Disaster can happen quickly and without warning. It could mean the loss of basic services including water, power and phones. It may mean damage or threat of damage to your property by cyclonic winds, flooding or fire. Emergency services may need to enforce evacuations or confine you to your property until the danger has passed.
The Tablelands Local Disaster Management Group works hard to ensure an effective response to disasters. All agencies work together to provide essential and critical public services. Emergency services need to prioritise their actions and may not be able to reach everybody right away. It is vital to take action to prepare for emergency situations. By being informed and prepared, you can significantly reduce the risk to you, your family and your property.
The Preparing for Disasters—All-Hazards Guide provides useful information and tips that will improve your ability to cope in a disaster, increase our ability to keep you informed, and increase our capacity to work with emergency services to restore normality as quickly as possible. Simple preparations now will ensure you and your family are protected in a disaster situation.
This easy-to-use Cyclone Guide will assist people with complex communication needs. It should be discussed, interpreted and reinforced by a communication partner or parent, and used as a tool to prepare prior to the cyclone season and expected event.
Tips If Going Away During Cyclone Season
- Empty, clean and unplug the refrigerator and freezer and leave the doors open. This will help to eliminate food spoilage in the event of a power failure.
- Turn off the hot water system at the main switchboard and unplug electrical equipment to avoid damage from potential power surges.
- Check that you have the appropriate level of insurance on your home.
- Make copies of all important documents and store them on a USB stick in a water-tight container.
- Ensure your family, friends and neighbours know that you will not be at home and that somebody can contact you if necessary.
- For information on floods and cyclones visit Bureau of Meteorology.
- For information on wildfires visit Rural Fire Service.
- For information on preparing for, responding to and recovering from disaster events visit Queensland Government Disaster Management.
- For assistance during storms or floods contact the State Emergency Service (SES) or 13 25 00 (24 hours)
- Satellite Map (Australia)
- Satellite Map (Queensland)
Get Ready Queensland is about building our resilience to deal with the extreme weather and natural disasters that are a part of living in our state. We want to make Queensland Australia’s most disaster-resilient state and we need your help to do it. Each year in October/November, a series of Get Ready Week activities occur around the Tablelands, with government, councils, community groups, businesses and not-for-profit organisations all pitching in to help make our region more resilient.
Tune in Tablelands was recorded and filmed in our region amidst a stunning backdrop of picturesque waterfalls, rainforests and rolling green hills. The production stars local performers, students from 18 schools in the region, and emergency service personnel. The music video is a Tablelands Regional Council — Disaster Management initiative and sends the message on how to be prepared and aware in the event of natural disasters.
The Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) periodically sends out a survey to remote properties to update property details, including radio call sign, and other relevant information for use in disaster situations.
Get Ready Challenge
The Get Ready Queensland Challenge engages and empowers children to be part of their household’s emergency planning through a range of virtual disaster preparedness challenges like identifying risks, looking out for neighbours, removing hazards and packing emergency kits.
There are nine levels in the Get Ready Queensland Challenge that have been designed to instil important knowledge for participants to implement in their own home and community.
Talk To Children
Explain to children in a manner that does not cause them anxiety that a disaster is something that happens that could hurt people, cause damage, or cut off things such as electricity, water and telephones. Explain to them that nature sometimes provides ‘too much of a good thing’ such as rain, wind and fire.
- Talk about things that your children can relate to such as loss of power or no water. Watch television programs on natural hazards with them and explain that is what can happen and discuss with them their impressions.
- Give examples of disasters that could happen in your area. Help children recognise the warning signs of the disaster that could affect your community. Talking about disaster, with them, ahead of time will reduce the fear and anxiety when an event does occur and lets them know how to respond. This sends a powerful message that their safety during a disaster event is your priority.
- Teach your children how to ring 000 in a life-threatening emergency or when parents are incapacitated. Ensure they understand to listen carefully to the operator who will help them with their emergency. Also ensure they know where they live and their telephone number.
- Have your children undertake a first aid, fire safety or CPR course.
- Talk to your child’s school to understand the information your child is receiving about safe behaviour and disasters.
- Tell children about the many people who will help them during a disaster. Explain the roles of the various emergency services and support agencies and how your children can identify them.
- Teach your children to call the family contact if they become separated during a disaster event. Help them memorise the telephone number or give it to them on a card they can keep with them.
- Practice disaster scenarios with the whole family. For example undertake a fire evacuation exercise at home or have a discussion about the household emergency plan, what items you need to shelter, where you will go if you need to evacuate, what the plan is for pets and so on.
- Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) educational resources for teachers and students.
Evacuation is a last resort and will only be considered as a viable option if absolutely necessary. Residents should remain at home, make yourself secure and listen to the radio for updates. Always follow the advice of Emergency Services and the Tablelands Local Disaster Management Group who are working to protect your safety.
Public Cyclone Shelters are purpose built and designed to withstand category 5 cyclones. They are provided for people who live in storm surge areas (a coastal issue) and are unable to make alternative safe arrangements during the impact phase of a severe tropical cyclone. As the Tablelands is not at risk of storm surge, it is unlikely that we will ever have a cyclone shelter in our region.
Place of Refuge
Places of Refuge are normal buildings which have been selected as being amongst the best existing buildings available within a community. They are not designed to the criteria of Public Cyclone Shelters. Places of Refuge facilities are provided during the impact phase of a severe cyclonic event for people that are unable to make alternative safe arrangements. We sometimes evacuate for wind. The best place to shelter during a cyclone is within your own home. If you live in a caravan, tent or other dwelling which you have concerns about, you should make arrangements to stay with family, friends or accommodation providers in safer places. Places of Refuge are provided as a last resort for people who are unable to make alternative arrangements.
Evacuation Centres are buildings designated by Council that can be used to provide short-term shelter for people evacuated or who have been displaced as a result of a disaster event e.g. wildfire or flooding. Evacuation Centres can also be used in the recovery phase following the passing of a cyclone when it is clear there is a need for accommodation e.g. people have lost their homes and it is safe to do so.
If you do need to evacuate lock doors, turn off power, gas and water and take your evacuation kit and emergency kit with you. Consider lifting valuable items off the floor if the threat is flooding or storm surge. Wear strong shoes and tough clothing for protection. Leave early to avoid heavy traffic, flooding and wind hazards. Avoid using the range roads which are prone to landslips and closures from vehicle breakdown and debris.
It is difficult for the authorities to manage large numbers of animals. Where it is safe to do so, leave your pets at home with plenty of food and water and allow your pet access to elevated spaces to escape danger. If domestic pets arrive at Evacuation Centres or Places of Refuge they will not be accepted. If resources permit and a facility that will accept pets is activated then animals will only be accepted if adequately restrained and if no alternative option is available.
Evacuate using only one car per family or household. If you don’t have means of transport seek assistance from family, friends or neighbours. Contact the Tablelands Local Disaster Coordination Centre on 1300 362 242 as a last resort.
The Tablelands Local Disaster Coordination Centre will publicly notify the opening of Places of Refuge and Evacuation Centres via local ABC and commercial radio broadcasts.
We all carry mobile phones with names and numbers stored in it. If you were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending would have your mobile phone but wouldn’t know who to call.
The ICE (In Case of Emergency) concept is a method of contact during emergency situations. As mobile phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name ICE. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital staff will be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialling the number you have stored as ICE. For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.
Many smart phones also have an emergency option when the phone is locked. Update your emergency option by including medical information such as allergies and reactions and contact details for a person in case of an emergency.
Since 2011, Queensland has been hit by more than 70 significant natural disasters. Many people have found out too late that they did not have enough home and contents insurance cover for their property and assets. Regardless if you are a homeowner or a renter, this can be extremely costly and stressful.
Many people are uninsured, not because they don’t want insurance, but because they can’t afford traditional cover. Rising premiums due to the impact of recent natural disasters is also a major contributor to unaffordability.
There are resources available to offer guidance and expertise in relation to insurance affordability. Find out more about companies who offer affordable and simple insurance policies for low income earners and about assistance for North Queensland residents.
When a disaster occurs local radio and websites generally provide the fastest means of circulating information and advice to the public. Radio broadcasters will interrupt programming to provide public safety advice and information about any disaster incidents, so tune in and get the advice you need.
- ABC Far North — 106.7FM, 95.5FM, 720AM
- 4AM — 558AM, 91.3FM
- HIT FM — 97.9FM
- KIK-FM— 88.7FM, 87.3FM
Normal communication channels such as landlines, mobile phone networks and the internet, while often very robust, can fail during or immediately after a major disaster. With the advent of the NBN, our communications are changing. Below is some helpful information from NBN.
If normal communications fail, the UHF Citizen’s Band radio network UHF-CB Channel 10 is designated as the alternative initial contact for use in a disaster event, or when standard communications such as landlines and mobiles have failed.
