Wild weather warning

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a summer of wet and wild weather for most of Queensland, so now is the time to prepare.

While we are used to severe weather in Queensland, it is important to avoid complacency about preparing households and homes ahead of what is forecast to be an active weather season in the coming months.

RACQ research found only one in four members packed an emergency kit when a serious storm was forecast, leaving three quarters unprepared for a possible disaster.

To make sure you and your family are ready for a severe weather season, follow this advice and visit RACQ’s new severe weather hub for more information.

Check your insurance

Make sure you are adequately insured for an event. This could mean revaluing your home, assets or other valuables you would need to replace if your property was destroyed. Call your insurer and make sure you are covered for what is important to you, and have digital copies of your important documents in case you aren’t able to access hard copies after an event. 

Prepare your property 

Each of these activities can help reduce potential damage to your home: 

  • Trim trees.
  • Clean and maintain gutters.
  • Check roof condition for rust, holes or water entry points.
  • Fit shutters or metal screens to windows.
  • Secure outdoor furniture or items that could be picked up by wind.
  • Clear yard of debris that could block water flow.
  • Install water hoses around property to defend from a bushfire.

Emergency kit

Severe weather events could leave you without fresh water, electricity or food for several days, so it’s really important you have an emergency kit ready to give your family some support in the initial days after an event. In this kit, you should include:

  • Fresh, bottled water and packaged food for three days. 
  • Torch and batteries. 
  • Battery charger for phone.
  • Battery-powered radio for emergency alerts.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Toilet paper and garbage bags.
  • Spare clothes.

It might also be important for you to include important documents or prescription medications in this kit.

Evacuation plan

It can be incredibly stressful and frightening to be in a severe weather event, and it can be really hard to make the right decision. 

Sit down with your household this month and make sure everyone is clear on what they would do if they needed to evacuate. Make sure you are alert to any advice from local authorities and have a list of numbers to call if you need help. 

Assign responsibilities to different members of your household to make sure nothing important is forgotten. For example, who is responsible for getting all the kids in the car; who will carry the emergency kit and knows where it is stored; where you will go in the case of an evacuation and how you will get there. 

Disaster chasers cause costly damage

If you are caught in the path of a severe weather event, you might receive a knock on your door or phone call from someone claiming to help you after the event.

Unfortunately, these “disaster chasers” target vulnerable homeowners after severe weather events and promise to liaise with the homeowner’s insurer to organise replacements and repairs at your property, often making promises that are too good to be true. 

It is estimated disaster chasers groups have targeted thousands of Queenslanders with unfinished works or invalid insurance claims. These invalid claims increase premiums in regional areas, disadvantaging every homeowner.

If you’re approached by a disaster chaser, don’t sign any contracts or documents and contact your insurer independently if you believe you have grounds for a claim. Your insurer will be able to provide you with advice on how to make your claim, whether it is valid within your policy and assign a builder who has met their strict quality checks. 

If authority on a claim has already been assigned to a third party, it means the third party is able to make any decisions on your claim. This could mean you are left out of pocket or without the benefits you might normally be offered under your policy, such as a lifetime guarantee of the quality and workmanship of the repairs, or timely repairs through reputable and qualified builders. 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is interested in these practices, particularly where disaster chasers are providing a financial service when not licensed to do so. 

You can report any unethical or unconscionable conduct at asic.gov.au.

STORY CLAIRE BANFIELD