With northern Australia now officially in the midst of cyclone season, the State Emergency Service (SES) wants you to be prepared.
Last month the Bureau of Meteorology forecast an ‘average’ summer season for Queenslanders, with up to eight cyclones expected to form of the state’s coast.
The regional director of the SES in far north Queensland, Wayne Coutts, said forecasts of an average season did not mean people should become complacent.
“We all hope for a quiet season … but it only takes one [cyclone] to cross where you live to change your world,” he said.
To be best prepared Mr Coutts urged people to ready an emergency kit with non-perishable food, torches, a battery-operated radio, and a first-aid kit.
“We’re asking people to be prepared for three to five days; to think about what you’ll need so you don’t have to rely on other people,” he said.
A pair of gloves, a tarpaulin and some rope should also form part of an emergency kit, as should things to keep younger members of the family occupied without power.
“You might need some gloves to move debris, maybe even just to move a bit of timber or iron around so you can get the car out,” Mr Coutts said.
“If you’ve got kids, think about how you’re going to keep those guys entertained.”
Think about the little things
Having been involved with the SES since he was a 16-year-old, Mr Coutts has received requests for all manner of things from people in need.
Among the strangest are requests for toilet paper from people unable to leave their homes.
“They don’t call for toilet paper; they call for a list of other things but say ‘And by the way, can you also …’,” Mr Coutts said.
“There are things that people need to consider for those three to five days and medication is a big one that people forget.
“Those are important things to remember because we might not be able to get them, in fact there’s a good chance we actually won’t be able to get them to you.”
Other items Mr Coutts said people should consider included a can opener, a means of cooking food, garbage bags and gaffer-tape that can be used to secure loose items.
Preparing for disaster in the 21st century
Mr Coutts said people often found recovering from disaster more difficult than going through the event itself.
“We see it all the time on television, whether it’s a storm or a fire, people talk about the things they’ve lost that they can never replace,” Mr Coutts said.
“They talk about [losing] photos of people that have passed on and different sorts of memorabilia and that’s a big thing that affects your recovery.
“Now’s a great time to think about digitising important documents … it’s fairly easy to make sure you have digital copies of that sort of stuff that you can never replace and those sorts of things will certainly help with your personal recovery.”