The Tablelands Local Disaster Management Group will make information available for the public on how best to react to the situation via media releases, updates on our webite and social media sites including Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to these sites and also register for the Early Warning Network to keep informed of potential disaster scenarios and public safety information.
Information on useful websites and contact points for key agencies are included in emergency contacts.
Phone, NBN & Social Media Tips
- If you haven’t already, purchase a phone charger that isn’t dependent on a power outlet. Solar power chargers, in-car chargers and power bank chargers are all reliable options. Make sure you charge your power bank.
- Back up important data, like contact information and photos, to your cloud.
- Compile a list of essential contact numbers to store in your phone and keep them close at hand, including local Police, Fire, SES, family, friends and Telstra’s fault lines (details below).
- Satellite phones are usually immune to damaged infrastructure and can operate in remote locations. If communications are critical you could consider a satellite phone.
Fixed Line Phones
- Remember, most modern cordless phones rely on electric power to operate, so you may lose the use of your landline during a power outage. Consider a phone with a battery backup function and keep spare batteries nearby.
- If you have NBN it’s important to remember your home phone now works through the modem, and if there’s a power outage, your phone line will also be down. Best to have a mobile phone handy, or a satellite phone for remote areas.
- Keep a spare plug-in phone handy. Your cordless phone is great, but using a plug-in phone connects you to the telephone exchange.
- Set up an instant messaging group with family and friends. Agree in advance to update each other here during an emergency.
- Download emergency service apps. They will give up to date warnings and incident information issued by official agencies across Australia.
- Identify key local agency social media accounts and websites for real time information on what’s happening in your area.
- Subscribe to text and emails that will alert you to weather changes, road closures and local emergency services updates.
- Have a battery powered radio with spare batteries to listen to the emergency broadcaster in your area.
Telstra Outages provides up-to-date on outages and restoration timeframes in your area.
And if you have an issue with your service, make sure you report it. Telstra customers can report a fault by calling:
- Mobile phone 125 111
- Fixed line 132 203
- ADSL 133 933
All other customers should contact their service provider to log a fault.
Queensland is a great place to live — plenty of sunshine and a great outdoor lifestyle.
Your animals are your responsibility and remain so at all times during disaster events. Planning ahead will ensure better safety and improved welfare for your animals, avoiding unnecessary danger and anxiety.
Tips for Pet Owners
- Prepare a disaster plan and kit for each animal.
- Check with animal refuges, animal welfare groups, animal boarding facilities, vets, RSPCA and TRC on whether they can provide accommodation for your pets in the event of an evacuation. Add the contacts to your emergency contact list and make arrangements to board your pets at an animal boarding facility for the duration of the event.
- Contact hotels and motels outside of the threat area and check on their policies for accepting pets and any restrictions on size, species etc. Ask if pet policies can or will be waived during disaster events.
- Ask friends or relatives outside of the affected area to house and care for your pets. Preferably this should be the place that you self evacuate your family to.
- Be sure your pet has a current registration tag and an implanted microchip.
- If your dog normally wears a choker collar have a separate leather or nylon collar available for wear during disaster events. This is to ensure no injury is caused to your pet during stressful conditions.
- Keep your pet’s immunisation shots up to date and have all records available to take with you if you have to evacuate. Boarding facilities and emergency animal shelters will not take pets without immunisation records.
- In your family emergency kit have extra supplies of dry pet food, kitty litter, food, water feeders/containers and extra medication.
- Keep extra newspaper for your animals’ sanitary needs.
- Consider a muzzle for your dog, as the stress of disaster events can affect animals, leading to normally placid animals becoming aggressive.
- If your pet is on medication ensure you have an adequate supply to cover a disaster event.
Evacuating With Pets
- Public Evacuation Centres and Places of Refuge (often schools, halls or community centres) are not set up to cater for pets. If you will be evacuating your pet, consider safe relocation options e.g. investigate temporary animal shelters or safe refuge with family or friends.
- Consider taking your pet’s comfort items to reduce their anxiety, for example their bed and toys.
- Carry your pet’s grooming items, leashes, paper towels and disinfectant.
Leaving Pets Behind
- Never leave animals in vehicles.
- Place each pet in a separate room. Even pets that normally get on well together may become aggressive towards each other under the stress.
- Do not tie pets up if you have to evacuate. If there is a threat of flooding ensure they can escape to a place of safety. Leave chairs, tables, benches etc which will allow your pet to gain elevation.
