Before a flood occurs…
Being aware of flood risk and preparing for the potential of a flood may mean that you and your property suffer fewer impacts. There a number of things you can do to be prepared before a flood occurs. These include:
Finding out about the flood risk at your property can help you to mitigate the impacts of a flood before it occurs. It is important to know which sources of flooding your property may be at risk of (for example riverine, coastal and flash flood), whether floods have occurred at your property in the past and whether your property becomes inundated or isolated in a flood. This information can be found in flood maps such as those shown on this website, flood studies, talking to neighbours, asking local council, through services such as the South Australian Emergency Services (SES) FloodSafe, the Bureau of Meteorology website and accessing historical flood records. It is also useful to understand if other places you visit, such as your workplace, school or childcare centre, are at risk of flooding, or if the roads you use to get to these places are at risk.
Making a Flood Plan
Once you are aware of the flood risk at your property, the next step is planning and preparing in case a flood does occur. A vital element of this is to have a flood plan. More details about this plan can be found on the SES FloodSafe Website. This plan should include:
- potential evacuation routes from your property and nearby areas of higher ground;
- knowing where an emergency relief centre might be set up;
- planning what personal possessions to move to higher ground;
- having adequate flood insurance;
- knowing where power, water and gas switches are and how to turn them off;
- identifying hazardous substances and a plan to secure these to prevent contamination of flood waters, and
- preparing an Emergency Flood Kit.
Preparing an Emergency Flood Kit
An Emergency Flood Kit should contain items that are essential if a flood occurs. This kit should be kept in a safe place that all members of your family know about and have access to. More information about Emergency Flood Kits can be found on the SES FloodSafe website. Items that should be kept in the kit include:
- a list of useful telephone numbers including neighbours, relatives, insurance companies and emergency services to obtain details about the flood;
- if you have children, any essential items they need including nappies, bottles, clothes and favourite comforting toy;
- pets and essential pet supplies;
- important documents for example passports, birth and marriage certificates, identification, insurance details;
- sentimental belongings such as family photographs;
- sandbags and sand and;
- general items including canned food, can opener water, waterproof clothing, first aid kit, mobile phone, batteries, radio, torch and essential toiletries.
More information about flood plans and flood kits including a useful checklist can be accessed from the SES Flood Safe website:
During a flood…
There are a number of actions you can take during a flood which may help to lessen the impacts of flooding on your family, property and belongings, such as:
- Tune into emergency radio broadcasters such as ABC radio, keep up to date with notifications via websites such as the Bureau of Meteorology;
- Remember to call the State Emergency Service (SES) 132 500 in emergencies and the South Australian Police (SAPOL) 000 in life threatening situations.
- Never drive, walk, play or swim in floodwaters. People and vehicles can be swept away in fast moving floodwaters, waters can be contaminated by sewage or toxic chemicals and can contain submerged objects and debris which could cause injuries;
- Containing your pets in a safe, transportable carrier with adequate supplies for them;
- Notify relatives and neighbours of your situation and plans in case you need to evacuate.
If flooding is not expected to be life threatening and you have time, other actions you can take to reduce damage to your property and make cleaning up after a flood easier include:
- Moving valuables to above flood height;
- Moving and flood proofing chemicals which may contaminate flood waters;
- Rolling up and raising rugs;
- Waterproofing furniture legs;
- Emptying your fridge of perishable food;
- Secure objects, such as your rubbish bin, which may float in floodwater and cause damage to your property;
- Blocking your toilets, drains and sinks to stop sewage backflow;
- Sandbagging any areas that are low-lying where water may enter your property.
Further information on what to do during a flood can be found on SES FloodSafe:
After a flood
- Wait until an area that has been flooded is declared safe before entering;
- Wear rubber boots or rubber soled shoes when entering a property that has been flooded;
- Be cautious of any hazards such as electrical wires which may give you electric shocks, submerged items, holes in flooring, broken glass or areas of walls and ceilings which may fall;
- Do not use gas or electricity until it has been checked by a proper authority and it is safe to do so;
- Be watchful of animals including rats, spiders and snakes which may have entered your property seeking shelter. Never to try to kill snakes as they may be venomous and try to defend themselves. Find qualified pest removalists instead;
- Do not drink any water as it may be contaminated, by sewerage or chemicals, drink only bottled water until you are assured that your water supply is safe;
- Throw away any food which has been exposed to flood waters;
- Start any insurance claims which are necessary for flood damaged items;
- Begin cleaning up your property and belongings. Be aware that this may be a very long process.
Specific information about how to clean up your house, furniture and belongings as well as further details about what to do after a flood can be found in the Emergency Management Australia publication, What to do Before, During and After a Flood.
Return to FAQ's
Never drive, walk, play or swim in floodwaters
Never eat food that has been in floods or drink floodwater
If you need to evacuate...
Evacuate early. Your safety and that of your family are the most important concern in a major flood. In this situation, it is safer and easier to evacuate your property when it is still dry than when the flood rises.
Follow instructions from emergency services personnel. You may be required to leave urgently and may need to prioritise your safety over protecting your property.
Turn off utilities to your property if you have time.
Take only what you need - medications, personal documents, mobile phone and essential items.
Tell people that may be concerned about you where you are and what is happening.