When floods threaten

Identify which indoor items you will raise or remove.

If you have adequate warning that your property could be inundated by floodwaters, you have a few options. Find out whether your area was previously flooded and the height floodwaters rose to. Compare that to the current predicted river peak.

Because you live in a single storey home, you'll need to carefully consider your risk. Removing all furniture, electrical items, and valuables could be your best option. Call around to family and friends to see who can provide a ute, trailer or truck to help with the move. Pack up clothing, shoes, and personal and household items into boxes and suitcases. 

If you can't get help, load your most valuable and precious items into your car and move that to higher ground. Electrical appliances, white goods, computers, phones, TVs, stereos - anything that operates using electrical or battery power - will not work if it gets wet. To avoid electrocution, an electrician should test these items before you use them, if you're uncertain whether water damage has occurred. If you must leave them behind, turn off and unplug all electrical items. 

Is your garage higher up your property? If so you could move some items there. Make sure you stack furniture into a tower with electrical items on top.

Move loose items in yard or on deck to higher ground.

Ideally any items in your yard such as outdoor furniture, boats, caravans, bikes, ornaments, pot plants, gas tanks, drums, market umbrellas, swings, large toys, and garden tools should be removed or locked inside a garage or shed. In floodwaters, these loose items become buoyant and float away. In a flash flood these items could be picked up and hurled through windows, doors and garage doors causing avoidable damage.

Caravans are necessarily of lightweight construction with flat sides, which makes them susceptible to being tipped over during floods, or damaged by flood debris. Use chassis and roof tie-downs to prevent your caravan being swept away. The most effective roof tie-down is a strong net firmly fixed at ground level that passes over the van roof, which might also protect your van from flood debris.

Move garbage, chemicals or poisons to higher ground

Floodwater contamination presents a significant health risk. To reduce this risk store toxic substances, such as poisons and garden chemicals, in the garage or shed up high, where they are out of reach. Make sure chemical containers are clearly marked as poison with lids screwed on tight. Position containers in a strong box so they won't topple over if bumped.

Never store these items in juice, milk, or soft drink containers, which children might mistake for a tasty drink. Tell children about the danger of eating or drinking anything they find lying around after floodwaters recede. Poisoning is Australia's number two cause of accidental death and one of the major causes of hospital admissions for children between the ages of one and four.

Call Triple 000 for all life-threatening situations.


Sandbag external entry points including garage door.

To prevent water affecting your property during the flood peak, prepare a sandbag wall to prevent water entering, or divert water and silt away from your property. Make sure you have flat clean ground as your foundation. Start with areas of high risk, for example external doors and garage doors. 

Using wide masking tape, fix a sheet of black plastic or a tarpaulin one metre from the ground across the doorway and extend the plastic 50cm on either side of the doorway. Leave one meter across the ground in the direction you expect the water will come. The plastic is for waterproofing the bags are for weight.

Place two rows of sandbags across the plastic along the ground. Make sure the bags sit close together but don't overlap. Kick them into place. Place another layer of bags at right angles to and on top of the first layer.

When protecting a garage door, make a crescent shape so that the centre is further from the garage door and the edges closer to the garage door. For crescent shaped walls you need to place a row of sandbags behind the plastic as well. Get plenty of people involved to lessen the work. Don't bend your back when lifting the bags and don't overfill sandbags.

The Social Enterprise Division of the Brotherhood of St Laurence has become involved in preparing the community to protect their homes by working with local councils and emergency service organisations to provide sandless floodbags, called FloodSax to residents at risk of flooding.

Shove a sandbag down the toilet bowl outlet to prevent back-flow of sewage.

When floodwaters threaten your home, one of the most useful precautions you can take is to shove a sandbag or brick covered with an old towel down each and every toilet bowl outlet, to prevent back-flow of sewage. If every household and business remembers this practical action before leaving, the health of recovery workers and volunteers will be better protected. Contaminated floodwaters, silt and mud pose a significant health risk to anyone cleaning up after floods. The whole community will benefit.

Empty freezers and refrigerators leaving doors open, to prevent floatation.

Imagine returning to your home to find a freezer or refrigerator full of rotting food, left without cooling for a number of days. Yuck! Pack up food into boxes and eskies and take this with you. If you simply toss the contents of your fridge into your garbage bin it's likely to spill garbage into floodwaters and cause contamination. Wheel your garbage bin to somewhere nearby that's on higher ground. Paint your address on your bin for easy identification and return.