After an emergency

Arrive home

If you were home during an emergency or have just arrived home after an emergency you need to:

  • be able to look after yourself if help doesn't come
  • be aware of any dangers and take steps to protect your health and safety
  • help others, including neighbours, if it is safe to do so
  • apply first aid  if people are injured and, if it is a life-threatening situation, dial Triple Zero (000) and ask for Ambulance.

Let your emergency contact know that you are safe or that you have arrived home safely.

Stay tuned to your local ABC radio station. Information may change quickly so check regularly for updates and heed any warnings.

Secure your home

If your home and property have been damaged in an emergency or disaster you'll need to make sure it is secure against further damage.

If you own your home

If you're the owner of the property you are responsible for organising security of your home while you wait for an insurance assessment. Your insurance company will provide you with advice and, if a representative is in attendance, they can organise a contractor to make your home secure. The insurance company may refuse to pay for any losses that occur after the disaster if you have not taken steps to secure the property.

How to secure your home

You'll need to take reasonable precautions to protect your home from the weather and potential theft or vandalism.

Cover any holes in the roof or walls. Make sure that any doors, windows or openings are secure and only approved access to the site is allowed. This can be done by locking and securing external doors and openings. If necessary, use plywood sheeting or install temporary fencing which can be hired or purchased from hardware stores.

If you are renting

If you rent or lease the house you need to tell your real estate agent or landlord so they can organise site security.

If an urgent repair is required eg burst water pipe, gas leak or dangerous electrical fault every effort should be made to contact the agent or landlord. If the agent or landlord or the nominated repairer can't be contacted you can have the repair carried out by a person who is licensed to carry out the work. The repairer is to provide the landlord with a report on work carried out and the cause of the damage. You will be entitled to recover costs of having the repairs carried out from the landlord.

If you are a Housing SA tenant

Contact the 24/7 Maintenance Centre on 13 12 88.

If your home is part of an investigation

If your home is part of an investigation, it will be the responsibility of the investigation officer or police officer to secure your home. They will put barrier tape around your home to prevent entry as it may not be safe and could compromise the investigation.

If you need to go into your home an investigation officer or police officer may go with you. Once the investigation is finished they will give control of your house back to you.

Power and water

Utilities such as electricity, gas and water are likely to have been shut off or disconnected during a disaster.

The suppliers for your power and water supplies will need to send a qualified tradesperson to inspect and repair any damage to your services and arrange for them to be reconnected.


To report electricity outages or fallen powerlines and to check updates visit the SA Power Networks website or phone 13 13 66.

Reconnection of supply to properties requires confirmation of the safety of electrical wiring, which requires an Electrical Certificate of Compliance from a qualified electrician. Customers who don't have access to an electrician can contact the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) on 8272 2966 or 0402 384 999.


For natural gas supply outages contact your gas supply company and for gas leaks phone the free 24-hour Gas Emergency and Leak Reporting Service on 1800 427 5325.

Mains water

To find out if your mains water supply is safe to drink or to report a fault in metropolitan and country South Australia contact SA Water.

SA Water customer service - 1300 650 950

SA Water 24/7 fault report line - 1300 883 121

See the SA Water website for information on:

Phone and internet services

Contact your service provider.

Related information

On this site

Electrical work including installing appliances
Reporting gas leaks
How to turn your gas supply on and off

Safe drinking water

After an emergency or disaster your household drinking supply may be unsafe. This includes tap water from the mains or a private water supply from a rainwater tank connected to your roof. If you live in a rural area this may also include a tank connected to a nearby stream, bore or well.

Safe water is needed for drinking, cooking and cleaning. This includes preparing food, washing utensils and surfaces, brushing teeth, hand washing, making ice, bathing and drinking water for pets.

The following amounts of water are required per person per day until your normal water supply is safe:

  • drinking and food - 2.5 to 3 litres
  • basic hygiene - 2 to 6 litres
  • basic cooking - 3 t0 6 litres.

You should monitor public announcements or contact SA Water to find out when tap water is safe to use.

If there is evidence of contamination, rainwater tanks and tanks connected to a bore or well should be tested for water quality before using again.

Surface water eg - streams, rivers and dams shouldn't be used for drinking without treatment.

Sources of safe water

If you haven't included adequate supplies of safe drinking water in your emergency kit, the following information can help you treat water to ensure it is safe.

Bottled water should be used if the normal water supply is unsafe.

If bottled water isn't available:

  • tap water and rainwater tanks can be treated to make small quantities of water safe
  • water can be sourced from SA Health registered drinking water providers.

Water treatment

Small amounts of water can be treated against microbial contamination and made safe to drink.


