74% of Australians unprepared for extreme wet weather, finds Allianz research

Flooded Australian landscape with sign reading 'road closed'.

From one extreme weather event to the next. Last summer Australia experienced devastating bushfires, while this year the Bureau of Meteorology has warned that extreme wet weather events will be on the cards as a result of La Niña. 

This is something 74% of Australians are unprepared for, according to Allianz.

La Niña an unknown entity?

Of course, it’s difficult to be prepared for something when you don’t know what it is. Allianz found that nearly half of Australians don’t know what La Niña is at all. Only 7% of those surveyed had a proper understanding, while 19% were unaware that it was even a thing.

The actual definition? The Bureau of Meteorology explains the event as:

‘La Niña occurs when equatorial trade winds become stronger, changing ocean surface currents and drawing cooler deep water up from below. This results in a cooling of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.’

According to BoM, La Niña usually results in increased rainfall in Australia, cooler daytime temperatures (south of the tropics), warmer overnight temperatures in the north, more cyclones and earlier monsoon onset.

The last time La Niña occurred in Australia was the summer of 2010/2011. If you’re a Queenslander then that year will certainly ring a bell, because that was the summer of the Queensland floods and Tropical Cyclone Yasi. These events resulted in over $5 billion worth of damage. 

False sense of security

Around 30% of Australians believe the country is more prepared to deal with extreme weather, following last summer’s bushfires. However, Allianz’s research found that this confidence could be misplaced, as many Australians are not taking necessary precautions to secure their homes ahead of storm season. In fact, the insurer found that people across the country are spending more time preparing for the Christmas holidays than for extreme weather.

Making a list, checking it twice

While it’s understandable that many Aussies just want to enjoy the holidays in peace, it is also good to be prepared. Allianz’s chief weather officer Tim Bailey says, “I’ve spent 25 years educating and warning Australians of the severe impact and consequences of extreme weather. With bushfires fresh in our minds, we need to let the country know that in La Niña, the weather could take a very different turn.”

Bailey’s top tips include:

  1. Find out what the risk is in your area. Contact your local council or state emergency service to see if you are in an at-risk area.
  2. Put important documents in waterproof bags.
  3. Make sure your gutters are cleared of dead leaves and debris.
  4. Tie down/secure outdoor items that could be carried away in strong winds.
  5. Check your home for leaks and seal ahead of time to prevent water damage.
  6. Keep your vehicle/s undercover if possible.
  7. Make sure portable torches and radios have new batteries.
  8. Make a home emergency plan and share it with everyone else living on the property.
  9. Put together an emergency pack, complete with a first aid kit, food, water and a portable charger.

Lastly, Allianz urges Australians to double check their insurance policies. This means reviewing what you are actually covered for. It should be noted that flood cover is often only available as an optional extra. So, if you live in an area that may be affected by extreme wet weather, make sure your policy will actually cover you come claim time. It may also be worth looking into underinsurance protection.

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