Be Storm Safe

Need emergency help during a storm? Call SES on 132 500.

Severe thunderstorms are the most common type of storms in New South Wales, causing more damage than any other short duration weather event.

While they can occur at any time, severe storms are most likely to hit Sydney from October to March. They can last from 10 minutes to several hours, with very strong winds, heavy rain and hail causing flash flooding, power outages and damage to property.

Be prepared for storms by following these simple steps:

Prepare your home

  • Clear guttering and downpipes of leaves, trim trees and remove overhanging branches so that they are well clear of your home. You may need approval from Council before pruning or removing your tree. Penalties apply for unauthorised tree work. To check if you need approval, please view information about Trees.
  • Check and secure tiles or roofing sheets.
  • Protect skylights with strong wire mesh, and fit windows and glass doors with shutters or external metal insect screens.
  • Clear your yard of loose materials and rubbish that may blow about and be dangerous.
  • Prepare an emergency kit of:
    • Portable radio, torch, spare batteries
    • First aid kit and manual and strong plastic bags.
  • List your emergency phone numbers.
  • Check your home insurance is up to date and adequate.
  • If you own a boat, check that it is securely moored or protected on land.

When a severe storm threatens

  • Listen to your local radio station for storm warnings.
  • Go online via your smart phone or PC to Bureau of Meteorology website for warnings.
  • Shelter and secure pets and animals.
  • Put garden furniture, toys, etc inside. Fill empty garbage bins with water to hold them down.
  • Park vehicles under solid shelter or cover with firmly tied tarpaulins/blankets.
  • Secure all external doors and windows and draw curtains.
  • Put valuables, medications and spare warm clothing in plastic bags with your emergency kit and keep it handy.
  • Disconnect all electrical items, external TV/radio aerials and computer modems.

When the storm strikes

  • Stay inside and shelter well clear of windows, doors and skylights.
  • Listen to your portable radio for severe thunderstorm warning updates.
  • Go online via your smart phone or PC to Bureau of Meteorology website for warnings.
  • If outdoors, seek solid enclosed shelter (not a tree or metal structure).
  • If driving, pull over and wait—if possible in a spot clear of trees, powerlines and streams.
  • Don’t use a fixed telephone during a thunderstorm due to lightning danger.

After the storm passes

  • Beware of fallen powerlines, damaged buildings and trees and flooded watercourses.
  • Listen to your radio for storm updates.
  • Go online via your smart phone or PC to the NSW State Emergency Service website for advice specific to your local area.
  • Check for damaged windows, walls or roof.
  • If you don’t need help, check on and help your neighbours.
  • Don’t go sight-seeing.
  • To report stormwater flooding, call Council on 9952 8222.
  • To report a pothole, call Council on 9952 8222 or report online.
  • For emergency assistance:
    • Call the SES on 132 500
    • In case of power failure, fallen powerlines, electrical problems—call your local power supplier
    • In case of gas or water supply interruption or emergencies—call the relevant local supplier
    • To arrange permanent repairs to your home, call your insurance company for a claim form
    • For information on power outages, visit the Ausgrid website.

Insurance information and resources

The Insurance Council of Australia has put together tips for what to do after the immediate danger of a storm passes. 

Once you have checked your home for damage, they advise you should:

  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible to lodge a claim. If you are not insured, your recovery will depend upon your own resources and help that may be available from government or non-government agencies
  • Speak to your insurer before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs. Ask for the insurer’s permission in writing; unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy
  • If your home is unsafe, notify your local authorities and check with your insurance company whether you can claim temporary housing expenses
  • Take photographs or videos of damage to property and possessions, and keep samples of materials from damaged goods, as evidence to support your claim. This will be used by your insurance assessor to process your claim as quickly as possible
  • Remove and discard any water or mud-damaged goods that pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings, but remember to take photos and keep samples of materials and fabrics
  • Keep any items that could be repaired and if in doubt speak to your insurer
  • Do not be concerned if you can’t find your insurance papers. Insurers have electronic records and only require your name and address.

 Source: Insurance Council of Australia Storms page