Table of Contents
- What is a Flood?
- What can you do to prepare for a Flood?
- How will you be advised of a Flood?.
- What should you do when a Flood warning is issued?
- What to do if you need to evacuate?.
- What to do during a flood?
- What to do after a flood?
- Further Information and Reading
There are three different types of flood that can occur in Queensland.
- Flash flooding
- Mountain or coastal rivers quick onset flooding
- Inland rivers slow onset flooding
Flash flooding is the most dangerous in terms of potential threat to loss of life and can result from relatively short, intense bursts of rainfall that can occur almost anywhere in Queensland. People are often swept away after they enter these floodwaters on foot, or in vehicles, due to the speed and power of the swift moving water. There may be little or no advance warning for flash flood so it is important to:
- pay attention to weather patterns and weather forecasts
- stay away from rivers, creeks and drains
- get to higher ground
- act quickly
- never try to drive, ride or walk through a flash flood.
Mountain or coastal rivers quick onset flooding occurs in the mountain headwater areas of large rivers, as well as in rivers that drain to the coast. In these areas, the rivers are steeper and flow more quickly, with flooding lasting for one or two days. These floods can pose a risk to loss of live and property as there is much less time to prepare and the flow of water is faster and more dangerous.
Inland rivers slow onset flooding is the flooding of rivers in the vast flat areas of central and western Queensland that may last for one or more weeks and can lead to -
- major loss of livestock and crop damage
- extensive damage to rural towns and road and rail links
- isolation of whole communities for weeks and sometimes months.
The Bureau of Meteorology uses the following flood terms. It is important to know what they mean.
- Minor flooding: Causes inconvenience. Low-lying areas next to watercourses are inundated which may require the removal of stock and equipment. Minor roads may be closed and low-level bridges submerged.
- Moderate flooding: In addition to the above, the evacuation of some houses may be required. Main traffic routes may be covered. The area of inundation is substantial in rural areas requiring the removal of stock.
- Major flooding: In addition to the above, extensive rural areas and/or urban areas are inundated. Properties and towns are likely to be isolated and major traffic routes likely to be closed. Evacuation of people from flood affected areas may be required.
- Local Flooding: Used where intense rainfall could be expected to cause high runoff in limited areas local to the rainfall, but not necessarily leading to significant rises in main streams.
- Flash Flooding: Flooding occurring in less than 6 hours of rain, usually the result of intense local rain and characterised by rapid rises in water levels. They are difficult to predict accurately and give little time for effective preventive action.
If your area is flood-prone, you should:
- Develop a Household Emergency Plan
- Prepare an Emergency Kit and an Evacuation Kit
- Prepare your Home
- Complete the Disaster Readiness Index Checklist
- Ask your local council about flood plans which detail problem areas and evacuation routes and centres
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers stored in your mobile phone and on display
- If you have a traditional landline phone (non-portable), keep it in your home because if it will work even if you lose power
- Nominate an out-of-town person to be a point of contact in case the family becomes separated
- Nominate two meeting places in the event that you cannot return home; one in your neighbourhood and one outside your neighbourhood, and practice getting to these places
- Subscribe to text alert services from your local council (if available) to receive alerts in the event of a disaster
- Prepare your Pets - plan how you will look after your pets. Make sure all pets have collars and tags with up-to-date contact information
- Check home insurance is current and adequate. Check it covers you for flooding including clean-up and debris removal
- Remove items such as leaves and debris that can cause localised flooding
- Consider tiled floors in ground-level rooms
- Ensure your home has a safety switch installed
- Teach children how and when to call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency (or 112 from mobile phones)
- Ensure everyone knows where, how and when to turn off the main power, water and gas supply in case of emergency and evacuation
- Know your neighbours - Plan how your neighbourhood could work together
- Do regular checks of your Household Emergency Plan, Emergency Kit and Evacuation Kit to make sure you're ready.
