Beware the calm before the storm, warn strata professionals

With devastating storms, bushfires and heatwaves wreaking havoc across the country, one local body corporate company is warning Cairns unit owners to be prepared for extreme weather, despite current conditions.

Archers the Strata Professionals Cairns office manager Stephen McCulloch said the hot weather in recent weeks should not discourage residents from preparing for bad weather, as storms could appear suddenly during the regions’ monsoon season.

“Each year local residents wait with dread during this season as we’ve become accustomed to dangerous storms impacting our region, bringing strong winds, hail and flash flooding,” Mr McCulloch said.

“Despite recognising warnings and the signs of a looming storm, early preparation is the key for residents hoping to avoid damage to their units and body corporate common property.”

Mr McCulloch said the series of natural disasters in recent years proved storm preparedness was more imperative than ever before.

“Queensland is a beautiful tropical state, but unpredictable weather remains an unwelcome reality during this time of the year. Unit owners must be ready and adequately equipped to deal with testing conditions during these summer months,” he said.

“This part of the north coast continues to be prone to extreme weather events; Early in 2015, we saw Cyclone Marcia damage many homes, as well as Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and Cyclone Larry in 2006, which both caused significant destruction throughout Northern Queensland.”

Mr McCulloch said in periods of pristine weather, some residents forget the importance of home and contents insurance, or become complacent and reduce their level of cover.

“These are the conditions that breed complacency to natural disasters in Australia,” he said.

“The sudden onset and multi-million-dollar damage caused across the region by Cyclone Marcia last year highlights the need for unit owners to be prepared, not just by securing their homes, but by checking they have the correct level of insurance prior to the event.”

“Unit owners must be aware that a building’s strata insurance does not cover the personal belongings in their unit, so it’s vital for residents to have up-to-date contents insurance for their home or investment property.” he said.

“Anyone who is unsure of their current level of protection should make this their first priority going into the cyclone season.”

Mr McCulloch urged local residents to prepare for cyclone season by considering the following eight tips:

1. Fix broken items – repair any broken windows, latches or doors to avoid further damage
2. Notify your body corporate immediately if you see any tree branches that are too close to your building
3. Check your insurance policy – confirm you are covered for contents insurance, as the building’s strata insurance does not cover the personal belongings in your unit, and have these documents handy
4. Secure your property – ensure items like furniture and pot plants are either securely fastened to balconies and verandas, or removed.
5. Prepare common areas – clear away any rubbish and ensure all loose items are secured. This includes outdoor furniture, pots and plastic pool furniture (which can be placed in the pool to avoid it blowing away)
6. Unplug electronic devices during a storm, including the TV, computer, stereo and modem
7. Have a disaster kit ready to go, packed with a first aid kit, fresh water, batteries and a radio.
8. Update your body corporate manager about your property’s damage and any damage you notice on common property as soon as possible.

For further information on how to be cyclone ready, please visit your local council website.

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