The cyclone season officially runs from 1st November to 30th April each year. It is very important to remember however, that cyclones have been known to occur in every month of the year.
The State Emergency Service has the responsibility of being the Lead Combat Authority for cyclone operations, and has much information available regarding preparation for cyclones, actions to take during cyclone alerts, and general information associated with any of the possible outcomes of cyclone impact. Inland communities sometimes become complacent about cyclones, but this places both the individual and the community at risk - cyclones can damage and devastate an inland community as much as one on the coast.
Please read below for further details on how to prepare for a cyclone, or alternatively click on the quick links.
- What is a Cyclone?
- Pre-Cyclone Season Preparation
- Alert Stages and Procedures
- All Clear
- Public Warning System
- Your Responsibility
- Sanitary Precautions in the Home in Natural Disasters
- Human Excreta
- Garbage Disposal
- Cyclone and Flood Fact Sheets
A cyclone is an area of extreme low pressure characterised by rotating winds around a central calm "eye". The most destructive winds are closest to the eye, with damaging winds sometimes extending over one hundred kilometres from the centre of the cyclone. A cyclone often produces large amounts of rain. So in addition to damage from wind gusts, flooding may occur within the affected area, associated catchment area and river basins.
In severe cyclones, wind gusts in excess of 280 km/hr can and do occur.
One of the most important things that any individual can do is to prepare their property for the cyclone season. Preparing property means that damage from a cyclone impact is minimised. This may contribute to the saving of both life and property.
The State Emergency Service recommends that the following be undertaken before the season commences.
- Clean your residence or work area of unwanted materials and rubbish.
- Trim trees of excess height and growth to enable them to withstand higher winds. Council's annual free clean-up takes away any rubbish.
- Clear drains of rubbish or obstructions.
- Have available emergency supplies - first aid kit, torch (and batteries), canned food, portable radio (and batteries), drinking water containers.
- Decide where best to shelter your pets.
- Organise tie down areas and supplies for caravans, boats, trailers, etc.
Alert stages come in two varieties. The meteorological bureau issues watches and warnings, and the State Emergency Service issues Alert stages in terms of colour. The State Emergency Service uses the watches and warnings to determine community alert stages.
A cyclone has formed and may affect the area within 48 hours. Check the following:
- Clear your area of all loose material and rubbish.
- Check cyclone screens are available or securely fitted in place.
- Emergency supplies are at hand.
- Tie down equipment is available for boats, trailers, caravans, etc.
- Observe economy in the use of water.
The cyclone is moving closer and appears inevitable within 12 hours. Carry out the following activities:
- Ensure that all loose material and objects around buildings are securely fastened into position.
- Check that all cyclone screens are securely fastened into position.
- Tie down boats, caravans, trailers, etc.
- Prepare safe shelters for pets and animals.
- Top up vehicle fuel tanks.
- Fill emergency containers with water and make sure all other emergency supplies are at hand.
The cyclone is imminent:
- All personnel should make arrangements to be in their residences/shelter areas when the cyclone arrives.
- Ensure pets / animals are safety sheltered.
- Park your vehicle in a sheltered area, apply hand brake, and engage park or reverse.
- During the height of the cyclone, keep clear of windows and stay in the most sheltered part of your house.
Should the eye of the cyclone pass immediately over the area, the wind will temporarily drop and then blow in the opposite direction.Except in extreme emergencies, stay indoors until the cyclone all clear is announced.
If you are unavoidably caught in an unprotected area, make your way stooping or crawling, to shelter. Otherwise lie down and hang on. Continue to listen to your radio each hour for up to date instructions affecting your area.
The cyclone has passed the area but there may still be high wind and heavy rain. When venturing outdoors, do so with caution.
- Check for the following danger items:
- fallen trees, live power lines.
- broken water and drain lines, loose sheeting or debris.
- Commence clean-up activities as soon as possible.
- Report dangerous situations to the relevant authorities.
This information is available from your local SES unit on a Cyclone Action Card. Your local SES unit also has available information on tie downs, cyclone tracking and another guides to surviving cyclones.
The above alert stages are available on the local radio and television stations in your region. Coloured Lights and flags in some towns also indicate alert status.
