What to do during and after a disaster

During a disaster/emergency

In the event of a disaster or emergency, you need to stay calm, follow your prepared emergency plans and, if possible, tune into a local ABC or commercial radio station to stay informed and follow instructions from authorities promptly.

Rules of thumb

The following are some handy rules of thumb depending on your situation and the type of disaster or emergency:-

  • Cyclone/storm tide – run from water – 'Shelter in place' from wind;
  • Riverine flooding – stay with friends in high places;
  • Bushfire – if you are going to leave, leave early;
  • Hazardous material accident – stay upwind or stay inside;
  • Tsunami – go inland one kilometre or go up ten metres;
  • Dam release – get out and move to higher ground quickly.

Make sure you remember to:

  • Check weather updates and if local roads are closed.
  • Do not enter flood waters (for example roads, causeways, creeks etc.). Not on foot, rubber dinghy, body board or in your vehicle. If it's flooded – forget it.
  • Check on neighbours and people who may need your assistance.
  • Think about the needs of your animals (pets) and where you will take them.
  • Look out for fallen power lines.
  • Check that your drinking water is not contaminated and ensure your food safety. Visit the Queensland Health website for further information on community health during disasters.


Evacuation involves the planned movement of people from an unsafe or potentially unsafe location to a safer location, and their eventual return.

When evacuations become necessary, you will be told through the media or by other warning methods. These methods include sirens or telephone calls using the emergency alert system. This includes an SMS message to your mobile or a voice message to your landline within a defined geographic area.

Types of evacuation

  • Self-evacuation: No formal authority required, you can choose to self-evacuate at any time if you don't feel safe. But please let someone know that you are evacuating and where you are going.
  • Voluntary evacuation: The Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) in consultation with the District Disaster Coordinator will ask people in a particular area to voluntarily evacuate.
  • Directed evacuation: You are ordered to 'evacuate now' by the authority of the District Disaster Coordinator. At this stage council will advise what evacuation centres will be opened.

Note: A declaration of a disaster situation is required for directed evacuation.

National Registration and Inquiry System (NRIS)

During an emergency, registering with NRIS can help people reconnect with family and friends.

Note: This NRIS service is launched only during emergency situations.

After a disaster/emergency

Returning to normality after a disaster may be quick or difficult and prolonged.

If the event has been severe, the Local Disaster Management Group will establish a recovery committee to:

  • ensure people's wellbeing
  • rebuild essential infrastructure
  • help economic recovery
  • rehabilitate the environment

Food Safety

Please read the Food Safety Update and the Food Safety In An Emergency leaflet for recommendations on what to do after an emergency. If you have water tanks, it is important to read this Fact Sheet

Staying safe and healthy after storms, cyclones and floods

Click Here

Mental Health and Wellbeing Support 

The Red Cross has published a series of resources to help people recover from the effects of disaster.

Crisis support is available through organisations such as Lifeline. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or log onto the Lifeline website.

The National Recovery and Resilence Agency provides information about mental health and wellbeing support before, during, and after a disaster. Talking to a professional can help you process your reactions and develop healthy coping strategies.

Funding assistance

Following major disasters, the State and Federal Governments offer assistance. Crisis support is available through organisations such as Lifeline. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or log onto the Lifeline website.