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Maintaining a home

How to protect your home from wild weather

15 January 2019

When you live in Australia – and especially Queensland - the question of whether you’ll experience wild weather isn't 'if?', it's 'when?'. Due to the size of the sunshine state, the climate is varied and weather patterns often fluctuate between extremes: from drought and fires to cyclones, floods and storms.

As the shift in weather conditions continues to affect Australia, it’s unlikely that these types of weather events will ease up. Increased temperatures are already being noted by the Bureau of Meteorology; between 2017-18, Queensland had its second-warmest summer on record1. It’s difficult (well, impossible) to control wild weather, but you can take steps to protect your home and ensure that you and your loved ones are safe by preparing well in advance. These steps include:

  • Understanding your risk, and how to manage it – before, during and after the weather event
  • Making sure your home is resilient, using the tips highlighted in this article
  • Keeping important documents and valuables safe, and
  • Having adequate home insurance to cover loss or damage to your home, and understand what is and isn’t covered.

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Above all of the guidelines in this article, of course, should be your own personal safety. As important as it is to prepare your home for potential wild weather, if you find yourself in the middle of some kind of storm, the safety of you and your loved ones should be the number one priority. That may mean having to evacuate your property and leave behind personal belongings, which can be difficult to do.

Cyclones

Cyclones can be devastating, but they’re also a part of life in Queensland. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, on average ‘about three tropical cyclones directly approach[ed] the Queensland coast’2 between November and May and, since 2015, 17 severe cyclones have made landfall. Cyclones are characterised by strong winds and heavy rain. You can take steps to mitigate the risk of cyclone damage and increase protection to your home by:

  • Checking with your local council if your home meets cyclone building standards
  • Making sure the structural elements of your home (walls, roof and eves) are secure
  • Fitting shutters or metal screens to any windows or areas of glass, and
  • Keeping treetops or branches clear of your home.

At Suncorp, we’ve developed Protecting the North and the Cyclone Resilience Benefit to work towards reducing risk and the cost of insurance premiums in communities most likely to be affected by a cyclone.

Floods

Geoscience Australia defines floods simply as ‘water where it is not wanted’3. This could be a result of heavy rain, riverine flooding or the sea if you live in a coastal area (note: not all insurance products will cover you for every cause of flooding, so it’s important to check what you are and aren’t covered for). You may even experience flooding if you don’t live in a flood-prone area – some of our most common household appliances and pipes can cause water damage.

Each year, flooding causes millions of dollars worth of damage in Queensland. Knowing how to prepare, and what do to during and after a flood, can help to keep you safe. Make sure you:

  • Store any poisons or chemicals above ground level and away from children 
  • Identify important documents and valuables, keeping them in watertight containers or bags, and
  • Consider raising power outlets above previous flood levels.

For more information, download our Must-Have Flood Checklist.

Storms

Throughout Australia storms are a common occurrence, especially during the summer. Did you know that near Darwin, you can hear thunder on approximately 80 days each year?4 When storms become severe, they can be destructive – sometimes causing flash flooding, hail, high winds, lightning and tornadoes.

Preparing for a severe storm is similar to preparing for a cyclone, and you can also:

  • Know what room in your house will provide the best shelter if evacuation isn’t possible
  • Keep gutters and downpipes clear from any blockages
  • Keep a battery-operated torch and radio nearby, and
  • Prepare a kit with non-perishable food, a can opener, water, first aid essentials and blankets.

Be sure to listen for warnings from the local authorities and keep an eye on the weather forecast. Things can change, but if you’re prepared for the worst you’ll have the best chance of protecting yourself, your family, your pets and home.

Fires

Fire has been a feature of the Australian landscape since well before humans started developing on the land, and some plant life, such as eucalypts, need it to regenerate. The bushfire season in Queensland can extend from July through to February, depending on the climate and weather conditions. However, it doesn’t matter whether you live in the bush or the city, fires can affect anyone. To prepare for fire, it’s essential that you:

  • Have an evacuation plan
  • Keep flammable materials away from your house, and
  • Maintain your garden and lawn, keeping them tidy to avoid the build up of flammable debris like dry leaves, which can help spread a fire.

It’s important to plan for fire thoroughly, as risk to your property may also present a risk to your neighbour’s property.

Resources to help you manage your risk

To help you determine and manage your risk, there are a number of essential preparation checklists that you can download:

In Australia, we’re not known for our reliable and mild weather. You might experience blue skies one moment, and hail and thunder the next. To plan and prepare for the next wild weather event, it’s important to understand the level of risk you’re exposed to and make sure your home can handle anything - from high winds, to flooding and fire.

Sources

1Source: BOM

2Source: ABS

3Source: Suncorp

4Source: ABS

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We do not insure you for bushfire, storm, flood or tsunami in the first 72 hours of your policy. Very limited exceptions apply. Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Information provided is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision regarding this product.