What to do in the event of a cyclone



A cyclone is a violent storm with very high winds rotating around a calm centre of low pressure. Cyclones can cause destructive winds of more than 280kmh, as well as floods, storm surges and widespread damage.

In Australia, cyclones of varying intensity generally occur between November and April each year. The Bureau of Meteorology provides a seasonal outlook, which includes cyclones.

The parts of Australia most at risk of cyclones are northern Queensland, northern Western Australia and the Northern Territory and the typical Australian tropical cyclone season averages nine to 13 tropical cyclones. The strong wind, heavy rain and flying debris caused by a cyclone can extensively damage property. However, damage can be minimised with a proactive approach and planning ahead.

In the mid 1980’s a cyclone building code was introduced for properties built in cyclone-prone regions. This is intended to protect the residents from harm. The code does not mean the building is cyclone proof. It means residential properties must be built to a standard that makes it survivable for occupants. Residential properties are still vulnerable to extensive damage, which can be very expensive to repair. Many strata-title properties also have features that can be badly affected during cyclones, such as underground car parks, lifts, pools and landscaped gardens, annexes and sheds.

Before a cyclone.

If you live in a cyclone-prone area you should assess your risk. Ask your local council if your property is within a cyclone evacuation zone and if your area is prone to flash or riverine flooding or storm surge.

Planning ahead is the best way to protect your family, home, business and assets from cyclones. Insurance helps to do this, so review your insurance policies and ensure your level of cover is appropriate. Your broker at Knightcorp can help with this.

If you are not insured, your recovery will depend on your own financial resources and assistance that may be available from government or non-government agencies.

Prepare an emergency kit.  Your emergency kit needs to be packed and ready ahead of cyclone season. you may be without power and water for several days or weeks after a cyclone, and shops may not be open.

Your kit needs to include:

  • Your cyclone plan and emergency contact details.
  • Important documents like passports, identification, proof of address and insurance information. Store in a waterproof bag to keep safe.
  • Non-perishable food, can opener, cutlery and cooking equipment.
  • Battery-operated radio and lights with spare batteries. 
  • A complete first aid kit. 
  • Toiletries and sanitary supplies.
  • Protective clothing, such as sturdy footwear, gloves and protective goggles/glasses.
  • Spare house and car keys.
  • Special items for infants, the elderly, those sick or injured and people with disability.
  • Spare clothes and shoes for each member of the household
  • Cages, bedding, leads, identity collars, medications and food for your pets.
  • Remember to check your kit regularly in case supplies need replacing (eg expiry dates).

Kit additions once an alert is issued:

  • At least  five days' supply of food, drinking water and medicines for your household, including pets.
  • Medications
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Bank cards and cash (electrical outages can impact ATMs)


Know the cyclone alerts and warnings.


Take practical steps to reduce the damage:

  • Check your home, contents and car insurance cover are in order
  • Identify which room is the strongest part of the house in case you need to take shelter
  • Identify where and how to turn off the mains supply for water, electricity and gas
  • Purchase emergency equipment such as containers to store drinking water, extra fuel supplies, wide masking tape for windows, hessian bags for sandbags.
  • Check the roof and repair loose tiles, eaves and screws.
  • Check for rust, corrosion and general wear and tear.
  • Clean gutters and downpipes.  
  • Trim trees and overhanging branches.
  • Secure loose items that could cause damage in high winds.
  • Consider fitting windows with shutters or metal screens for added protection during high winds.
  • Arranging for a professional builder to check the structural integrity and security of your home is recommended.
  • Store all chemicals and poisons well above ground level.
  • Identify items that you will want to raise if floodwaters threaten your home.
  • Consider alternatives to carpet floor coverings.
  • Relocate electricity sockets and power points to well above floor level.

During a cyclone

During a cyclone, safety is always the first priority. You should enact the plans you made before the cyclone and follow the instructions of local authorities and emergency services. If you are advised to evacuate, take your disaster supply kit, lock your house and follow evacuation instructions. You should tell someone when you leave and where you are going and make sure to check in with local authorities, emergency services and ABC local radio for updates.


After a cyclone

The time immediately after a cyclone is often just as dangerous as the event. Don’t go outside until authorities advise that the cyclone has passed and your region is safe. Don’t be deceived by the apparent calm when the eye of the cyclone passes.

  • Safety is the priority – don’t do anything that puts anyone at risk.
  • Only return to your property when emergency services give the go ahead.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, poles and wires, and fallen trees.
  • If your home is unsafe, notify your local emergency services and check with your broker if you can claim temporary housing expenses.
  • If water has entered the property, don’t turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician.
  • Contact your broker as soon as possible to lodge a claim  and seek guidance on the claims process.
  • Start the clean-up but first take pictures or videos of damage to the property and possessions as evidence for your claim.
  • Keep samples of materials and fabrics to show your insurance assessor
  • Remove water damaged goods from your property that might pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings.
  • Make a list of each item damaged and include a detailed description, such as brand, model, and serial number if possible.
  • Store damaged or destroyed items somewhere safe.
  • Speak to your broker before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs, and ask for the insurer’s permission in writing. Unauthorised work may no be covered by your policy.
  • Do not throw away goods that could be salvaged or repaired.
  • Check your contents policy for food spoilage cover, you may be able to make a claim due to power outage.

Contact Us

Contact a Knightcorp broker to help you decide on the best cover unique to your business and business needs. We are ready to take your call, so feel free to reach out if you have any insurance-related questions. The more we know, the better our policies will look after you.

Further Information

For more information on how to prepare and act when your business or home is threatened by a cyclone, and for the most up-to-date information on cyclones in your local area please contact your states emergency services department:

Fire or life threatening emergencies: 000
SES Emergency Assistance: 132 500
Category: News