Maintaining a home
How to protect your home from extreme weather
22 June 2023
Severe weather events are a natural part of in living in Australia – especially QLD. This means Aussie homes need to be resilient and withstand a variety of elements – from droughts and fires to cyclones, floods and storms. However, new research shows that between 2021 and 2022 extreme weather events cost every Australian household an average of $1,532.1
While it’s not possible to control wild weather, there are some ways you can prepare and protect your home. Of course, if you find yourself facing a storm or incoming bushfire, the safety of you and your loved ones should be the number one priority – so follow the advice of emergency services and be ready to evacuate if needed.
Check your home insurance coverage
First things first – check that your Home and Contents Insurance is sorted and that you understand your coverage. Knowing things like the sum insured for your building and contents and which valuables are listed on your policy can help you avoid being underinsured.
With Build it Back Better, if your home is damaged by an insured event and the assessed repair or rebuild costs are more than $50,000 or 10% of your sum insured – whichever is higher – you’ll be offered additional recommended resilience options to help protect against severe weather. This could be up to $5,000 - $10,000 depending on your level of cover. Conditions apply. Read the PDS for the full details.
Preparing for wild weather
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, cyclone season is usually between 1 November to 30 April.2 The hardest hit regions are north of Perth along WA and NT coasts, most of the QLD coast, and occasionally the far northern NSW coast. On average, cyclones occur about eight times a year – so it helps to know how to prepare before they make landfall.
Cyclones are characterised by strong winds and heavy rain. To help mitigate the risk of damage to your home ahead of cyclone season, consider taking the following steps:
- Make sure that the walls, roof and eaves of your home are secure.
- Trim treetops and branches clear of your home – but make sure to get council permission first.
- Fit shutters or metal screens to all glass areas.
For additional tips, check out our essential cyclone checklist.
A new kitchen can give your home a huge facelift. But if you're near the Queensland coast the best looking reno is getting your home ready for cyclones.
When it gets windy the repeated stress on roofing screws can rip it straight off like a tin of sardines. And not all screws are created equal so it's important to insist your roofer know the correct wind classification and uses the correct roof screws washers and batten spacings for the location of your home.
As always make sure they're a licensed roofer and check their credentials.
A great way to protect your windows from flying debris is to use cyclo mesh screens. When placed on reinforced balustrades away from the windows they can offer extra protection.
And don't just install them on the side of your house facing the ocean. Flying objects can hit from any direction.
When the wind kicks up your outdoor electrical appliances can too. It's important to make sure they're safely secured.
There's also a range of smaller things you can do to make a big difference.
So wherever you live make resilience your next renovation.
Storms are a common occurrence in Australia, especially during summer. And while not usually as powerful as cyclones, storms can also lead to flash flooding, hail and lightning – which can cause significant damage to Aussie properties.
Preparing for a severe storm is similar to preparing for a cyclone:
- Clear your gutters and downpipes, and consider installing steel mesh gutter guards.
- Make sure your roof has no damaged or loose tiles, or raised corners of corrugated sheets.
- As the storm approaches, secure any outdoor items, such as furniture and pot plants, or take them inside if possible.
Check out our essential storm checklist for more tips.
A fresh coat of paint can help you get ready for sale. But with Queensland's extreme weather the best upgrade is to get your home ready for storms.
One cause of water ingress, mold and all sorts of strife is the roof over your head.
The first thing you should do is get someone out to inspect your roof and maintain any flashing or seals. But you don't want to use any old cowboy.
Yeah, thanks Renee. Make sure they're a licensed roofer and check their credentials.
In a heavy storm leaves can cause gutters and downpipes to back up into water leaks into the house. You could regularly clean out your gutters and downpipes by hand or simply have a steel mesh gutter guard installed.
And it's not just your house that needs protection. A carport or garage away from big trees will help protect your ride from hail and fallen branches.
Plus there's a bunch of things you can do around the house to help you get ready for the storm.
So wherever you live, make resilience your next renovation.
Flooding is often the result of heavy rain, riverine flooding or movements of the sea following a storm surge. You may even experience flooding if you don’t live in a flood prone area – leaks from pipes or common household appliances can also cause water damage. However, not all insurance products cover for every cause of flooding, so be sure to check what your home is and isn’t covered for.
Here are some ways to prepare your home for a potential flood:
- Consider raising power outlets above previous flood levels.
- Keep poisons and chemicals in a high point in your home.
- Have sandbags on hand for covering indoor drains, which can stop sewage backwash.
Our essential flood checklist has some further tips to help you prepare.
A new bathroom can really help a house scrub up nicely, but if you prefer to keep the water in the bath the best reno is to get your home ready for floods.
If your electrical wires are low downstairs a flooded ground floor can knock the rest of your house's power out days after the flood has passed.
Raising power points above the high water mark can help prevent this. Talk to your electrician about rewiring so you can keep living in your home after an event.
JT leave it to the professionals.
There's also a range of smaller things you can do to make a big difference.
While floods can be destructive, one of the biggest causes of water damage is flooding from internal legs. Make sure you regularly check your plumbing and if you do spot a leak no matter how small call a licensed plumber straight away.
