Get Ready for Summer
Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. John Caruso takes a page out of Ben’s book and encourages us to Get Ready for summer on the Sunshine Coast.
During my six years as the Regional Content Manager for ABC Local Radio I had the opportunity to sit on both the amalgamated Sunshine Coast and Gympie Regional Council’s Disaster Management Committees.
In September of 2019 a deliberately-lit fire terrorised residents of Peregian Springs and in the ensuing months more bushfires burnt out of control around Lake Weyba. I remember living at Doonan at the time and keeping a close eye on numerous apps hoping the wind would either calm down or change direction, sending the fire towards the lake and away from people and property.
Less than two years later, in January of 2021, seventy five percent of the state was declared a disaster zone with thirty-three people losing their lives during one of the most devastating flooding events Queensland had ever witnessed.
I’m sure the memories and scars for families and friends impacted by these events are still felt today, and Queensland’s summer season means there may be fresh triggers and reminders each year because summer in the Sunshine State means severe weather and a heightened state of awareness for all of us.
Help is at hand and being prepared for adverse weather is now an essential part of living in this great state.
Each year local government ramps up its storm and bush fire awareness campaign beginning with its Get Ready week in October, in an ongoing attempt to reinforce messaging around being prepared and ready for what a Queensland summer may throw at us.
There are three simple steps!
1. Understand your risk.
We experience more natural disasters than any other state and territory in the country, with more than a hundred natural disasters occuring since 2011. After several years of rain and flooding, this year the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting below median rainfall and predicting a higher risk of heat waves and bushfires. That means you need to know what hazards could affect your area, how likely they are to happen, and what impact they could have on your property and community.
2. Prepare a household emergency plan.
This is a document that outlines what you and your family will do before, during, and after a disaster. It should include information such as where you will go if you need to evacuate; how you will stay in touch with each other; what you will do with your pets and livestock; what documents, and valuables you will take with you; and who you will contact for help or support. You can download a template for a household emergency plan from the council’s disaster hub website or create your own.
3. Pack an emergency kit.
An emergency kit is a collection of items that you may need in case of a disaster. It should contain essentials such as long life food and toiletries in case you can’t get to the shops; drinking water in case the water supply stops working; batteries, a torch, and a radio in case the power goes out; first aid supplies and medications; and personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.
You should also pack some items that are specific to your needs and preferences such as, baby formula and nappies; pet food and bowls; books and games; cash and cards; and special dietary or medical items. You should store your emergency kit in a waterproof container that’s easy to carry and access.
“It’s important to prepare now before the next severe weather event, so you’re best placed to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at us,” explains Wayne Sunderland, Sunshine Coast Council’s Disaster Management Lead.
“Our updated online Disaster Hub makes it easier for residents and visitors to prepare before, during and after a disaster or emergency.
“On there you’ll find up-to-date information and links to key emergency services, including weather warnings, road closures, evacuation centres, airport updates, traffic cameras, flood mapping, as well as council’s news updates and social media posts.
“Even though council and the people involved in disaster management continue preparations all year round, being prepared is everyone’s responsibility.”
As a parent or guardian, preparing kids for extreme weather, should also be part of your summer preparation – wild weather is part of living on the Sunshine Coast.
Each year we experience many types of disasters including bushfires, heatwaves, flooding, and cyclones.
You may have grown up with thunderstorms and lightning rumbling and cracking across the evening sky, however for children, extreme weather events and their impacts like blackouts and flooding can be frightening.
For many it may be the first time they’ve experienced wild weather. Babies and children have a limited understanding of what’s happening around them, however being prepared before a weather emergency can make a big difference to how they will respond and cope. And if you’re calm and confident when the sky CRACKS, your kids are more likely to be calm too.
Talk to them about what could happen and why, using simple and age-appropriate language, show them where the emergency kit is and what’s inside it.
Involve them in making or updating the household emergency plan; teach them how to call triple zero in case of an emergency and reassure them that you will do everything you can to keep them safe. Comfort items such as blankets, toys, or music can also help.
Being prepared for storm and bushfire season is not only smart, but also easy.
By following simple steps, you can reduce the risk of harm to yourself, your family, and your property, and increase your resilience and recovery after a disaster.
With the rise of social media and citizen journalism, it is important to source accurate and up-to-date information from reliable sources and authorised representatives.
GET READY RESOURCES
Find out more about how to be prepared:
For a map and current bushfire and weather warnings go to Queensland Fire & Emergency Services
Weather updates: Bureau of Meteorology