- Know what the emergency and evacuation plans are at your workplace
- Know what your children’s childcare and/or school emergency and evacuation plans are
- Prepare your business for natural disasters
- Tune into Warnings information
- Listen to your local radio station
- Flood warnings are best found by clicking on the QLD part of the map on our homepage clicking on the QLD part of the map on the Bureau of Meteorology website homepage
- Rainfall and river height gauge readings can be accessed at http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/flood/
- Visit your local council website for information on local emergencies
- The Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS). This is a wailing siren sound used at the beginning of serious warnings on radio and television
- Emergency Alert Service voice messages to your landline and text messages to your mobile (Emergency Alert messages issued in Queensland are included on the Queensland Disaster Management Services website)
- Sirens and loud-hailer announcements that Emergency Services may use in certain circumstances
- Emergency Services personnel who may door-knock your local area to pass on warnings.
The Bureau of Meteorology provides:
- generalised flood warnings where flooding is occurring, or is expected to occur, in a particular region where no specialised warning systems have been installed
- warnings for severe storms that may cause flash flooding
- warnings of minor, moderate or major flooding in areas where specialised warning systems have been installed. In these areas the warning message will identify the river valley, the locations expected to be flooded, the likely severity of the flooding and when it is likely to occur
- Activate your Household Emergency Plan
- Check your Emergency Kit and Evacuation Kit is fully stocked (including essential medications and means to deliver dosage)
- Prepare your Household for Evacuation
- Consider if early evacuation is appropriate for you and especially for frail or mobility impaired family members
- Check your Neighbours - Help friends, family and neighbours by passing on warnings
- Tune into Warnings - stay tuned into additional warnings and updates
- Move vehicles, outdoor equipment, garbage, chemicals and poisons to higher locations
- Secure any items that may float away or move in flood waters e.g. gas bottles, garbage bins
- Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, sinks, plastic bottles, cooking pots and any other safe storage containers
- Plan which indoor items you will raise or empty if water threatens your home
- Prepare your Pets - Considering moving your pets to a safer place otherwise secure animals inside so that they do not take flight, run away or hide
- If you have livestock, move them to a safe area
- Businesses should activate their Emergency Plans and plan to relocate stock and equipment to high ground.
- Tune into Warnings
- Ensure all householders are aware of the warnings and advice provided
- Don’t wait to be told – Self evacuate to your predetermined evacuation destination if you live in a flood prone area or require support – inform your neighbours/friends/emergency services if you do plan to self evacuate.
- Plan your evacuation route to avoid flood water and other possible hazards
- Raise your pre-determined furniture, clothing and valuables on to beds, tables and into roof spaces
- Empty fridges and freezers, leading the doors open
- Place sandbags (strong plastic bag full of sand or earth) in the toilet bowl and over all laundry/bathroom drain holes to prevent sewage back-flow
- Call your out of town contact before you leave and once you arrive at your evacuation location
- Charge your mobile phone
For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead of making voice calls on your mobile phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are okay
- Check your Neighbours and friends who may need special assistance
- Prepare your Pets - have your pets ready to go – if you are unable to take your pets with you never leave them tied up or chained and provide adequate food and water in large heavy bowls
- Fill your petrol tank and stock your car with emergency supplies.
- Evacuate you Business
- Act quickly on the advice provided
- Follow all instructions by emergency authorities and react to changing conditions
- Take your Emergency Kit and Evacuation Kit and commence your evacuation arrangements
- Turn off all the main power, water and gas supply, unplug all appliances
- Ensure all family members are wearing strong shoes and suitable clothing
- Travel light – do not risk your safety with replaceable possession
- If available – consider putting call-forwarding on and forward your home phone number to your mobile phone number.
- Lock your home and take the recommended evacuation routes for your area
- Take your pets
- Seek shelter at your predetermined evacuation location
- If you are visiting or holidaying in Queensland and do not have family or friends to shelter with, contact your accommodation manager immediately to identify options for evacuation
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters.
There could be a number of scenarios that you could find yourself in during a flood.
- Tune into Warnings - stay tuned into additional warnings and updates
- The best option when you are not required to evacuate, is to shelter in a safe and secure structure at home or with family and friends
- Don’t allow children to play in, or near flood waters
- Avoid entering floodwaters. If you must, wear solid shoes and check depth and current with a stick
- Be aware of the increase likelihood of contact with wildlife such a snakes and spiders
- Stay away from drains, culverts and any flowing water
- Keep your Emergency Kit close at hand.
