How to prepare for La Nina

Published 3:00pm 14 September 2022

How to prepare for La Nina
Words by Jodie Powell

Understanding local risks is the key to navigating the coming storm and bushfire seasons according to Moreton Bay Region SES controller Sean Harrop.

In the wake of yesterday’s declaration by the Bureau of Meteorology of a third consecutive La Nina – bringing with it above average spring and summer rainfall – Sean says now’s the time to prepare.

“We want residents to be prepared because the best outcome for them and us is that they don’t actually need our help,” Sean says.

“I strongly suggest that all residents sign up for MoretonAlert.

“Sometimes we’re so involved in what’s happening in our lives we don’t realise severe weather is coming.

“They (the alerts) were extra helpful earlier this year.”

MoretonAlert is a free SMS, email and voice alert system that delivers warnings about severe weather, bushfires, council burn notifications and potential flash-flooding.

Check local conditions

How to prepare for La Nina

He says while general preparations such as putting together an emergency kit and tidying yards apply across the Moreton Bay Region, residents should also be aware of local circumstances.

“Depending on where people live in the Moreton Bay Region – Redcliffe can experience storm surges as well as flooding - whereas in Dayboro it’s landslides and trees calling over,” Sean says.

“There’s good information on the Council website.”

He says investing in a weekend of preparation will give residents peace of mind and ensure they are as ready as possible for bad weather and bushfires.

Getting started

On the to-do list should be making sure documents for property and contents insurance are up to date so high value items are listed correctly, updating pet registration and microchipping details and creating a physical list of important contacts.

“What happens if your mobile phone goes flat and there’s nowhere to charge it?

“It’s important to write down names and numbers, in case you have to use a different device to contact people,” Sean says.

“During the floods this year one lady dropped her phone and it was completely destroyed and she couldn’t contact her husband.”

What to do around the home

How to prepare for La Nina

Sean says simple measures such as keeping gutters clear and cutting back overhanging branches can make a big difference in the event of a storm.

“A lot of properties can receive a lot of damage from blocked gutters flowing back into the roof,” he warns.

Elsewhere around properties, identify loose items such as outdoor furniture and trampolines that need to be secured in a storm and store poisons, petrol and chemicals up high to prevent them being washed into flood waters and spilling.

“It’s all stuff that a family can do over a weekend.

“If you get your emergency kit together and do those jobs every so often then it’s much easier.”

Sean recommends checking the kit every few months to ensure its contents are still in date.

What to include in an emergency kit

Sean says every emergency kit should include a range of basic items:

  • Important documents such as birth certificates, passports, insurance papers
  • A list of important contacts such as those for family and friends
  • A battery-operated radio
  • A torch
  • Spare batteries
  • Water – enough for two to three days
  • Regularly taken medication
  • Non-perishable food

Preparation for pets

Sean says the floods earlier this year highlighted the need to incorporate pets into evacuation plans.

“People were ready to evacuate but they weren’t ready with their pets,” he says.

“You need water, food, medication, leads and carry cases to put them in.

“Identification is also important – ensuring microchipping and council registration is up to date.”

Sean says owners should be prepared to be separated from their pets if they’re forced to evacuate, with authorities possibly taking them to a safe location.

“Evacuation centres at the best of times are difficult for people, without adding pets on top.

“We want to make sure residents and their pets are well looked after.”

What else can you do?

How to prepare for La Nina

Sean says checking sandbags obtained earlier in the year is a good idea – they can last for up to two years if they are kept dry and in a cool place.

He says Council will reopen sandbag filling stations when storm warnings are issued and people will need to bring their own shovel and be prepared to fill bags themselves.

After a storm, Sean says residents should check their property for damage.

“But also be aware of fallen power lines, tree debris and if things have struck buildings,” Sean says.

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