By PETER GEARD*
TASMANIA’S weather can be wild and become severe sometimes without warning. Residents in our wonderful municipality can help to reduce the potential for damage to property and lives just by taking a few small steps.
Firstly, prepare yourself and property. Secondly, take notice of all-weather forecasts regarding flooding, high winds or severe storms, heatwaves and bushfires. You can reduce any damage to property or harm to life by minimising the effect of weather.
For floods ensure all gutters and downpipes are clean, drains are sufficiently cleared to cope with surface and underground water. Beware of mulch and bushes that can block drains. Never drive through flooded water. Brighton SES had to rescue two elderly residents only recently). Do not walk in flooded areas as water can be contaminated and drains or holes hidden. Listen to broadcast warnings or check Tasmanian weather websites and heed the advice.
If high winds and severe storms are forecast ensure you secure all loose items in your yard, especially trampolines and outdoor furniture. Be aware of any trees that overhang fences or that can cause damage by falling limbs. Shelter from hailstorms and put vehicles undercover to prevent any damage. Remember to listen to warnings.
In a heatwave stay hydrated by drinking water, avoid alcohol and carbonated soft drinks. Stay indoors or out of the sun and avoid strenuous exercise or work. If you’re outside, wear lightweight clothing and a wide-brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen. Look after the young and elderly. Never leave children or pets inside vehicles as the internal temperatures are significantly higher than temperatures outside. Make sure your pets have plenty of water and shelter.
With the threat of a bush fire, the best option always is to leave your property early, well before the fire is approaching. Ensure you and your family have a fire plan and can take action when needed. Keep all combustible fuel such as firewood heaps, rubbish, fire-prone vegetation away from your house. Importantly clean gutters. If you do decide to stay and fight, ensure adequate water and fire-fighting equipment is available and working and make sure you wear non-flammable clothing and good footwear. Do not go sight-seeing in areas of fire as this only causes concern and issues for emergency services and can prevent personnel from gaining easy access to properties.
Remember to be alert and prepared to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones.
*Peter Geard is a Brighton councillor and is Brighton’s emergency coordinator