The simplest and best method to treat water is to boil it - eg in a kettle.

Water contaminated by chemicals (including fuels) will not be made safe by boiling. Use a different source of water if you know or suspect that water might be contaminated with chemicals.

The flat taste of boiled or treated water can be improved by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another several times or by allowing it to stand for a few hours with a loose fitting cover so that it is exposed to the air.

Chlorine treatment

When boiling is not practical the simplest, most effective method of making water safe is using common unscented household bleach containing chlorine.

Find the percentage of available chlorine on the label and use the information in the following table as a guide to disinfect the water.

Available chlorine

Drops per litre of clean water

1% 10
4-6% 2
7-10% 1

Stir the water thoroughly and allow it to stand for thirty minutes.

The water should have a slight chlorine odour. If not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for an additional 30 minutes.

Do not pour water onto chlorine. Always add chlorine to water. Always mix the chlorine in the open air.

Other treatments

Other simple ways of treating water to make it safe for drinking purposes include:

  • chlorine tablets can be purchased from pharmacies, and camping and outdoor stores
  • micro filters and purifiers can be purchased from camping and outdoor stores.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.

Storing water

Your drinking-quality water should be stored in a clean container in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.

Rainwater tank treatment

If it is suspected that water from a rainwater tank is unsafe - eg contaminated water entered during a flood or if a dead animal is found in the tank, the tank should be emptied and cleaned.

If cleaning isn't practicable eg - water is required immediately or it's the middle of summer the tank can be disinfected using chlorine. Refer to SA Health water treatment methods.

Tank connected to a stream, bore or well

It is not always possible to tell if ground water from a stream, bore or well is safe for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

If you suspect that the water is unsafe seek advice from your local council. Do not use this water until you can be sure that is safe.

Non-drinking water

Untreated water from sources including swimming pools, rivers and streams, and seawater can be used for non-drinking water quality purposes such as flushing toilets, washing clothes and watering gardens (not fruit trees and vegetables).

Once water is restored

When the mains water supply is restored, turn on taps for at least two minutes to flush out sediment in the pipes.

For rainwater tanks - and tanks connected to a stream, bore or well - get advice from your local council environmental health section.

Related information

Other websites

Water quality factsheets - SA Health
Water quality and health - National Health and Medical Research Council

Waste management

For replacement of rubbish and recycling bins contact your local council.

It is recommended that you do not move any non-household rubbish or waste until you have checked with your local council on the volume of waste to be sent to landfill stations. If you require temporary bins for this transportation contact your local council. Scrap metal, concrete and bricks should be separated as some materials can be recycled.

The EPA provides advice on waste management issues and disposal of burnt items from bushfires, including:

  • CCA treated timber
  • contaminated water in rainwater tanks
  • chemicals
  • bushfire-affected animal carcasses
  • building rubble
  • waste water disposal.

Zero Waste provides a service to households and farmers for disposing of certain types of hazardous products.

Hazardous waste - on this site.

Use the Zero Waste SA Recycle Right directory to find out about recycling options.

More disposal and recycling options for hazardous products include:

  • ammunition, explosives and flares - contact your local police station
  • car tyres - use Recycle Right
  • the national ChemClear for advice on the urgent disposal of chemicals - phone 1800 008 182
  • the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme for televisions and their associated products such as remote controls and keyboards can be dropped off free of charge at various locations throughout the state
  • to recycle mobile phone and accessories find a drop point from the Mobile Muster website
  • most hardware stores accept all types of household light globes for free. Find your nearest store here.

Dead animals

If it is a small animal, such as a pet or wildlife you may wish to bury it on your property. However, if you are unable to do so contact your local council or vet.

In the case of larger animals, such as stock and wildlife you should contact your local council.

For advice to landowners and farmers on the safe disposal of large numbers of animal carcasses contact the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on 8204 2004 or for further information refer to bushfire-affected animal carcasses.

Related information


Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)

Phone (Metropolitan) - 8204 2004
Phone (Country) - 1800 623 445

Emergency toilet

If you do not have access to a working toilet you can make one yourself or purchase a toilet kit (waste container, seat and privacy shelter) from your local camping or outdoor store.

Make a bucket toilet

A bucket toilet can be set up in a bathroom or laundry.

Use watertight containers such as kitchen rubbish bin or a bucket with a snug fitting cover.

Line the container with plastic bags.

Pour or sprinkle a small amount of household disinfectant such as chlorine bleach into the container each time the toilet is used to reduce odour and germs.

Keep the toilet covered.

Remember to dispose of waste in accordance with local council and health regulations.

Related information

Other websites

Emergency toilets - New Zealand, Wellington Region Emergency Management

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Page last updated 15 December 2016

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