Defining an emergency

For the purpose of emergency planning, an emergency is any sudden event which:

  • Endangers or threatens to endanger the safety or health of any person
  • Destroys or threatens to destroy or damage property
  • Endangers or threatens to endanger the environment or an element of the environment

Emergency events include:

  • Fires
  • Severe weather conditions
  • Hazardous material spills
  • Flash flooding
  • Utility disruption - loss of gas, electricity, telephone, or water supply
  • Explosions
  • Major infrastructure damage

What are the most important steps you can take?

In thinking about what you and your family or household might do in an emergency, bear in mind you may be in a situation where:

  • You may be separated from each other, for example children at school and parents at work
  • Normal communications might be difficult or impossible
  • Power supplies may be cut
  • You may be injured, and others may be injured or deceased
  • There may be fire or other dangerous elements present
  • Information about the emergency may be limited in the early stages of the event
  • Talk with your family, household members and neighbours about things you could do.

Consider some or all of the following suggested activities

Decide how family members will stay in touch in the event of, or after, an emergency

  • Agree on how you will contact each other if not at home, who will collect family members, and who will check on neighbours
  • Organise an out-of-town person your family or household members can contact in case you are separated. Make a list of that person's contact details (home, mobile and work phone numbers, e-mail) and provide them to your workplace and to your children's school
  • Agree on a place for family or household members to meet if separated
  • Make arrangements for pets to ensure they will be safe and have food and water

Store important documents safely

Store important documents including wills, passports, photos, birth and marriage certificates, powers of attorney and insurance policies in a fire and water-proof container or safe deposit box. Review your insurance policies to ensure they are current and adequate. If you keep them in your home, try to take them with you if you evacuate. Consider arranging authorised copies to be kept at an alternate secure location.

Learn about your home

Find out how and where to turn off electricity, gas and water supplies in your home.

Find out about your local emergency services


Make a record of your local emergency telephone numbers (State Emergency Service, Council, gas, electricity, water, etc. - refer to the front of your local phone directory) and keep them near your phone. Remember to dial 000 for police, fire and ambulance attendance during life or property threatening situations. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, dial 106 through your textphone (TTY) to obtain emergency service attendance. If the SES is required phone 132 500. When notifying the emergency services of your location, ensure you provide the exact street address and the nearest cross roads.

Learn some basic first aid

Knowing the basics of first aid can be very useful in any emergency and you are encouraged to enrol in an accredited first aid course.