In Onslow: Two Coloured flags are located at the Shire.
In Tom Price: Coloured flags are located on top of Snake Hill - opposite the area W bridge and lights are located out the front of the Visitors Centre.
In Paraburdoo: Coloured flags are located at the Police Station.
In Pannawonica: Coloured flags are located at the Police Station and Flashing Coloured Lights are used at the same location.
It is your responsibility to be prepared and be informed. If your neighbours are unaware of the above, do your bit and educate them. If a cyclone forms, track it and do your preparations early. If they are not needed, it doesn't matter, but if they are needed you have protected yourself, your family and your friends - you have done the right thing to help your community to ride out a cyclone impact.
For any further information please contact your local State Emergency Service Unit.
Normal household services and facilities such as water supply, water disposal and food preservation may break down in disasters such as cyclone, earthquake, flood and fire, with risks to your health. Mains water supply may be polluted or may be cut off altogether. Sewerage systems, septic systems or sanitary pan collection may not operate. Garbage collection and disposal may be impossible. Electric power failure or fuel shortage may put refrigerators, deep freezers and cooking appliances out of action, spoiling your food supplies, and perhaps making it impossible even to boil water for drinking.
Set out below are some things you can do until normal services are restored. Listen for further advice on your radio.
Water of doubtful purity should be boiled.
If there is no power or fuel, water can be made safe for drinking by:
- Adding concentrated household hypochlorite bleach, up to 10 drops per litre and leaving for 30 minutes. More than 10 drops may be needed if the water is very turbid or the bleach very old. If the right amount has been added, the water treated should smell faintly of chlorine; or
- Adding 'Milton' (baby's bottle steriliser) in the same proportions as for bleach; or adding chlorine based water purifying tablets e.g. 'Puritabs' which, after contact with water for 30 minutes, destroy most pathogenic organisms. Add one tablet to one litre of water, shake well to dissolve the tablet and allow to stand for half an hour. Where the water is suspected of being highly polluted, two tablets per litre can be safely used.
Take care not to waste water. Dirty water, polluted water or even sea water can be used to flush toilets. You can wash with a cupful of clean water and a soapy cloth. If the water is cut off, save the water in your hot water system for drinking, cooking and kitchen use. Turn off power to the hot water system.
Do not use a sewerage or septic system if there is no water to flush the toilet;
- If household or street sewers are broken; or
- If the area in which you live is flooded.
Dig a latrine trench of minimum dimensions 30 cm wide, 60 cm deep and I metre long in your back garden, piling earth near one end of the trench. After each use cover the excreta with at least 10 cm of soil. When the trench is half full, fill in completely with soil and pack it down, then dig another trench.
During floods excreta may have to be held for several days in covered containers (buckets, garbage bins, empty drums) to prevent environmental pollution and access of flies to fresh excreta. Rotting food and vegetable scraps may be added if there is no other way of getting rid of them. The contents of these containers should be buried later, or may be flushed down the toilet with plenty of additional water when the sewerage or septic system is operating again.
All garbage containing food scraps must be protected from flies and rats by wrapping or placement in a sealed container. Rotting garbage should be burned in an incinerator, or put in a deep pit and covered with soil.
Eventual food spoilage cannot be prevented if refrigerators or deep freezers are not operating, but it can be minimised by:
- Cooking and eating perishable non frozen foods first;
- Opening your refrigerator or deep freeze only to take food out to eat, and as infrequently as possible leaving bottles or cans of drinks, water containers in the refrigerator to act as a 'cold source';
- Storing cooked foods, butter etc. in an improvised "Coolgardie safe" (a well ventilated container covered with a wet blanket, sheet or towels in a shaded breezy place):
- Supporting your refrigerator or front opening freezer on its back on the floor to prevent cold air escaping when the door is opened;
- Discarding rotting or tainted food (bury or incinerate) before it taints other food.
Fruit and vegetables which have been contaminated, but are otherwise edible, should be wiped or brushed and then can be sterilised by soaking in a solution of Tincture of iodine, household bleach or 'Milton' at double the strength recommended for purifying water.
Last updated: 9 December 2016