Seven tips for recovering from severe weather
Returning to your home or business following severe weather can be an overwhelming experience, and the emotional impact it can have on you and your family shouldn’t be underestimated. These seven simple and practical tips will help you navigate the process of recovery as quickly and safely as possible.
Get permission before returning to your property
Your safety, and the safety of your loved ones, needs to be your priority at every step of the recovery process. Return to your property only when emergency services have declared it safe to do so, and even then, only enter once you are certain that you’re not at risk.
Be mindful of hazards at home
When returning home after a storm, make sure the electricity and gas is off before going inside. If you need light, use a torch until you can be sure that there’s no gas around. When returning after a flood, keep all power and electrical appliances off until they’ve been checked and approved for use and the property has been cleaned up. In both situations, it’s also important to check that your smoke detectors are still working.
Wear gloves and a mask during clean-up
Floodwater in particular can bring with it a lot of contaminants. Protect yourself with gloves, a mask, and thick rubber boots during the clean-up.
Be aware of contaminated foodstuffs
Don’t eat any food that has been in floodwater, and ditch any perishable items if your electricity has been cut off for an extended time… if you’re unsure, get rid of it. Boil tap water until emergency services declare water supplies to be safe.
Help your neighbours
Feeling connected to your community is especially important when severe weather strikes. Once it’s safe to do so, head next door to check on your neighbours to see how they’re doing and whether there’s anything you can do to help them. Don’t know them? Now is a great time to introduce yourself! You never know how you may be able to help each other. Organising a community clean-up is another great way to connect with your neighbours over a shared experience, and afterwards you can sit down with a cup of tea and chat about what’s happened – we recover better when we do it together.
Community connection and resilience results in improved health and wellbeing, more confident and self-reliant communities, an improved sense of safety and belonging and increased risk mitigation. Taking those first steps towards connecting with your neighbours is fantastic, but it’s also important to plan how you can stay connected in the future. Strengthening those connections will ensure that your community not only recovers well, you’ll also be better prepared for whatever you face in the future.
Research the help that is available to you
For all the devastation it causes, severe weather often shines a light on the incredible community spirit that can be found throughout Australia. Organisations such as the Red Cross (shelter and outreach services) and Orange Sky Laundry (mobile laundry services) are on the ground in some areas, offering support to those in need. For anyone needing confidential emotional and crisis support, Lifeline is available 24/7 via 13 11 14.