What to do during and after an emergency

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) has information to assist you during storms, floods and tsunamis, the Rural Fire Service has information to assist during bush fires, NSW Health has information on how to manage during heatwaves, and the NSW Government has general emergency information. 

Stay informed

The best way to stay safe in an emergency is to be informed. Tune into local radio, websites or other media and listen for advice, instructions and updates. You could also use a battery-powered radio or your car radio, if it is safe to access your car.

Emergency alerts are sent by emergency services to landline telephones based on the location of the handset, and to mobile phones based on the service address. In case of emergency, you may receive a voice message on your landline or a text message to your mobile phone.

Stay in touch with family, neighbours and friends

Sometimes mobile phone service may not be available. Emergency service may ask you not to use your mobile to prevent network overload and ensure phone lines are available for the emergency services. Otherwise, provided that phone networks are still working:

  • send out a text message or call close family members and friends to check they are safe and let them know you’re safe
  • notify Police if family, friends or neighbours are missing
  • let others know of the emergency risk – they may not have heard the emergency warning yet
  • use social media to share emergency warnings

Stay safe

Know what to do and who to contact when an emergency occurs in Lake Macquarie.

In case of a flood, never drive, ride, walk or play in floodwater. Water may be deeper or flow faster than you think. It may also contain hidden hazards and debris.

During extreme heat, children, pregnant or nursing women, the elderly and pets are more likely to suffer the effects of heat. The easiest way to avoid heat-related illness is to stay hydrated by drinking water, stay out of the sun, wear light-weight or loose-fitting clothing, avoid caffeine and alcohol, have a cool shower or bath and seek air conditioned or cooled environments like shopping centres, cinemas or your local library.

When to evacuate

During an emergency, it is important to be aware of the dangers and risks to your safety and when it is likely to impact on you. When deciding whether to stay or evacuate, you need to be aware of and follow any emergency warnings and should not leave evacuation until the last moment.

You may receive evacuation warnings or orders:

  • from Police or other emergency workers
  • through media or official emergency service websites
  • through a government-issued emergency alert to your phone.

When you do receive an evacuation order, it is essential that you follow the instructions. Every home should have an emergency plan and emergency kit prepared should you need to evacuate.

If you have time and it is safe to do so, turn off electricity, gas and water supplies, unplug appliances and lock all doors and windows before leaving.

Where to go during an emergency

During an emergency, if you cannot return to your home, you should:

  • go to the house of a friend or family member, if it is safe, or
  • go to your nearest Neighbourhood Safer Place during a bush fire as a last resort

Returning home

If you have evacuated, it may not be safe to return to your house. You must wait until emergency services give the all clear.

Stay tuned into local radio stations for information, updates and advice. Remember to avoid affected areas, particularly damaged buildings and roads.

People returning to affected areas need to be aware of health and safety risks. Take precautions when travelling in disaster-affected areas and wear protective clothing and enclosed shoes, particularly when clearing debris.

If your property is badly damaged, seek a professional property inspection before entering the house. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to inform them of any loss or damages. If you are not insured, there may be resources available through government or non-government agencies.

Services such as water, electricity and gas may have been disconnected. Contact the service provider for reconnection. Do not attempt to do it yourself.

If you return home and your animal is missing, call us on 4921 0333 or contact the RSPCA. For information on animal welfare during disasters, such as livestock, contact the NSW Department of Primary Industries on 1800 808 095.


Relevant state and federal government authorities, along with other service agencies, coordinate recovery operations to help people and communities recover from emergencies.

Evacuation centres may be established to provide immediate assistance to those evacuated from their homes or who need shelter. If you decide to go to an evacuation centre, you will need to be prepared and take personal items like clothing, medication and bedding with you.

Recovery centres may also be established to provide a one-stop shop for support and assistance.

Council supports leading emergency services agencies to manage and respond to local natural disasters and emergencies.