Wild storms and bushfires have already lashed some of Australia this (not yet summer) season. Apparently though, it’s just a foretaste of some wild weather to come as we head towards a long and volatile summer.
Of particular concern is the threat of a more active cyclone season in 2016-17, with the Bureau of Meteorology’s Climate Prediction Services Manager Dr Andrew Watkins warning that neutral to weak La Nina conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean will result in an average to above-average tropical cyclone season.
“This year we’re experiencing warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures around northern Australia, and this will help to fuel the tropical cyclone season ahead.” (Dr Andrew Watkins, BOM)
Last year was an incredibly quiet year in terms of cyclones, with a grand total of three clocking in as the lowest number of tropical cyclones on record.
Don’t leave older Aussies at the mercy of our volatile weather
Whatever it is we’re in for, be they cyclones, storms or bushfires, it pays to have our homes ready. But for older, less able-bodied people, preparing their property is not as easy to do.
Research by insurance company Apia found that less than half (49%) of over 50s living in at risk areas have done maintenance around their homes to prepare for the coming season.
They also reported that around a quarter (24%) of over 50s living in a risky area haven’t made any modifications to their homes to protect against summer storms and cyclones.
Apia spokeswoman Angela Wilkinson said these concerning statistics were, unfortunately, not unexpected.
“We know that some maintenance tasks around the home get more difficult or dangerous as you age, such as checking the roof tiles or clearing gutters, and some of these important pre-season tasks can get put to one side as a result,” she said.
“More than 1,500 older Australians are hospitalised each year after falling from a ladder around the home.”
Wilkson said people should think of their older family, friends and neighbours in the community, and help them in their bushfire planning and cyclone preparation.
“If you have an older neighbour who lives at home by themselves, or know of someone in the community who may need some assistance, knock on their door or give them a call to make sure they are prepared,” she said.
“It can be something as simple as offering to clear your neighbours’ gutters, or clearing some overhanging trees.”
Bushfire planning and cyclone preparation tips
Apia has provided some quick and easy emergency planning tips on how to prepare homes for bushfires or storms. We’ve also summarised the BOM cyclone preparation tips below.
Bushfire planning advice from Apia
- Cut back any overhanging trees or shrubs.
- Check the condition of your roof and replace any damaged or missing tiles.
- Remove leaves from the roof, gutters and downpipes and fit quality metal leaf guards where possible.
- Keep your lawn short and the backyard tidy.
- Store woodpiles and flammable materials covered and away from the house.
- Make sure hoses are in working order
Storm preparation advice from Apia
- Check gutters and downpipes – backed up gutters can send water flowing into the home during heavy rains.
- Check roof for damaged, loose tiles or raised corners of corrugated sheets – a roof in good repair is more likely to withstand high winds and keep water out.
- Trim overgrown tree branches. Check with the local council if you’re unsure about which trees / branches you can cut. Avoid doing this near power lines.
Cyclone preparation advice from BOM
The Bureau of Meteorology also offers an extensive list of cyclone preparation and safety tips, a few of which are summarised in our Canstar Cyclone Survival Checklist:
- Fit shutters or metal screens to all windows.
- Clear your property of loose material that could blow about and possibly cause injury or damage during extreme winds.
- Be aware of your nearest safe high ground.
- Park vehicles under solid shelter (hand brake on and in gear).
- Put wooden or plastic outdoor furniture in your pool or inside with other loose items.
- Close shutters or board-up/heavily tape all windows. Draw curtains and lock doors.
- Stay inside and shelter in the strongest part of the building.
- If the building starts to break up, protect yourself with mattresses, rugs, or blankets under a strong table or bench.
- Beware the calm eye. If the wind drops, don’t assume the cyclone is over; violent winds will soon resume from another direction. Wait for the official ‘all clear’.
- Don’t go outside until officially advised it is safe.
- Check for gas leaks. Don’t use electric appliances if wet.
- If you have to/have already evacuated, don’t return until advised.
- Heed all warnings and don’t go sightseeing. Check in on and help neighbours instead.
These are just some of the more crucial tips; for the BOM’s full list of cyclone preparation and safety tips, visit this page. We have summarised the BOM cyclone preparation advise
BOM also has a handy video guide to understanding different cyclone categories and their respective potentials for damage and destruction.
Protect your finances
Sometimes disasters can strike us no matter how much emergency planning we’ve done. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s why we all need insurance.
So, the best way to protect your finances from the volatile summer weather is by having an appropriate, up-to-date home and contents insurance policy. You can use our website to compare home insurance and ensure you’re getting value for money.
Ask your older neighbours if they have home and contents insurance. If they don’t, you might want to bring over your laptop sometime and show them the Canstar website: