Preparation and safety during thunderstorms

Severe weather can affect all parts of Australia and storms can happen anywhere, at any time of year and may be accompanied by damaging winds, large hail, heavy rainfall or tornadoes. All of these phenomena can cause significant damage to homes, businesses and community infrastructure. By knowing what to do before, during and after a storm you can help reduce the effects on you, your family, home and business.

Check forecasts and warnings

Check the Bureau's website or app for the latest forecasts and warnings to help you keep up to date with what the weather is doing in your neighbourhood. Listen to local and national radio and TV broadcasts for further information about storms as they're occurring.

Here are some suggestions to help you keep you and your property safe during severe weather. You can find out more information about preparing for and staying safe in severe weather events from your state/territory emergency services (links below).

When a severe thunderstorm threatens

  • Check the Bureau website or app and listen to your local radio station for storm warnings and updates.
  • Shelter and secure pets and animals.
  • Check your yard or balcony and secure or store items that could blow around in strong winds, e.g. garden furniture, trampolines.
  • Park vehicles under solid shelter or cover with firmly tied tarpaulins/blankets.
  • Secure all external doors and windows and draw curtains.
  • Put valuables, medications and spare warm clothing in plastic bags with your emergency kit and keep it handy.

When the thunderstorm strikes

  • Stay inside and shelter well clear of windows, doors and skylights.
  • Don't use a fixed telephone during a thunderstorm due to lightning danger.
  • Avoid touching brick or concrete, or standing bare-footed on concrete or tiled floors.
  • Keep checking the Bureau website or app and listen to your local radio station for storm warnings and updates.

If caught outdoors

  • If driving, don't drive into water flowing over roads.
  • Don't drive, walk, ride or swim through flood waters.
  • Seek shelter in a 'hard-top' (metal-bodied) vehicle or solid building but avoid small open structures or fabric tents.
  • Never shelter under small groups of (or single) trees.
  • If far from shelter, crouch (alone, feet together), preferably in a hollow. Remove metal objects from your head and body. Don't lie down flat but avoid being the highest object in the vicinity.
  • If your hair stands on end or you hear 'buzzing' from nearby rocks, fences etc., move immediately. At night, a blue glow may show if an object is about to be struck (St. Elmo's fire).
  • Don't fly kites or model aeroplanes with control wires.
  • Don't handle fishing rods, umbrellas or golf clubs etc.
  • Stay away from metal poles, fences, clotheslines etc.
  • Don't ride horses, bicycles or travel in open vehicles.
  • If swimming, surfing etc., leave the water immediately.
  • If boating, go ashore to shelter as soon as possible.
  • Be sure the mast and stays of a sailing boat are adequately 'grounded' to the water.

Where to get more information

Bureau of Meteorology pre-recorded telephone messages

ACT/New South Wales Coastal, Land Weather and Flood Warnings: 1300 659 218

Victoria Coastal, Land Weather and Flood Warnings: 1300 659 217

Queensland Land Weather and Flood Warnings: 1300 659 219

Western Australia Land Weather and Flood Warnings: 1300 659 213

South Australia Coastal, Land Weather and Flood Warnings: 1300 659 215

Tasmania Coastal, Land Weather and Flood Warnings: 1300 659 216

Northern Territory Coastal and Land Weather Warnings: 1300 659 214

State and territory emergency services

New South Wales NSW SES 132 500

Victoria VIC SES 132 500

Queensland SES 13 74 68

Western Australia DFES 13 3337

South Australia SA SES 132 500

Tasmania Tas SES 132 500

ACT ACT ESA 13 22 81

Northern Territory SecureNT 132 500