Back in January (storm season in Queensland) , we headed up to Hervey Bay for some last minute R&R prior to the school year starting again.
It was the Australia Day long weekend actually. My in laws who we were staying with were (as always) extremely over prepared for our arrival. Right down to what flavour ice blocks the kids would be having at the 4pm happy hour that takes place each day.
Sadly on the day we left our home in the country the gray clouds started to roll in. By the time we hit Hervey Bay, it was pretty damp and we made it clear to the kids that there would be no going to the beach until things began to dry up a little. Things weren’t to dry up for days though as the weather system left over from Cyclone Oswald bore down on us like you wouldn’t believe.
I was keeping up to date with the weather warnings on Facebook and all sorts of other social media as my boredom from being stuck in doors was driving me up the wall. On Sunday 27th of January, I walked outside to tell Mr MMM how I had just read on Facebook that Bagara, the coastal town just north of Hervey Bay had just experienced a tornado.
I remember him looking at me and going … ok. In that sort of half believing not believing way.
As night fell the winds that had been increasing all day started to raise alarm in our minds. By the time we got all of the kids to bed, Mr MMM and I kept staring at each other, both wondering if this was going to be the storm the authorities all warn you about and urge you to be prepared for.
I said it first…where is the safest place to be with the kids do you think?
Mr MMM replied quickly with the bathroom. I knew behind those worried eyes was a man that had been thinking about how to protect his family.
My next question was, do you think we should throw some supplies in there? Like nappies maybe?
Mr MMM never replied and the next thing he was throwing together a supply pack for the bathroom.
I was worried about how we were going to logistically grab three kids that were currently fast asleep. Mr MMM said he would grab the girls and I was to run with Lil D.
Our plan was in place and we laid awake that night waiting for that moment when we knew we would have to run. At one point there was a large bang on the house and I thought it was the large gum tree in the garden. Turns out it was the In Laws caravan being blown 4 metres back into the verandah. Thankfully we didn’t have to deploy our plan and as the morning light started to brighten outside, we were all wide awake looking around and wondering when the wind and rain would end.
We were extremely lucky that weekend. The house we were in, whilst quite water logged due to windows leaking from the shear force of the wind, everything was ok. Most of all we were safe.
Being prepared and having a plan in place in the event of a weather event is now something I consider to be essential for us as a family wether we be at home in the country or back up in the Bay with family.
Are you prepared for storm season?
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF WHEN LIGHTENING STRIKES
Severe storms can result in flashes of beautiful, yet terrifying, lightning bolts across the sky. According to The University of Western Australia, around 2,000 thunder storms occur globally at any one time, producing up to 100 lightning strikes per second. The power of lightning is immense and it can inflict a great deal of damage, especially if you are unprepared. For this reason, it is helpful to understand how damaging lightning can be during a storm, learn what safety precautions you can put in place and follow some practical tips to better protect yourself and your family.
WHAT IS LIGHTNING?
During a lightning storm, charged particles in the atmosphere get imbalanced due to the collision of particles of ice, snow, or rain. Storm clouds end up with a separation of positive and negative charges, with the latter being on the bottom of the clouds. On the ground, objects become positively charged. The result is a discharge of electricity between the positive objects and the negative storm clouds. This is a lightning strike. A strike may also happen horizontally, between two storm clouds.
Lightning is powerful, common, and deadly. Around 100 strikes hit the earth every single second, and each one may be carrying up to one billion volts of electricity. Lightning is also very hot: the air around a strike can be heated up to a temperature five times hotter than the surface of the sun. Close to 2,000 people are killed worldwide each year by lightning with even more suffering injuries. Lightning can also cause damage to property by starting fires, felling trees, and striking homes.
DON’T GET STUCK AND BE STRUCK
By better understanding lightning and how you can avoid strikes, you can help prevent harm or possibly even death to you or your family members. The first important safety measure is being aware of the weather. If a storm is in the forecast, avoid being outside during that time.
If you are outside when a lightning storm starts:
➢ Get inside as soon as possible
o Try to avoid water and objects that conduct electricity. Do not stay in open space or under tall objects or any structure which could collapse.
➢ If no shelter is available:
o Crouch down with your feet close together and head tucked down. Crouching helps to make your contact with the ground as minimal as possible. If you are in a group, spread out and keep people several metres apart.
PROTECT YOUR HOME AND BELONGINGS
When lightning strikes, it has the potential to cause damage to property. A strike can fell a tree or start a fire and it can also get into your home through the wiring, causing further damage.
There are several things you can do to make your home more lightning-proof:
➢ Keep your trees well-maintained:
o Strikes on trees are very common and felled branches can destroy your roof or other parts of your home. Keep your trees well-maintained and be sure dead branches are removed. Make sure you contact your local council before you perform this task as the trees may be dangerously close to power lines.
➢ Unplug appliances:
o Before a storm hits, unplug appliances including radios, televisions and computers. During the storm, avoid using electrical appliances and phones that are not cordless or wireless.
Finally, for financial protection, check that you have the right home and contents insurance to cover you and your family’s home and belongings in the possible event of severe lightning.