Call Victorian SES flood & storm response emergency number on 132 500
If you have a life-threatening emergency, please call 000
Preparing for Severe Weather
Severe weather is a general term that covers a range of weather events, from strong and damaging wind gusts, hail storms and heavy rain, to snow, lightning and thunderstorms.
As with any potential emergency situation, preparation is key to help you respond quickly during the event and recover afterwards. To ensure that you are well prepared, the Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) suggests that you:
When floodwater levels have dropped, the recovery process can begin.
Flood waters contain many contaminants and lots of mud, so here’s what you can do to begin restoring your home.
Check for structural damage to avoid being trapped in a building collapse. Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
The electrical system must be shut off, repaired and inspected by a licensed electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring must be completely dried out, even behind walls. Switches, power outlets, light outlets, entrance panels, and junction boxes that have been under water may be filled with mud, and all need to be checked.
Insurance claims: After you’ve had a chance to look around, contact your home and contents insurance company. If your insurance covers the damage, your insurer will tell you what they require. Compile a list of any damage and take photos or a video as you clean. You'll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.
Prevent mould by removing wet contents from your home or business immediately.
Contaminated mud: Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces.
Open windows and doors to expose wet floors to as much airflow as possible.
Scrub every surface with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per 3.5 litres of water or use a product that is labelled as a disinfectant to kill bacteria. Be sure to wear gloves and boots, and seek medical treatment if you injure yourself during the clean up.
Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible or discard them. To clean them, drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odours, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 3.7 litres of water, but don't use this solution on wool or nylon carpets. Dry the carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing the carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean so it should be replaced.
If the carpet can't be removed, dry it as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate air above the carpet, and if possible, lift the carpet and ventilate underneath using fans.
Vinyl flooring or floor tiles may need to be removed to allow drying of the subfloor.
Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying can cause cracking or splitting. Remove hardwood floor boards to prevent buckling. Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Clean and dry wood boards before attempting repairs.
Heating and cooling systems, and ducts, will all need to be inspected and cleaned. Flood-soaked insulation should be replaced.
Wet appliances pose a high safety risk as they can cause electrocution. Get them professionally cleaned and checked, or replace them altogether.
Wallboard acts like a sponge when wet. Remove wallboard, plaster and panelling to at least the flood level. If soaked by contaminated floodwater, it can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed.
Plaster and panelling can often be saved, but air must be circulated within the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.
Dispose of any food stuffs left in fridges that were turned off or exposed to flood waters.
Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities announce that your water supply is safe.
Immerse glass, porcelain, china, plastic dinnerware and enamelware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per 3.7 litres of hot water. Air dry dishes. Do not use a towel.
Disinfect silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach should not be used in this case because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken.
Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.
Furniture and household items
Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible.
Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate your home.
Use fans to circulate air around the house.
If mould and mildew develop, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house.
Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant.
Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mould spores.
Mattresses should be thrown away.
Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned by a professional.
Toys and stuffed animals may have to be thrown away if they've been contaminated by floodwaters.
Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional.
Home grown fruit and vegetables that have come into contact with flood water may be contaminated and should not be eaten.
Any electrical equipment that is connected to an on-site waste water treatment system should be examined by a licensed electrician before the power is switched on. Once the tanks have been pumped out and inspected, make sure that any manholes or inspection openings are closed and secured.