This week is StormSafe Week and the NSW State Emergency Service and NRMA Insurance have been urging home and business owners across the State to be prepared for severe storms this season. While the season’s outlook is tending to drier conditions than last summer, the chance of severe storms that can bring flash flooding, strong winds and hail are still likely.
On Monday the NSW SES and NRMA Insurance launched StormSafe Week at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium where the dangers of flash flooding were demonstrated. This link shows NSW SES Commissioner Murray Kear talking about the dangers of flash flooding and severe summer storms.
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Michael Gallacher said at the launch that everyone should be ready for severe weather this season.
“Severe storms and flash flooding were a significant feature last summer, resulting in major damage to property and placing lives at risk,” Minister Gallacher said.
“StormSafe Week is an important week to highlight the necessity of preparing and knowing what to do before, during and after a storm.”
NSW SES Commissioner, Murray Kear, said people are often caught off-guard by severe storms which can pose a serious risk to people’s safety.
“Storms can happen quickly and can be extremely dangerous bringing damaging winds, hail and even flash flooding. In the past 12 months the NSW SES has carried out 400 flood rescues, many of which involved people trapped in their cars by flash floods,” Commissioner Kear explained.
“Being aware of the weather and staying away from areas that are prone to flash flooding will mean you’re not putting yourself in a dangerous situation. It will also ensure you’re not risking the lives of our volunteers who have to come out and rescue you,” he added.
NRMA Insurance Community and Sustainability Manager, Megan Lupton also urged people to stay away from floodwater and stressed that preparation is the key to weathering the storm season safely.
“NRMA Insurance* research shows that although 80 per cent of Sydney respondents know that it can be life-threatening for NSW SES volunteers to rescue people from flooded areas, almost 40 per cent have intentionally entered floodwater,” said Ms Lupton.
The findings** also show that people still have some work to do in preparing their homes.
“More than half of home claims are storm-related and much of this damage can be avoided through maintenance,” said Ms Lupton. “While it can seem like the worst of chores, it can save a lot of the heartache that comes with water damage.”
“Half of Sydney residents have never checked to see if their roof was in good condition, or can’t even recall the last time they looked,” Ms Lupton said.
Some basic steps people can follow to prepare for the storm season include:
Clean gutters and downpipes every six months
Check that your roof is in good repair once a year
Make sure your insurance is up-to-date
Secure or put away loose items around the yard or balcony
Trim overhanging tree branches
Prepare your Emergency Kit
Visit www.stormsafe.com.au for further information and tips
*Research conducted by PureProfile in July 2012 among 389 NSW residents
**NRMA Insurance NSW home claims data FY10/11 – FY11/12