Prepare your home for floods

Floods account for 30% of Australia's natural disasters. The most common form of flooding in Australia is the flooding of rivers following heavy rainfall. Another major form of flooding is the overflow of drainage systems in urban areas, particularly in heavily populated areas.

If you're unsure, contact your local council and ask for flood maps for your area to see whether you're living in a flood-prone area. The accuracy of flood maps can be influenced by factors such as changed to river and creek catchments, changes to drainage and sewer arrangements. Staying up-to-date through contact with your local council or floodplain management authority is essential.

Because you reside in a flood-prone area, considering raising your floor level in order to reduce the risk of water entering your home and causing damage to its structure and your belongings. If you've purchased a house in a flood-prone area and the house is already raised, resist the urge to build additional living space at ground level.

Check that all windows and external doors close securely.

In order to prevent torrential rain entering and damaging your house, check that all external windows and doors close and lock properly. If you have to leave your home, because floodwaters threaten, leave all windows and doors securely closed.

Because external doors and windows are subject to the harsh Queensland climate, they can warp, shrink, or expand, which prevents proper closing. Aluminium frames are sturdier than timber and timber that's well coated with protective paint is better than bare timber or timber with peeling paint.

Know where and how to turn off mains power, water, gas and solar power.

To enable fast action in an emergency, draw a map of your property and clearly mark the location of your electrical switchboard, natural gas connection or tanks, water supply, and solar inverter. Store this with your Household Emergency Plan.

Remember to turn off power at the main switch in your switchboard. Two separate inspections must occur on a flood-affected property before power can be reconnected to your property, one by your electricity provider and another by a licensed electrician who will inspect and test household wiring. 

If the water supply system has been flooded, assume it is contaminated. Damage to water pipes is reduced when depressurised. Shove a towel down into the water bowel and weigh that down with a sand bag or brick, to reduce contamination of floodwater by untreated sewage.

Turn off your gas supply or gas cylinders. Do not attempt to use gas appliances if your property has been inundated. Any gas installation affected by floodwaters must be checked by a licensed gasfitter, at your expense, before the gas supply can be restored. Your flood insurance might cover the expense. Your gas provider should replace flood-affected regulators or meters that form part of the gas network.

If your solar system is at risk of being subjected to a flood, this is what you should do.

Your solar power system should shut down if mains power is turned off. However, you can manually turn off the solar power system by following the shutdown procedure listed on or near your solar inverter or meter box. Do not attempt to turn the solar power system on when floods have receded. Call your installer, explain the situation and ask them to recommission the system. Or call your licensed electrical contractor. The inverter will need to be replaced if it has been submerged.

Do not attempt to approach your solar power system or attempt to turn it off if any of the components are flooded or wet, as this could cause a lethal electric shock.

In the event floodwaters affect your areas and you lose mains power supply (electricity) to your house, your photovoltaic array power system is designed to cut out immediately. Do not attempt to turn your inverter back on. If you wish to manually shut down your inverter, please read the instructions located on or near the inverter.

Homeowners who are forced onto their rooftops to avoid floodwater need to stay well clear of the panels and associated wiring, because the panels will continue to produce power event though the mains supply is off.

Only allow licensed electricians to access the switchboard or electrical equipment that has been affected by floods. If in doubt, get professional advice. Don't put your life in danger.