- Leave their normal bedding with them as well as any favourite toys to help control any anxiety.
- Leave your pet in a small room preferably without windows. A room that is easy to clean such as a laundry, toilet or bathroom are most appropriate.
- Leave two or three days of dry food in a large heavy container that is difficult to knock over.
- Leave water in a sturdy container that is difficult to knock over. A tap left slowly dripping can replenish water supplies in a container and large dogs may be able to drink from a partially filled bathtub.
- Birds must eat daily to survive. Check with your vet on suitable food dispensers that regulate supply.
- Leave a notice in a prominent location advising emergency services personnel of which animals they are likely to encounter and in which rooms. Also leave the details of where you can be contacted.
After a Disaster
- Keep pets inside after a disaster event. If they must go outside keep dogs on the leash and cats in a pet carrier.
- Take care when returning. Your pets usual environment may have been severely damaged and the animal may be disorientated, frightened or aggressive.
- After the event, if you cannot return to your home, contact Tablelands Regional Council to find out what arrangements have been made to reunite pets with owners.
- If you have to leave the area following a disaster event take your pets with you, as they cannot survive without you. Keep them leashed and in close contact with you for a period after the event until they settle into their new surroundings and routine.
- The behaviour of pets can change remarkably after a disaster event. Be alert to changes and seek advice from a vet if necessary.
Purchase a pet carrier for each animal for use in disaster events. If you do not have a pet carrier small to medium animals can be carried in their cages, pillowcases or in secure boxes with air holes.
- Use pet carriers for dogs and cats. Be sure that they are large enough for your pet to stand up in, turn around and lie down. Make sure your pet is comfortable with the carrier by training them to enter and spend time in it.
- Carry birds, guinea pigs, mice etc in cages or pillowcases (tied firmly) or in secure boxes with small holes.
- Check with your local pet store for a small tank to transport your fish in with attached battery operated aerator. If you have no other option put your fish into a large wide necked jar, two-thirds filled, with a secure lid and aerate by gently blowing through a straw. Remove the lid when stationary to allow for some air saturation.
- Frogs need a small covered tub with 2.5cm of water in the bottom and air holes in the top.
- Snakes and lizards need to be put in a container with a secure lid and air holes, or sack/pillowcase.
Tips for Livestock Owners
- Develop a written disaster plan, including a list of resources (suppliers, trucks and trailers), evacuation sites, emergency phone numbers and contacts of who can help during an emergency.
- Decide where to take animals if evacuation is necessary, for example high ground or under sturdy cover. Have several sites in mind, in case your first choice is unavailable.
- Be aware that animals can sense danger and may get nervous or jittery before a storm or cyclone and may be easily spooked.
- Identify food and water sources that do not rely on electricity, which could be lost during an emergency.
- Familiarise yourself with several evacuation routes to your destination. Avoid routes likely to be travelled heavily by people.
- Photograph and identify brands and tattoos and inventory by age, sex, weight, and breed. Identify in a written list, which animals (such as breeding stock) are of the highest priority or most valuable, in the event only some of them can be saved.
- Keep vaccinations and boosters up-to-date. Record the dates, dosages and types of medications and health products the animals have received. Record dosing instructions and dietary requirements. Keep this information with the Disaster Plan.
- Secure loose items around the farm.
- In extreme circumstances, the best option may be to cut fences or leave gates open so that stock can escape danger (and be collected later).
- Consider acquiring back up power generators and backup fuel supplies. (Particularly useful for poultry farmers to provide continuous air-conditioning for stock and dairy farmers for cooling of milk).
- If possible, evacuate your livestock early to ensure their safety, protect your investment and ease your stress. Better safe than sorry.
- Avoid using public roads if possible.
After the Threat
- Check fences: be sure they are intact. Check pasture and fences for sharp objects that could injure livestock.
- Beware of fallen power lines.
- Check with relevant authorities regarding missing animals.
- Seek advice from Council or DAFF on the safe methods of animal disposal or burial.
Only rescue wildlife if it is necessary, because handling wildlife requires special care. If possible, leave it to trained handlers. To report injured or orphaned animals contact RSPCA on 1300 264 625.
- Wildlife often appear passive – this is a sign of stress and can change suddenly to aggression and panic.
- Feeding wildlife can create problems of nutritional deficiencies and dependency – seek professional help first.
- Lock pets away to avoid contact with wildlife as conflicts may lead to injury on both sides.
