Cyclone Debbie and how to keep your cool in the midst of a tropical thunderstorm

We had an eventful week here on the east coast of Australia. Cyclone Debbie made landfall and brought significant wind damage, rain, floods and dangerous surf to a 1000 km coastline. So far 5 people have lost their lives, over 10,000 homes are without power and several 100 have lost their homes. About 1000 schools were closed and 300,000 students send home which is unprecedented.

Fortunately, we live in an area that was less impacted and neither did we have friends or family effected (besides the occasional cut off roads due to flood waters). The school closure probably had the biggest effect.  But it just meant that that we had to find a way to keep us all organised so that we could attend all urgent work matters (and not go insane at home together in the rain).

So here is our essentials list for when you are stuck at home due to a natural disaster that doesn’t impact you directly.

Know your risk. It is absolutely essential that you know your local environmental risks like floods or bushfire. Usually council or neighbours that have lived in the area for a significant amount of time, can provide you with this information. This will be the pillar for your emergency plan. Luckily we only have a very low flood risk. For us it is all about staying inside the house and avoiding unnecessary road trips.

Water. We always have bottled water at home for emergency situations when drinking water becomes unusable. We also ensure to fill up all empty water bottles as soon as we hear about the emergency. Some people even go that far to fill up the bathtub with water. We live in a metropolitan area close to all amenities and so far we haven’t really seen the need to take such drastic actions.

Food. Some people go crazy in such situations and the first thing they do, they go to the already crammed supermarket and stock up their already full pantries. We are usually well stocked up and if we ever get into a dire situation then we just have become creative with the remaining items in our pantry.

Charge up. As soon as we are aware that an emergency situation is going to happen we start charging all our devices and spare batteries in case of power loss.

Gas cooker.  We have an electric stove top in our kitchen, so a spare gas cooker comes really handy in case electricity is lost. It also serves as a backup camping cooker.

News updates. Set yourself a timer to only check TV, radio or internet updates every full or even every 2nd full hour (unless of course you will be immediately impacted by the disaster). It is so easy to get absorbed by it all and watch the news for the whole day nonstop (which is what happen during our first natural disaster here in Australia). It is actually good to get distracted from the current situation and to turn the anxious energy into something productive.

Neighbours. Check on your neighbours especially the elderly. These type of situations are usually a good time to have a chat and to see how everyone is going . In our case my daughter actually made a new friend with one of the neighbour kids. It doesn’t happen very often that we are at home the whole day. This was a good opportunity to get to know some of our neighbours and to deepen our relationships.

Exercise. Going through a major disaster is very stressful. Most likely you won’t be able to go for a run on your favourite track or swim at the local pool. Therefore, it is imperative to stick to some regular exercise routine to keep your body in shape and your mind away from overthinking. This time I used the 7minute workout and a new discovered app 8fit. Whilst waiting for ex-Cyclone Debbie to come through I did the 18 min Tabata workout from the 8fit app… just what you need to keep your head clear during a big tropical storm.
Kids entertainment. My daughter got quite anxious from the happenings on TV. So we had to get her mind off the current situation with taking turns on playing Osmo, reading eggs and her new colouring in book. She loved sitting next to me and doing “her work” whilst I was busy organising my own work. As bad and horrible natural disaster are, they are a great opportunity to bond as a family and to spend some quality time together. When do you get the opportunity to spend two entire week days out of the blue with your entire family at home and unable to leave the house?

Is your home town prone to natural disasters? What are your tips and tricks to stay calm?

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