From May to October each year, severe storms and heavy rain can cause major destruction to the southern half of Western Australia.
Storms are the most common natural hazard in Australia - and unfortunately, they can be wildly unpredictable. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to help protect your house and car from potential storm damage.
Days before a storm hits
Trim trees and shrubs
To prevent them from falling and causing damage, trim low-hanging branches on trees around your property and also trim shrubs and other foliage that could clog gutters.
Secure outdoor objects
Check for any loose outdoor objects on your property, such as furniture or outdoor play equipment, and either store or tie them to avoid them being blown around and causing more damage. Wind-borne objects can blow into power lines and cause damage.
Keep your pet under shelter
If your pets are kept outdoors, make sure they have adequate shelter in case you’re not at home when a storm hits.
Create an emergency kit
To be prepared for potential power outages or electrical issues within your home have an emergency kit. Items within your storm kit could include a torch with spare batteries, a first-aid kit, a battery-operated radio and a power bank which can store power to charge up devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers.
In case of a power outage, make sure your phone is fully charged before a storm approaches. Western Power's live power outages map is a good resource for checking outage-affected suburbs.
Move your car under shelter
Whenever your car is parked at home, if possible, make sure it’s parked in a garage or under a carport.
If you are unable to park your car under shelter at home, consider parking close to a building which can offer partial protection from high winds and rain. Avoid parking your car under or near large trees due to risk of them falling in the storm and damaging your vehicle.
Monitor your electrical appliances
If there is lightning or you've lost power, unplug and turn off your electrical appliances, and avoid using your landline telephone as it could deliver an electric shock.
If flood waters are expected, move your appliances to a higher spot in your house.
When a storm hits
Use sandbags if there's a flood risk
In the event of flooding, DIY sandbags can be made by filling plastic bags or pillow cases with sand.
If you're away from home, find appropriate shelter
If you find yourself outdoors when a storm hits, be sure to take shelter away from any trees, power lines, metal objects, stormwater drains, rivers, creeks or streams.
If you're driving, pull over
As per the SES storm guidelines, if you're driving during a storm, pull over and park until them storm passes. Ideally, avoid parking near large trees or power lines.
Weeks before a storm hits
Clear your gutters, downpipes and drains
Blockages in gutters and downpipes can cause rainwater to overflow into a house’s roof cavity so it’s essential to clear your gutters, pipes and drains at least once a year to avoid a leaky roof, overflow or water damage.
Clear tree branches that are close to overhanging power lines
Engage a qualified contractor to ensure large, overhanging tree branches that are near power lines or parts of your home's exterior are cleared and well-maintained.
Fix any roof damage
It’s important to check your roof for signs of damage once every 12 months. Damages may range from impacted roof sheeting to broken tiles, or damage to the insulation inside of your roof.
While these routine checks are an adequate short-term fix, it’s a good idea to have your roof professionally inspected every five to seven years. This will enable more complex issues to be identified and remedied.
Take photos of your car's interior and exterior
Before a storm hits, it’s a good idea to have images of your car’s interior and exterior in case you need to make an insurance claim.
Revise your home and contents insurance
Regularly review and adjust your home and contents cover to include new renovations and additions around your house to ensure you're not left out of pocket if you do experience storm damage. This could include swimming pools, porches, sheds or new appliances or products.
After a storm
Assess property damage and take photos
If your home was damaged during a storm, take photos in case they're needed for insurance claims but be cautious around debris and structural damage.
Keep in mind that if you attempt any repairs yourself, especially if you cause further damage, it may not be covered under your insurance policy.
If you have major damage such as a collapsed roof or ceiling where you need urgent assistance, contact the State Emergency Service (SES). They can help with temporary emergency repairs, but cannot clear debris or organise permanent repairs. Contact your insurer for permanent repairs.
Check and report fallen power lines
If a storm has brought a power line down near your home and you're close to your phone, call 000 immediately and wait for Western Power to arrive and make the area safe. If you're unable to reach your phone, stay where you are and wait for passers-by to report the incident for you.
Remember, anyone reporting the incident must stay at least eight metres away from the damaged power line.
In case of an emergency
Critical assistance: State Emergency Services (SES) 132 500
Weather warnings: Bureau of Meteorology bom.gov.au or 1300 659 213
Road conditions: Main Roads 138 138
Damaged power lines: Western Power 13 13 51
Emergencies only: Police, Fire or Ambulance 000
Vehicle breakdown: RAC Roadside Assistance 13 11 11
Have you experienced storm damage?
RAC Insurance can help you get back on your feet after a destructive storm. Our local claims team are ready to help, seven days a week.
Last updated May 2020