- Never put yourself at risk in an attempt to rescue wildlife.
- Cold wet birds should be wrapped in a dry towel and placed on a hot water bottle of some sort. Do not use hot air (e.g. a hair dryer). Once warmed, give 2-3 drops of honey/glucose for quick energy then call for advice or assistance.
- Wallabies will seek high ground. They are often found in backyards. Where possible lock up pets, open gates, drop fences and leave the animal alone. Wallabies are good swimmers and best left alone in water as attempting rescue will induce panic and drowning.
- Snakes are usually seeking dry ground. Leave alone where possible. Do not attempt to remove. Call 1300 264 625 for assistance.
- Bats should not be handled except by trained and vaccinated bat handlers. Due to damage to roost sites, both insect eating bats and flying foxes may be on the ground and close to residential areas. Avoid physical contact. If an animal is injured, cover with a box or heavy towel and call 1300 264 625 for assistance.
The following items should form part of your Emergency Kit. Be prepared and beat the rush! Your Emergency Kit should be ready by 1 November every year.
- Water — at least 10 litres per person, per day (drinking, toilet flushing and bathing)
- Non perishable food (dried and canned)
- Portable gas stove with fuel, cooking gear, can opener and eating utensils
- First aid kit and manual
- Essential medications, prescriptions and dosage
- Hand sanitiser
- Face masks
- Disinfectant wipes
- Toilet paper
- Toiletry supplies (toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo)
- Personal hygiene items
- Torch with extra batteries (or wind up torch)
- Battery powered lantern
- Battery powered radio with extra batteries (or wind up radio)
- Traditional wired telephone (for land line)
- Prepaid phone cards and coins for phone calls
- Warm jumper, waterproof jacket, hat and gloves for everyone
- Closed-toed shoes or boots for everyone
- Plastic sheeting and duct/masking tape to tape windows
- Whistle and utility knife
- Plastic garbage bags and ties
- Safety glasses and sunglasses
- Specific supplies for infants (nappies and formula), the elderly and people with special needs
- Spare house and car keys
- Pet food, water and other pet needs
- Cash money (ATMs may not be available)
- Emergency phone numbers
Keep original or certified copies of the important documents in your Emergency Kit. Scan copies of these documents and save on a USB memory stick or CD to include in your kit. Keep all these items in sealed plastic bags.
- Insurance documents for your house, contents, cars and valuable items
- Inventory of valuable household goods
- Wills and life insurance documents
- House deeds/mortgage documents
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Passports/visa details
- Stocks and bonds
- Medicare, pension card details and immunisation records
- Bank account and credit card details
- Bed linen, towels and something to sleep on if possible
- Reading materials for adults and games or small toys for children
- Toiletry and sanitary supplies
- Change of clothes and strong shoes/gumboots
- Special need items for infants, the elderly and people with disabilities
- Pet food, water, medication, leash and/or pet carrier, newspaper for clean up and other animal needs.
- Use the Australian Red Cross RediPlan as a template for your Emergency Plan.
- Meet with your family and explain the need for a Family Emergency Plan. Explain to all members, including children, the likely hazards and the dangers of each.
- Explain to each family member what they should do during a disaster event. Try to explain in such a way that it does not cause anxiety or stress for family members, especially children.
- As a family identify and locate a safe place in your house to shelter for each type of hazard.
- Designate a friend or relative’s house as an alternative shelter if a member of your family is unable to make it home when a hazard threatens or you are not allowed to return to your house due to an evacuation of your area. This should also be the place you self evacuate to in the event your area has to be evacuated. All family members should know the name of the occupants, their address and telephone number. If you have pets ensure that you can bring them as well.
- Develop an Emergency Communications Plan. In the event that family members become separated, as can happen with the swift onset of an event such as flooding during the day when parents are at work and children at school, have a plan for getting back together.
- Arrange for an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family contact point. This is the person, living well away from you, who you will contact to provide information on how you have fared during the disaster and the condition of the family. This person will then inform all other relatives and friends of your situation. They also become the focal point for inquiries as to your welfare from others.
- Make sure every family member has a clear idea of what will be required if an evacuation notice is issued. What they must do and what the family must do to make their way to safety.
- Produce checklists of action to take in preparation for specific disaster events.
- Place emergency telephone numbers clearly near the phone. Teach children to ring 000 in an emergency.
- Prepare an emergency kit.
- Document your Emergency Plan and practice it with the whole family.