- Store drinking water in a clean and covered bathtub or in the hot water tank. If the hot water tank valves are turned off and no heat is supplied to the tank, flood water cannot enter the tank
- Any water you suspect may be contaminated—should be treated before drinking
- Do not run generators in a confined space that may lead to the build up of Carbon Dioxide fumes
- Do not use any electrical items - consider alternatives for food preparation and hygiene.
- Avoid driving or walking/wading in flooded areas at all costs
- Enter only if absolutely essential and safe to do so, and proceed slowly and steadily
- Don’t enter flood waters before checking depth and current. Beware of wash-outs, fallen power lines and floating objects
- If your vehicle becomes stranded in flood water, leave it and move to higher ground before the water rises further
- If you are in a boat, keep away from power lines and power poles and wear you life jacket.
- Be calm and considerate
- Register the name and details of your family upon arrival
- Inform the registration officer of any injury or pre–existing illnesses and any symptoms of respiratory illness
- Wash your hands regularly especially after using shared toilets
- Maintain good personal hygiene techniques
- Do not share eating utensils or drinking containers
- Do not share other personal articles such as toothbrushes or towels
- Maintain a clean living space. Dispose of any food/human waste promptly
- Find the appropriate place to accommodate your pets
- Limit loud noises/yelling as this may wake up or frighten young children
- Do not smoke or consume alcohol in the Centre
- Secure your valuable and personal items.
- For any situation where someone is seriously injured or in need of urgent medical help call Triple Zero ‘000’
- For non life threatening emergency assistance refer to your emergency phone numbers or contact your local council
- Wait until authorities have declared the area safe before entering a flood zone - If you are allowed to return to your home, do so using the recommended routes only
- Do not go sightseeing
- Check on your neighbours
- Don’t use gas or electrical appliances which have been in flood water until checked for safety
- Check with electricity, gas and water authorities to determine whether supplies to your area have been interrupted and are safe to be turned on by you.
- If you're experiencing dull or flickering lights, 'brown out', low voltage, partial supply tingles or shocks from an electrical appliance or water taps, turn off and unplug appliances at the power point. Do not touch your switchboard or anything metal in your home and call Ergon 13 22 96 immediately
- Don’t eat food which has been in flood waters. This includes food from fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
- Boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe. If the water supply system has been flooded, you must assume it is contaminated.
- Wait until flood water has fallen below floor level before returning to a flood affected house.
- Stay safe and healthy during storms and flood recovery
- Wear rubber boots (or at least rubber-soled shoes) and rubber or leather gloves.
- When cleaning up your house and yard following a flood, remove any stagnant pools of water to help prevent mosquito-borne diseases.
- Contact your Insurance company before removing or discarding flood effected items
- Take photographs of flood affected items and /or buildings to assist with claims. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
- Stay away from damaged powerlines, fallen trees and flood water
- If your home has become uninhabitable due to flood damage, contact your local council to identify where you can seek emergency accommodation and further assistance
- Keep children out of drains, creeks or rivers
- Watch animals closely - Keep all your animals under your direct control. If there has been damage to boundary fences pets may be able to escape from your home. Be aware of hazards at nose, paw or hoof level, particularly glass or downed power lines
- Do not corner wild animals that have taken refuge in your home - provide an escape route by opening a window or door
- Do not attempt to move any large dead animal carcass. Contact your local council for help and instructions
- Recognise the signs of disaster related stress. Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to a disaster event. Recognise the early signs that you may not be coping and seek assistance.
Use the telephone for emergency calls only - Use social media, e-mail and text messaging to contact one another during disasters as these are less likely to experience network congestion
You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are okay.
Conserve your mobile phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using that draw power.
If you lose power, you can charge your mobile phone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alertsBack to top
Further Information and Reading
Australian Red Cross: Resources web page that includes a number of REDIplan information booklets.
Emergency Management in Australia: Community awareness publications
Emergency Management Queensland: Publications for Preparedness
Queensland Government flood information: Information on financial assistance - payments, grants and loans
Queensland Government (Qld Health): Disaster Management
Australian Government (Attorney Generals Department): What to do Before, During & After a Flood.
Australian Government (Bureau of Meteorology) – Flood Forecasting and Warning Services
Queensland Government (Department of Justice and Attorney-General): Electrical safety in storms and floodsBuilding Services Authority: Natural Disaster BSA’s Tips for Rebuilding & BSA Disaster Recovery and Rebuilding Advice
Last updated 18 December 2011