A small fix now can stop big problems later.
So wherever you live make resilience your next renovation.
While bushfires can be devastating for Aussie homes, they are integral to our landscape and many of our native plant life need them to regenerate.
Bushfires can happen at any time of the year. However, there are peak bushfire periods around the country depending on climate and weather conditions – such as spring to mid-summer for NSW and Southern QLD, and winter to spring for north WA and NT.
Consider these tips to protect your home from a fire:
- Keep your lawn short and backyard free from build-up of flammable materials.
- Consider purchasing a portable pump to use from your water tank or swimming pool.
- Think about installing ember guards on your roof and ember screens for your windows.
For additional ways to prepare, check out our essential bushfire checklist.
A new deck can bring a whole new meaning to your outdoor space, but an even better reno is getting your home ready for bushfires.
During an amber attack it's not just leaves or sticks in the gutter that can catch fire. Amber's blown at high speeds can fly up under the eaves of your roof and start a fire in your ceiling.
A great way to prevent this is to install ember resistant steel mesh gutter guards with a high bush fire attack level or bow rating.
There's a lot to consider so we'll throw some links down below.
Ember screens work on a similar principle keeping the embers away from openings in the house.
During a bushfire homes can become disconnected from town water and the drinking water can be contaminated for days.
Installing a dual water tank on site can provide backup water to fight a fire and drinking water in the days it takes to restore water.
And if you install a fire hose outlet at the base firefighters can hook into your tank which could help give your house a fighting chance.
Check with your local fire and rescue to see which fitting is best for them.
There's also a range of smaller things you can do to make a big difference so wherever you live make resilience your next renovation.
You might be surprised to learn that hundreds of earthquakes occur beneath our feet every year. While most are too small to feel, Australia records at least one magnitude five earthquake each year – and such earthquakes are capable of causing damage to Aussie homes.
The location and time of earthquakes are difficult to predict – so it’s unlikely you’ll receive a warning before the earthquake strikes. But there are some general steps you can take to reduce the risk of damage:
- Secure freestanding furniture – such as bookshelves and filing cabinets – to the walls.
- Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to stop contents from spilling out.
- Secure hot water tanks to nearby walls.
Build a wild weather emergency kit
A disaster – such as a fire or severe storm – may impact your access to power, gas, food and clean water. One way to prepare is to build a home emergency kit with essential items such as the following:
- Water – four litres per person per day and enough for several days.
- Non-perishable food items – such as protein bars and ready-to-eat canned fruit and veg – and a can opener.
- A battery powered radio and satellite phone – and plenty of spare batteries.
- A first aid kit, painkillers, diarrhea tablets and hydration supplements.
- Prescription medicine and prescription eyeglasses – if required.
- Personal hygiene products and feminine supplies.
- Reliable, warm clothing, blankets and sturdy footwear.
- Important documents – such as passports and birth certificates – kept in a waterproof, portable container.
- Emergency tools and equipment – like a plier, wrench and scissors.
- Flashlight and whistle for attracting attention.
In case you need to evacuate quickly, keep your home kit in a designated, easily accessible spot – such as a storage cupboard or bedroom close to the front door.
And don’t forget to regularly maintain and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Plan for your pets
When building your home emergency kit, consider making one for your furry family members – pack them extra food, water and medications to last a week, and either a carrier or lead to keep them close. It’s also important they wear a collar with the correct information so they can find their way back to you.
When netball season ends storm season begins and Charlie and I have teamed up with Suncorp to help you prepare.
When your pet is the center of your life the best thing you could do to defend them is to make sure their vaccinations and microchip information are up to date.
It's also important that they're wearing a collar with the correct contact information so they can find their way back to you.
When storm season gets serious you might need to evacuate. So you can act quickly pack a pet emergency kit with enough food and drink to last for at least a week. And your emergency kit is always here if you need.
Always have a plan for your pets. Arrange a place outside your local area to look after them in an emergency.
This is especially important if you've got big animals. Your big pets won't fit in the car with you so if you can, evacuate them a few days earlier and if you can't take them leave a gate open to make sure they can evacuate when you do.
You'd never step onto the court for a big game without a bit of practice. Train your pets to get used to carriers, harnesses and car rides so that when it comes time to evacuate they're as prepared as you are.
Just a few ways you can prepare your pets for storm season, which Suncorp have helped Queenslanders do for over 100 years.
Now check out how else you can get storm season ready by visiting our storm hub.
What to do after wild weather
Once the weather has subsided and it’s safe to do so, assess the damage around your home. Take photos of the impacted areas, gather any supporting documents like receipts and valuation reports and make a claim online or via the Suncorp Insurance App as soon as possible. The sooner you lodge your claim, the sooner we can assist with your home’s repairs.
Weather in Australia may be unpredictable, but your home’s weather protection doesn’t need to be. Understand the level of risk you’re exposed to and take the necessary steps so your home has the best chance of handling it all – from high winds, to flooding and fire.
- Common causes of water damage
- Supporting customers through severe weather recovery
- Hazards and risks in the home
This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.