The Mosman SES unit is staffed by over 30 active volunteers recruited from Mosman, Neutral Bay, and Cremorne. These volunteers train weekly at their headquarters on Gurrigal Road and receive additional specialised training for situations like storm response and flood rescue.

We spoke to volunteer, Justin Gallego to share the eight simple things that you can do now to prepare your home and help reduce the potential damage caused by severe storms.

1. Maintain your yard and balcony

Strong winds can pick up even large items such as outdoor furniture, trampolines and roofing iron causing damage to windows, roofs and cars. Try to keep items around your property tidy. Identify things which you may need to secure or put away if strong wind or a severe storm is forecast.

You may like to include this information in your plan. Storms can affect your home even if you’re on holiday, so if you are going away consider securing these items and following other relevant steps before leaving.

2. Clean your gutters, down pipes and drains

It is important to keep your gutters and down pipes clear as blockages can cause the water to overflow under the eaves into the roof cavity. Clear leaves from the valleys of your roof as these will make their way into the gutters in heavy rain.

Keep the drains around your property clear to help surface water move away and prevent water from pooling and entering your property. Pot plants in courtyards and around houses are often used to hide drainage grates. Make sure to move these if heavy rain is likely. Remember to park away from low lying areas and drains if heavy rainfall is expected.

3. Trim trees and branches that could potentially fall on your home or property

Check with your local council about any guidelines or required consent applications. Remember, your safety is important so contact a qualified (and insured) arborist or tree surgeon for advice if necessary. Have a qualified arborist inspect trees every 2-3yrs to identify any preventative action necessary.

Root damage is a major cause of tree failure so take care when digging or excavating around trees. Remember to park your car away from trees if strong winds and severe storms are predicted.

When planting trees and shrubs, consider the mature size of the tree and use this to guide the planting location. Select healthy (self-supporting, not girdled) specimens and use good techniques when planting. Speak with a trusted nursery or garden center for more information.

4: Fix any damage to your roof, including broken or missing tiles

Your roof should be checked every year (or after major events such as hail storms) for signs of damage. Fix any cracked, broken or displaced tiles. Buildup of dirt should be removed as it can block the drainage channels on the underside of tiles. Damaged roof sheeting may need to be patched or replaced.

Check inside your roof space. Light shining through may indicate that your roof or sarking (waterproof insulation membrane) is damaged. Working on a roof can be dangerous so we recommend you contact an expert tradesperson if in doubt about your capacity to check or maintain your roof. Have your roof inspected by an expert tradesperson every 5-7 years. They can identify and remedy issues such as re-pointing, re-bedding and replacing the ridge or hip caps.

5: Check your insurance policy is current and adequate

Consider things like the type of cover (building insurance for home owners and mortgagees, contents insurance however is applicable for everyone). Consider also what level of cover you are insured for. Make sure that your insurance policy provides cover for the types of events specific to your location, these may include: flash flood, storm water runoff, associated landslip (or landslide) and damage to properties by trees. 

6.  Make a Home Emergency Plan

Consider where you’ll go and how you’ll get in contact with each other along with any special circumstances or considerations for your household. Remember that storms and other emergencies can happen at any time of day so think about where members of your household may be (school, work, commuting), how you’ll get in touch with them and where you can meet up. Try to identify how you will manage in these circumstances and who you may be able to get additional support from. Make sure that everyone knows what the plan is.

Avoid Floodwater: Never walk, drive, or ride through floodwaters. It’s dangerous and can be life-threatening.

7.  Prepare an emergency kit

Think about the sorts of things you’d need in an emergency. It can be difficult to find these items in a power out or if you need to leave home in a hurry. An emergency kit contains most of these items in a sturdy, waterproof container. Remember to keep it in an easy to access location.

See the NSW SES website for more information on other items you’d include in an emergency kit. Remember to include items such as any essential medications and prescriptions, important documents and your emergency plans.

8.  Listen to your local radio station and other media for weather warnings

Your local radio station will broadcast information specific to your area. This information can help you identify things such as flash flooding locations to avoid, road closures, evacuation and recovery centers. Power often goes out during storms and water can affect electricity outlets within your house so make sure you have battery operated torches and radios with spare batteries.

If you require help during severe weather, don’t hesitate to contact the SES on 132 500.