Prepare your home for an emergency

By carrying out regular maintenance on your home and property you can reduce the potential damage from an emergency or disaster.

General maintenance

Inspect your roof regularly for loose or damaged tiles that need to be repaired or replaced.

Remove leaves and debris from drainpipes and gutters so water can drain away quickly.

Repair or replace damaged drainpipes and gutters.

Trim trees and overhanging branches - be careful of overhead powerlines.

Remove dead and dry vegetation from around the house.

Check and fix building corrosion, rotten timber and loose fittings.

Repair doors and windows to ensure proper sealing.

Secure or put away loose items in your garden or on the balcony that could cause damage if blown around in high winds.

Check that your house number is clearly visible from the street.

Prepare for a bushfire

Your home and property - Country Fire Service (CFS)

Prepare for an earthquake

There are simple things you can do around your home and business property to reduce the risk of injury or damage to property damage during an earthquake.

Do a walk-through of your home or business to locate safe places to DROP, COVER, HOLD:

  • look for strong tables or desks that can provide shelter from falling debris
  • look for places next to an interior wall away from:
    • windows that can shatter
    • tall furniture and hanging objects that can tip, fall or drop on you
    • fire places with chimneys that can topple over and fall through the roof.

Move furniture and items such as bookshelves and pictures and mirrors away from beds, sofas or anywhere you sit or sleep.

Fix potential hazards in your home or business:

  • install latches on cupboards
  • secure top-heavy furniture and appliances to walls
  • keep wall and ceiling fixtures away from where you sleep or sit
  • strap water heaters correctly to the wall
  • store flammable or hazardous materials on lower shelves or on the floor
  • store heavy or fragile items on bottom shelves.

Get qualified advice to make sure your home complies with the Building Code of Australia and fix any potential weaknesses.

Make sure your insurance, covers you for earthquakes.

Quake safe your home - NZ Earthquake Commission.

Prepare for a flood

Move household items to a higher place:

  • use ceiling space and upper floors, if these areas can support the extra weight
  • stack possessions on benches and stable furniture, placing small electrical items on top
  • roll-up and raise floor coverings.

Move vehicles, outdoor equipment, chemicals and poisons to higher ground.

Relocate animals and stock to higher ground and secure your pets.

Secure objects that are likely to float.

Protect valuable items in waterproof containers, covers or plastic bags.

Raise or empty fridges.

When a warning of imminent flooding or evacuation is given by the authorities you'll need to turn off and make your power and water supplies safe.

Private dam maintenance

Private dam maintenance and management in emergencies - Department for Environment and Water SA


Sandbags won't stop floodwater completely but they can reduce the amount of water entering your home if the flood level is low.

Use sandbags for:

  • indoor drains to prevent sewerage back-flow
  • blocking water from getting in from the bottom of doors
  • areas around your home that are low-lying and where floodwater could get in.

Unfilled sandbags can be supplied by the SA State Emergency Service (SES) or your local council. Otherwise you can buy sandbags from most hardware or garden supply stores. As a last resort, strong plastic bags can be used for indoor use.

Watch this Sandbagging demonstration or follow the instructions below.

Filling sandbags

  • Fill bags with sand. Only use dirt as a last resort.
  • Fill the sandbags two-thirds full. Don't overfill as you won't be able to lay them properly or lift them.
  • Don't tie the tops.

Laying sandbags

  • lay sandbags like brickwork
  • stagger rows so that the joins don't line up
  • start at one end and work to the other end
  • make sure the unfilled part of the bag is covered by the next bag
  • tuck the flap under the bag at the end of the row
  • if the sandbag wall is going to be more than five bags high, you'll need to lay two rows wide
  • flattening the top of the sandbag row, before adding the next row will help the structure.

Placing sandbags

place the sandbag in the toilet bowl
place sandbags across doorways
put plastic sheeting on the ground and overlap sandbags over the plastic sheeting

Prepare for a heatwave

Get your home ready before summer.

Service your air-conditioner so that it's working before you need it. Clean and replace air filters according to manufacturer's instructions.

Have curtains with pale linings in rooms that get a lot of sunlight, to help reflect the heat.

Consider putting shading such as external blinds or shutters on windows in rooms that face west.

Create a cool area to go to during the heatwave. Ideally the area:

  • can be cooled using indoor and outdoor shading
  • has a fan or air-conditioning.

Check that your home can be properly ventilated without compromising security. Have insulation in the ceiling and walls to help keep the house cool.

Was this page useful?

Provided by: SAFECOM
Page last updated 21 October 2021

Provided by:
Last Updated:
Printed on:
Copyright statement:
SA.GOV.AU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2021