Preparing your home for a storm
Even if your home isn’t at risk of flooding, storms can be just as damaging if you’re unprepared with 80 per cent of VICSES callouts each year attributed to storms
If you haven’t done so already, clear your gutters of debris to prevent roof leaks during a downpour. This job can be dangerous, so use safety equipment like gloves and non-slip shoes - or hire a professional to do the task for you. Ensure the gutters are draining away from your home and not pooling in the foundations or in stagnant puddles. Do not attempt to clear your gutters if it is already raining or wet.
Strong winds are possible during storms, and these can fling objects at great speeds and cause damage. Prepare for this eventuality by removing debris from your property that could be harmful (e.g. large branches) and tie down (or take indoors) any outside furniture that could be picked up by strong winds. Shade umbrellas and trampolines in particular are easily thrown by winds.
During the storm stay inside and away from windows. Do not travel if possible – if you must travel, drive to the conditions and beware that landslips, obstacles, mud and reduced visibility is likely when driving.
Safe driving in wet and stormy conditions
Storms can strike at any time, include while driving. Heavy rain, hail and strong winds can all effect your ability to drive safely.
Extreme weather conditions can reduce your ability to see the road, with drivers advised to slow down and increase their distance from other vehicles if visibility deteriorates.
Turn your headlights on to increase your visibility to other vehicles and avoid using your high beams unless travelling on a dark road with no likely oncoming traffic, such as in the country.
If you can no longer see past your bonnet, then it’s time to pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so. Pulling into a covered service station or carpark is a good option if available, while parking under trees and powerlines should be avoided at all costs.
Once the storm passes, we’re here to help.
Storms can also bring thunderstorm asthma, with those with existing asthma or hay fever most at risk. This weather phenomenon causes shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing with symptoms potentially life-threatening. 2016, ten people died in Melbourne due to thunderstorm asthma, with hundreds more hospitalised.
The BOM notes that the 2022-2023 severe weather season has the potential for an increased thunderstorm asthma risk if conditions become dry in late spring and early summer.
The VicEmergency app issues alerts for when there is a high risk of thunderstorm asthma occurring. If at risk, do not go outside during alert if possible, close doors and windows, and set air to recirculate if you own an air conditioner.
Carry your asthma or hay fever medication (such as an inhaler or antihistamines) with you. If symptoms become severe, call 000.