This article is intended as a general guide only. You should consult your state fire and emergency services for further information.
Knowing what to do after a storm occurs may seem like an overwhelming task if your home is damaged. But once the danger subsides and you have safe access, there are several steps you can take to restore your property and make it easier for your family to look confidently towards the future.
Severe storms can strike anywhere in Australia with September to March posing the highest risk for potential damage to homes, as well as injuries to people. However, there are precautions you can take before and during a storm, to minimise the impact on your family, home and its contents.
Dealing with destruction caused by a storm
In the aftermath of heavy rain, lightning, hail, strong winds and tornados, it’s important to take plenty of photos of damage caused in and around your home as they will help with insurance claims. Insurance expert David Kneipp, QBE National Catastrophe Claims Manager, offers the following practical advice for what to do after a storm.
Storm damage inside your home
Continue tuning into local weather services for storm updates and news. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has various helpful storm maps and information you can access online. For example, if you live in South East Queensland, check Storm Tracker, which predicts the position of a severe storm 30 minutes in advance.
Downpours can cause problems to your electrics long after a storm has occurred. “Check electrical items have not been affected by water and are safe to use. If you’re not sure, get them tested, particularly if there were a lot of lightning strikes in the area,” cautions David.
Flooring is another area that can be affected, adds David. “Storms will often cause damage to carpets and flooring and to home contents as a result of rain water and run off.”
Ceilings are more susceptible to long-term damage. “Ceilings are often damaged as a result of roof plumbing not coping with the amount of water,” explains David. “Be careful when returning home because of the potential for ceilings to collapse.”
Hail can cause considerable physical damage, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. “Be careful of broken glass when checking your home, especially if there has been a hailstorm,” says David. “Secure windows straight away. In this circumstance you can call one of our glass providers directly – Windscreens O’Brien or Express Glass.”
Storm damage outside your home
Your roof is the main external area that will need careful examination, David suggests. “People don’t always check their roofs for storm damage and this can cause problems later on so it’s worth checking, but only if it’s safe to do so.”
David also recommends contacting your state-based emergency service for serious roofing problems if necessary. “In high winds, a storm can lift up roof sheeting. If this happens, put tarps in place for the short-term.”
If you suspect asbestos is in your roof, do not attempt repairs on your own. “Asbestos can also be an issue with roofing and will require expert help,” advises David.
Hailstorms are also notorious for damaging cars. “Your car will most likely still be drivable, but if your windscreen is damaged you should directly contact our partners at Windscreens O’Brien,” suggests David. “In some cases we’ll send you to an assessment centre and the specialists will decide the next course of action, whether that be Paintless Dent Removal, panel beating or making the decision to write-off your car.”
Even after the storm appears to be over, do not go sightseeing. You don’t want to get in the way of emergency recovery operations or endanger yourself or others. But it is a good idea to check on your neighbours and see if they need assistance.
Continue to avoid waterways, drains, fallen trees, fallen power lines and damaged buildings.
If you were out driving and remain in your car after a flash storm, resume driving when it’s safe but do not enter floodwater. Proceed with caution as roads can be slippery, covered in debris or your vehicle can become bogged.
Destruction caused by a storm can be a life-changing event, so it’s important the insurance claim process which may follow is as simple and stress-free as possible. If you’re affected by a storm and not sure if you’re covered, check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).
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