30 Aug 2018 | Tenant Tips

Cyclone Warning or Watch: What You Should Do

Cyclone Watch vs. Warning

Do you know what to do when a Cyclone Warning or Cyclone Watch is issued? Because of their potential to cause harm to people, buildings and surrounding structures, the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology will issue a watch or a warning. The aim of watches and warnings is to prompt residents into action that will keep them safe.

Cyclone Watch vs. Warning

If you live in an area that cyclones may affect, it is important that you understand the difference between the two so you are prepared. Typically, the differences are: 

  • A tropical cyclone watch occurs if a cyclone may arrive within 48 hours.
  • A tropical cyclone warning occurs cyclone may arrive within 24 hours.

Usually, a watch means there is a threat of a cyclone within that set period. When this happens, the watch alerts occur every six hours until the threat dissipates. If there is a need to issue a warning, the frequency of updates increases to every three hours. Overall, the aim is to get the message out quickly and to give local residents the chance to prepare.

What Information Does a Cyclone Watch or Warning Include?

The amount of information you will receive depends on where you live, the threat level, and the category (power) of the cyclone. However, it can include:

  • Changing headlines, which will feature significant developments. Often, they will occur via TV, radio, social media and on the Bureau of Meteorology website.
  • The cyclone name, the area it covers, how intense it is on a scale of 1 to 5, and maximum wind gusts.
  • The potential damage it can cause and where maximum damage could occur.
  • When the next advisory watch or warning will arise.

Your information may also include a map, allowing you to determine how close you are to the cyclone's most destructive area.

What Should You Do in a Cyclone Watch?

Watches give you more time to prepare so that you can minimise cyclone damage and keep yourself and your family safe. Make it a habit to keep prepared, especially during the Wet Season, so that you're ready for a cyclone before it appears. If you're in the midst of a watch, you should:

  • Secure loose items that the wind may disturb.
  • Make arrangements for elderly relatives to stay with you.
  • Ensure you have sufficient fuel and water to last for a few days.
  • Brief your household members on where to go in the house if the government issues a warning.
  • It's especially important to brief young children on staying away from balconies and windows.
  • Check on vulnerable neighbours.
  • Designate a household member to check the radio and social media channels for further updates.
  • Protect flood-risk areas with sandbags, if possible.
  • Move precious items to higher floor levels.
  • Address fire risks.
  • Charge necessary devices, or portable charging tools.
  • Stock up on necessary medications.
  • Create a list of emergency numbers and ensure you stock your first aid kit.

Your cyclone watch alert is your chance to prepare. Make the most of it.

What Should You Do in a Cyclone Warning?

Warnings mean that threats and danger are imminent. Therefore, it's time to take action. If a warning occurs, you may want to:

  • Bring vulnerable relatives and neighbours into your home so you can assist them.
  • Collect your children from school.
  • Protect outdoor furniture and vehicles as much as you can.
  • Board-up or tape windows, and secure doors and animal-entry points.
  • Ensure you bring all pets indoors.
  • Prepare an evacuation kit, including clothes, water, and medications.
  • Gather waterproof clothing and warming blankets.
  • Prepare to isolate your electrics.
  • Create a contingency plan for medications that require special storage, such as insulin.
  • Continue listening for further information.
  • Once you and your family members are indoors and safe, do not leave until the cyclone passes.

When or if a cyclone does hit, its severity will determine your next actions. While some may find their local emergency services evacuate them, others will have to move themselves to the safest points of their homes to remain safe until rescue arrives. Staying away from windows, remaining in hallways, or sheltering in bathrooms is advisable.

What To Do During a Cyclone

Finally, if the cyclone does arrive, don't venture outdoors until the authorities give the all clear. Minimise the use of mobile phones and preserve them for checking on updates. Remember, a drop in the wind may just indicate that the eye of the cyclone is passing over your area and winds could very quickly pick back up.

Always remember that preparation and common sense are key. If you are unsure whether it is safe to leave your home, wait for the professionals to provide advice.

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