Preparing for floods

The key to minimising damage is planning well in advance.


In recent years, areas of Australia have been ravaged by flooding and torrential rain. Unlike cyclones and bushfires, floods are not necessarily seasonal, which means you need to be prepared year round. 

The key to minimising damage is planning well in advance. Deciding whether to stay and defend your property or evacuate is something you should decide as soon as possible so that you can put the appropriate measures in place. 

Have an emergency kit packed and make sure everyone in the family or wokplace understands the plan of action.

The flood preparation checklist provides advice on preparing for flooding, including what to do before, after and during a flood. 

Flood preparation checklist



  • Check whether your residence of business is subject to flooding. If you are unsure, contact your local council for further information.
  • Find out how high the water could rise in and around your property
  • Check if a FloodSafe sticker has been installed in your meter box, ascertain how different flood heights are likely to affect your household
  • Check if you could be cut off by floodwaters
  • Plan the safest route to leave your property, should you decide to leave
  • Have any cracks in the foundation and exterior walls sealed
  • Anchor any fuel tanks in your yard
  • Check your home, business and contents insurance. Many properties are not covered for flood. If you are insured with CGU and want more information about your policy, speak to your insurance adviser, or contact us on 13 15 32. 
  • Cash/credit cards and key documents including your will, passports, birth/marriage/death certificates, insurance policies, immunisation and medical records and tax and bank details stored in waterproof bags/containers
  • Film or photograph all your property/vehicles and possessions and store a copy in a location off site or online, along with copies of your purchase receipts where relevant
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers near the telephone or stored in your mobile
  • Create a household/business emergency plan
  • Assemble an emergency kit


If you choose to leave



  • Have your evacuation route planned ahead of time – taking into consideration different routes and what you need to take.
  • Take your emergency kit with you
  • Turn off electricity, gas and water when you leave
  • Head to your evacuation centre as advised
  • Take your pets with you, do not leave them behind


When you leave early

Proceed to the evacuation centre you are advised to go to. Be sure to leave well before roads are closed by water. Help services available from relief centre are likely to include:



  • Temporary accommodation
  • Financial assistance
  • Personal support
  • Refreshments and meals
  • Clothing and personal needs
  • Help to contact family and friends
  • If you are isolated, your state or territory emergency service will coordinate the supply of essential items to communities and properties that are cut off by floodwaters.
  • Do not try to swim through floodwaters. Floodwaters disguise hidden dangers such as electricity, fallen trees, strong currents and chemicals.


When flooding is imminent



  • Listen to your local radio station for information and advice
  • Check that your neighbours are safe and also aware of risks
  • Notify friends and extended family of your intentions to stay or evacuate
  • Remember your meter box sticker (if installed) and consider the actions you need to take including turning off all electrical power, if necessary
  • Stack possessions on benches and tables with electrical good in the highest places
  • Secure objects that are likely to float and cause damage
  • Relocate waste containers, chemicals and poisons well above ground level
  • Locate money, important documents, valuables and sentimental objects, and put them in your emergency kit
  • To minimise water damage, business owners should move stock, records and equipment to benches and tables
  • Rural property owners should relocate livestock and farm equipment to higher ground
  • Sheds and outbuildings should be checked for valuables, these should be moved to higher ground
  • If isolation is likely, have enough non-perishable food, essential medications, fuel and other necessities to last at least a week
  • Do not forget pet food and stockfeed


When flooding beings



  • Avoid driving or walking through floodwaters. If you must enter floodwaters, wear solid shoes (no thongs or bare feet) and check the depth and current with a stick or pole.
  • Stay away from drains, culverts and water that is more than knee-deep. Floodwaters may contain sewage, take precaution. Stay away from fallen powerlines - electrical current passes through water. If you come to a flooded area, turn around and go another way.
  • Do not drive through water, or around barriers, a car can be swept away in as little as 1/2 a meter of water.
  • A person can be knocked down by as little as 1/4 of a meter of rushing water.
  • If your car stalls in rising water, abandon it immediately and seek shelter above floodwater. Wait for rescuers to come for you, avoid swimming to safety. If outdoors, climb to high ground and stay there. Keep listening to a local radio station for information and advice. Keep in contact with your neighbours where possible. Be prepared to leave early if required.


After the flood checklist

Flood danger does not end when the water begins to recede



  • Keep listening to local radio stations.
  • Do not return to your home or business until authorities indicate that it is safe to do so.


Once you are at your home or business



  • Keep the electricity off until checked by an electrician.
  • When entering the building, use a torch to light your way.
  • Never use matches, cigarette lighters or any other naked flames as there may be flammable gas trapped inside the building.
  • Dispose of any food or medication that may have come in contact with floodwaters. Floodwaters can pick sewage, chemicals and waste.
  • Clean your home or business straight away to ensure good health.
  • Boil all drinking water until authorities indicate that local water supplies are safe.
  • If damage to your home or business has occurred, document all damage for insurance purposes - use photos or video to do this.
  • If electrical items have water damage, get them professionally tested prior to use.
  • Have gas appliances inspected and cleaned professionally, to prevent a gas explosion or fire.


This page provides general advice that CGU Insurance has sourced from emergency services.  For up-to-date and specific advice relating to the risks in your area please speak to your local council or emergency services.