Surviving Cyclones: Preparation and Safety Procedures

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This page provides a general checklist for cyclone preparation and safety procedures.

Preparation and Safety information is also linked in the right hand column including details about damage and danger associated with cyclone intensity, storm surge and advice for mariners.

State and territory emergency agencies are the primary providers of advice for cyclone procedures. Contact details and web links are provided at the bottom of this page.

The information in this checklist was prepared by Emergency Management Australia in consultation with State/Territory Emergency Services to help protect you and your property.

Before the cyclone season

  • Check with your local council or your building control authority to see if your home has been built to cyclone standards.
  • Check that the walls, roof and eaves of your home are secure.
  • Trim treetops and branches well clear of your home (get council permission).
  • Preferably fit shutters, or at least metal screens, to all glass areas.
  • Clear your property of loose material that could blow about and possibly cause injury or damage during extreme winds.
  • In case of a storm surge/tide warning, or other flooding, know your nearest safe high ground and the safest access route to it.
  • Prepare an emergency kit containing:
    • a portable battery radio, torch and spare batteries;
    • water containers, dried or canned food and a can opener;
    • matches, fuel lamp, portable stove, cooking gear, eating utensils; and
    • a first aid kit and manual, masking tape for windows and waterproof bags.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers on display.
  • Check neighbours, especially if recent arrivals, to make sure they are prepared.

When a cyclone watch is issued

  • Re-check your property for any loose material and tie down (or fill with water) all large, relatively light items such as boats and rubbish bins.
  • Fill vehicles' fuel tanks. Check your emergency kit and fill water containers.
  • Ensure household members know which is the strongest part of the house and what to do in the event of a cyclone warning or an evacuation.
  • Tune to your local radio/TV for further information and warnings.
  • Check that neighbours are aware of the situation and are preparing.

When a cyclone warning is issued

Depending on official advice provided by your local authorities as the event evolves; the following actions may be warranted.

  • If requested by local authorities, collect children from school or childcare centre and go home.
  • Park vehicles under solid shelter (hand brake on and in gear).
  • Put wooden or plastic outdoor furniture in your pool or inside with other loose items.
  • Close shutters or board-up or heavily tape all windows. Draw curtains and lock doors.
  • Pack an evacuation kit of warm clothes, essential medications, baby formula, nappies, valuables, important papers, photos and mementos in waterproof bags to be taken with your emergency kit. Large/heavy valuables could be protected in a strong cupboard.
  • Remain indoors (with your pets). Stay tuned to your local radio/TV for further information.

On warning of local evacuation

Based on predicted wind speeds and storm surge heights, evacuation may be necessary. Official advice will be given on local radio/TV regarding safe routes and when to move.

  • Wear strong shoes (not thongs) and tough clothing for protection.
  • Lock doors; turn off power, gas, and water; take your evacuation and emergency kits.
  • If evacuating inland (out of town), take pets and leave early to avoid heavy traffic, flooding and wind hazards.
  • If evacuating to a public shelter or higher location, follow police and State/Territory Emergency Services directions.
  • If going to a public shelter, take bedding needs and books or games for children.
  • Leave pets protected and with food and water.

When the cyclone strikes

  • Disconnect all electrical appliances. Listen to your battery radio for updates.
  • Stay inside and shelter {well clear of windows) in the strongest part of the building, i.e. cellar, internal hallway or bathroom. Keep evacuation and emergency kits with you.
  • If the building starts to break up, protect yourself with mattresses, rugs or blankets under a strong table or bench or hold onto a solid fixture, e.g. a water pipe.
  • Beware the calm 'eye'. If the wind drops, don't assume the cyclone is over; violent winds will soon resume from another direction. Wait for the official 'all clear'.
  • If driving, stop (handbrake on and in gear) - but well away from the sea and clear of trees, power lines and streams. Stay in the vehicle.

After the cyclone

  • Don't go outside until officially advised it is safe.
  • Check for gas leaks. Don't use electric appliances if wet.
  • Listen to local radio for official warnings and advice.
  • If you have to evacuate, or did so earlier, don't return until advised. Use a recommended route and don't rush.
  • Beware of damaged power lines, bridges, buildings, trees, and don't enter floodwaters.
  • Heed all warnings and don't go sightseeing. Check/help neighbours instead.
  • Don't make unnecessary telephone calls.

Note: Managers of resorts, hotels, motels, and caravan parks should take steps to ensure visitors are aware of the dangers and know what to do in the event of a cyclone. Free Protecting Caravans information is available from your State/Territory Emergency Service.


Where can I get information?

The main sources of cyclone information are radio and television stations. During a cyclone threat, some stations keep local staff on duty 24 hours a day to broadcast cyclone information. Because of the high chance of the power supply being disrupted, it is important to have a battery-operated radio to listen for cyclone advices.

The Bureau also provides the latest watches, warnings and supporting information on this website and through its telephone service. Look in your Telephone Directory under Bureau of Meteorology to obtain numbers for additional services which are not listed below. Further preparedness and general information on cyclones is produced by Emergency Management Australia and is available from the State/Territory Emergency Services.

Bureau of Meteorology

Automated Telephone Messages: Cyclone Advices (Watch/Warning):

  • QLD: 1300 659 212
  • NT: 1300 659 211
  • WA: 1300 659 210

Emergency services agencies