather, or severe gusts of wind may continue.
  • The eye is surrounded by a dense ring of cloud known as the eye wall, which is the most dangerous part of the cyclone with the strongest winds and heaviest rainfall.

If an evacuation order is given you should follow all its directions and act immediately. If you happen to be driving when a cyclone hits park in an area free of trees, powerlines and watercourses – and stay inside your car.

And remember, once the cyclone has passed, not to approach any floodwaters, fallen powerlines or impacted structures.

Tropical cyclones are some of the most severe natural disasters we experience here in Australia so it’s important to follow all the official advice and prepare as much as possible in advance.

Side note: did you know Australia’s cyclone names are chosen from an alphabetical list suggested by the public? That’s right; you too could name a cyclone one day.

This article has been updated since its original publication.

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