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How to prepare for a flood

How to prepare for a flood

Planning and preparation are key to minimising the dangers that can come with floods.

The risk of flood is a very real part of the Australian landscape. 

Here are some tips that can help you be better prepared for any flooding that may occur in or around your home.

Emergency contacts and staying connected

Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and save them to your mobile phone. Some numbers you might need are your local emergency services office, police, ambulance, hospitals as well as other essential services like your gas, electricity and telecommunications provider.

It’s important to stay informed of any developments in your area. Service providers and alert services could include:

  • The website for the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)  which provides forecasts and warnings;
  • Your local radio station for weather and situation updates;
  • Your local council's relocation routes and centres. The council may also provide assistance for flood prevention strategies such as access to sandbags.

Provisions and emergency kit

Floods sometimes impact essential services and infrastructure which can result in delayed response times for assistance. To help prepare, gather the following items and put them in an easily accessible place:

  • First aid supplies and any special medications
  • Non-perishable food and water for your family and pets
  • Blankets and dry clothing
  • A torch
  • A battery operated portable radio to listen for warnings and updates
  • Spare batteries for the torch and radio
  • Heavy duty gloves for moving debris
  • Identification documents for each family member

Be prepared to leave

  • Check with your local council about relocation routes and centres so that you know where to go should you need to evacuate your home.
  • Take your emergency kit and contacts lists.
  • If possible, let someone know where you are heading.

Make sure you have the right insurance coverage

Not having adequate insurance means that in times of disaster you may be left without assistance from your insurance company. With the Bureau of Meteorology reporting an increased frequency of major flood events, knowing your policy covers loss or damage caused by flood as standard can provide real peace of mind. CommInsure Home Insurance, for example, offers flood1 cover as a standard insured event.

Plan a course of action

Depending on the strength of the flood and the amount of warning time, you may be able to take some actions to try to minimise damage. Remember, your safety is paramount and it’s important not to compromise this at any time. Think about how long it would take you to do these things and what you would want to prioritise should you have very little time.

Turn off your electricity, gas and water

Remove all fuses from your meter board fuse box and put them above the anticipated flood level. If you have a circuit breaker panel board, turn each circuit breaker into the ‘off’ position.

Close the main gas valve and disconnect any gas cylinders or bottles and move them above the expected flood level.

Turn off the main water valve, which is usually found at the water meter located where the water supply enters your property.

Protect valuables and goods

If possible, move your furniture, personal and electrical items to higher ground. You should take care to ensure that your drains are clear of rubbish, such as cardboard and newspapers, which can disintegrate and cause blockages.

Secure any hazardous items

Some items, like stacked firewood, can cause damage if they’re picked up by flood waters so you should tie them down. Leave fridge and freezer doors open, so they don’t float or tip over.

Lids for outdoor bins should be tied or weighted down. You should also relocate any hazardous materials that might react with water or contaminate floodwaters. Store them in waterproof containers at the highest point of your home.

You can prevent a back flow of sewerage by placing a strong bag filled with sand or earth in toilet bowls and over shower and bath drains.

Find more information at Emergency Management Australia’s ‘What to do before, during and after a flood'.


1Cover for damage caused by storm, bushfire or flood is excluded for the first 48 hours of the policy (exceptions apply). Policy limits and other exclusions apply.

Information drawn from Emergency Management Australia’s ‘What to do before, during and after a flood’. This information has been prepared without considering your personal objectives, financial situations or needs. Before acting on it, please consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Home Insurance is provided by Commonwealth Insurance Limited ABN 96 067 524 216 AFSL 235030 (CIL). CommInsure is a registered business name of CIL. CIL is a wholly owned non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 (The Bank). The Bank does not guarantee the obligations or performance of CIL or the products it offers. This information is provided by CIL and where we refer to ‘we’, 'us' and ‘our’, we mean CIL. You can download a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) by clicking on the links, or by calling us on 13 2423 for a paper copy. This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice.