Merimbula News Weekly

Emergency kits: What you need to include for different weather scenarios

Kate Miranda, NSW State Director at Australian Red Cross gives a welcome speech for the launch Help Nation EmergencyRedi™ workshop. Photo supplied.
Kate Miranda, NSW State Director at Australian Red Cross gives a welcome speech for the launch Help Nation EmergencyRedi™ workshop. Photo supplied.
Emergency kits: What you need to include for different weather scenarios
Emergency kits: What you need to include for different weather scenarios

Emergency kits can be a literal lifesaver during extreme weather scenarios, so it is important to know what exactly your kit needs to include.

A well-stocked kit suitable for multiple scenarios, or a specific kit for each weather event, can help you evacuate your home promptly, knowing that you and your family are fully prepared for whatever challenges come next.

Understanding different weather emergencies

Australia can be a country of wild weather extremes.

For example, NSW can experience periods of stable and mild weather, it can also be at an above-average risk of bushfires, severe storms, and floods in the near future.

This complexity often leaves residents unaware of and unprepared for extreme weather scenarios, underscoring the importance of understanding different weather emergencies.

Across NSW, including its bustling capital city of Sydney, residents have faced weather emergencies like:

  • Heatwaves during summer, with temperatures soaring above average by several degrees, significantly impacting the local climate and increasing the risk of bushfires.
  • Heavy rains lead to flash flooding, which causes damage to homes and infrastructure, necessitating the rescue of numerous residents.
  • Cold spells resulted in agricultural challenges, with crops failing and residents struggling to stay warm.
  • Severe storms with strong winds and lightning cause infrastructure damage, contaminate drinking water supplies and pose safety risks to residents, sometimes leading to fatalities in extreme cases.
  • Bushfires in rural and bushland areas lead to the destruction of land and homes, posing significant challenges to firefighting efforts and community safety.

Understanding the possibility of these emergencies occurring in communities, as well as their overall impact, can help you create a comprehensive emergency kit.

Basic components of an emergency kit

Regardless of the severe weather event you are facing, all emergency kits require these basic components:

  • Mobile phone, a charger, and a power bank to remain in contact with others.
  • Battery-powered radio and spare batteries to remain updated during emergencies.
  • First aid kit, toiletries, and prescriptions for health reasons and in case someone is hurt.
  • Blankets, clothing, and protective wear for warmth and protection.
  • Waterproof torch and more spare batteries for emergencies at night or if the power goes out.
  • Candles and waterproof matches as backups to the torches.
  • Copies of important documents such as passports, birth and/or marriage certificates, and insurance papers.
  • A copy of your emergency plan.
  • Food and a can opener.
  • Drinking water, generally around 10 litres for each person.
  • Waterproof bag to protect valuables.
  • Essentials for your pet in the case you have one.
  • Cash to cover costs if ATMs and banks are not in operation.

Tailoring your kit for specific weather scenarios

While all emergency kits require key essentials, specific weather scenarios call for additional supplies to navigate their risks and remain safe.

Being aware of whether your community is likely to face a storm, flood, or bushfire can help you tailor your kit more accurately and prepare for any hazard in the future.

Storm preparedness

If you are required to prepare an emergency kit for severe storms, waterproofing and protection should be your main priorities.

You can increase your readiness for a storm by including the following items on top of your essentials:

  • Waterproof tarp or tent if you are required to stay outdoors overnight.
  • Rubbish bags for clean-up and waterproofing your kit.
  • Face masks and sturdy gloves for protection.
  • Cooking equipment and supplies that do not require power in case of blackouts.
  • Utility knife and duct tape for versatility.
  • Protective footwear and changes of clothes in the face of the wet weather and debris.

Flood preparedness

The debris and overflowing water of floods can make your home and surroundings difficult to navigate safely.

Your emergency kit should recognise these hazards by including similar items needed for storm preparedness, as well as:

  • Gumboots for protection and waterproofing.
  • A whistle to call for help.
  • Additional food and water in case you cannot return home.
  • Spare house and car keys for returning home.
  • A more extensive first aid kit.
  • Waterproof containers for all goods, but especially cash, food and documents.

Bushfire preparedness

While flooding water and strong winds generally are not a concern during bushfires, the threat of heat and flames means the addition of essentials in your kit like:

  • Woollen blankets for protection.
  • Full-coverage clothing made of natural fibres and multiple pairs in the case of fire or smoke damage.
  • Goggles and face masks of the P2/N95 variety for protection against smoke inhalation and irritation. Tea towels and fabric scraps can also work.
  • Heavy-soled boots for safety.
  • A wide-brimmed hat to protect your face against falling ashes.

Storing and maintaining your emergency kit

The efforts to prepare for an extreme weather scenario do not just stop at creating an emergency kit.

It is also integral to correctly store and maintain it to ensure everything is at optimal quality and usable.

Be sure to regularly check on and update your emergency kits as needed to prepare yourself and your family for whatever the future may bring.

Once you have assembled your emergency kit, you can maintain it and its contents by:

  • Replacing expired items with every check-up.
  • Keeping all canned food in a cool, dry place for their preservation.
  • Reconsidering and updating the contents of your kit at least once a year to match your family's changing needs.
  • Store all boxed foods in tightly sealed metal or plastic containers.

Having multiple kits prepared across various locations increases your chances of being prepared for a weather emergency, no matter where you are.

Consider keeping a bag at home, at work, and in the car for quick collection at convenient locations.

Your home kit should also be stored somewhere all family members know about and can easily access.

Community resources and support

If you need an extra hand in preparation for a weather emergency, there are community resources and support services available in most areas of Australia.

National initiatives like NRMA Insurance's Help Nation provide useful information for what to do in the case of an emergency happening to your community.

However, additional resources can be found through NGOs, emergency services, and community outreach programs.

Local emergency services are some of the first responders in the case of a weather event, so knowing how to contact them for aid is beneficial for your safety and a rapid response.

When working in collaboration with community centres and organisations, these services can also provide educational seminars and resources to residents.

By informing them of weather risks and how to mitigate them, many communities can be better prepared for different scenarios.

This need for preparation is summarised best by emergency kits, which provide the essentials for navigating any weather emergency.

By also providing specific kits for different weather scenarios, you can be ready at all times, no matter what Australia's climate throws at you.