Main Menu

If someone's life is at risk, or it's an emergency, please call 000!

Your guide to dealing with natural disasters

Artwork: Community of Colours by Beck Field, 2021

Cyclones, storms, floods, bushfires, droughts and more...

Australia experiences various kinds of natural disasters - and there are many services in Australia that provide great information, guidance and support around preparing for a disaster, staying safe during a disaster, and recovering after a disaster.

Whether you're stressed about the possibility of a future disaster, going through a one-off natural disaster, going through your annual wet season, or rebuilding life after a disaster, this info and resources can help:

Teen boy leaning against a wall

Things you can do before a disaster

Australia has services that work hard to prevent disasters, respond to them quickly to prevent them getting worse, emergency information systems to keep you informed about how to stay safe, and services that can help during and after a disaster.

You won't always know in advance if a disaster is about to happen. But, if you think that a natural disaster is headed your way, here are some things that can help:

  • Always follow the guidance of the professionals who are acting to keep you safe
  • Take action to prepare - check out the Red Cross for resources and this Emergency Preparedness Guide for things to do
  • Talk to parents, guardians, or teachers about your worries and fears
  • Stay informed by reading news online or listening to local radio; the Bureau of Meterology will keep you informed about weather events
  • Gather any personal belongings and pack a bag in case you need to leave quickly
  • Keep pets in a secure room or fenced area so they are safe
  • Stay close to parents, family, friends – avoid going places by yourself
  • Do things to create a 'sense of safety', e.g. take some calming breaths, listen to music, etc.
  • Remind yourself that help and support is always available

Return to top of page

During a natural disaster - staying safe

Dealing with a natural disaster - as it's happening

Natural disasters are incredibly stressful. Sometimes, you're so busy doing things to stay safe - stuff like packing bags, evacuating, caring for and supporting others, etc., that you don't really have time to stop and think until it's all over.

But, some disasters can happen more slowly. You can manage your anxiety by taking care of yourself and others. It can also be helpful to focus on practical things you can do to help, such as looking after younger siblings or pets.

    Return to top of page

    Emergency services

    The safety of you and the people you care about is the most important thing. Please contact these Australia-wide services for help in an emergency or disaster.

    There may also be local groups or services in your community who can help.

    Return to top of page

    How can I expect to feel after a natural disaster?

    Different people react differently, depending on their personality and situation. Generally though, most people will experience some or all of these impacts when they’re going through a natural disaster event:

    Physical – you may have injuries due to the natural event. Some people have to evacuate or are 'displaced' and need support to meet their basic needs (like food, water and shelter) and may experience financial stress or hardship

    Spiritual – questioning your beliefs, faith, or asking a higher power for help; on the otherhand, some people also experience a deepening of their beliefs and faither after a disaster, and a sense of purpose

    Body symptoms – stress-related headaches or stomach pains; some people might also experience excitement due to adrenaline/crisis (which is also a totally normal response)

    Social – changes to friendships, relationship troubles with family or siblings; many people also report an increased sense of connection to community after a disaster

    Emotional – feelings such as grief, fear, anxiety, sadness, guilt or depression; you may also experience other feelings, too, like curiosity, gratitude, love and relief

    Thought/mind – repetitive thoughts, nightmares, or trouble concentrating; thoughts aren't always negative, with people after a disaster sometimes reporting that they feel emotionally stronger, and like they are more resilient/able to cope with issues in the future

    Ways to deal/cope with a natural disaster

    Recovering from a natural event can take time. Allow yourself to feel numb or ‘strange’ for a little while after – it’s your body’s natural response to a scary situation but things should soon return to normal.

    There are also practical things you can do to help return to 'normal' (or the 'new normal' if things have changed). Getting back to your old routine, or starting a new one can also help to create a 'sense of safety' as things feel a bit more in-control and predictable. 

    And don't forget to self-care as much as you can - sleep, rest, exercise and looking after your bodies other basic needs (drinking water, eating nutritious food, etc.) all affect your wellbeing.

    It's also important to draw on any of the supports and coping strategies you had before the disaster happened. For example, spending time with friends, or doing things you enjoy.

    A lot of people find it really helpful to take part in the recovery effort in different ways, and this is a great way for communities to connect, come together and build resilience.

    Return to top of page

    Mental health warning signs

    Most people bounce back after a disaster with a bit of time and support. However, some people may experience distress or trauma and need some additional support.

    Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

    • Being withdrawn or avoiding others
    • Increased use of drugs and alcohol
    • Wanting to hurt yourself or others
    • Finding it hard to focus and concentrate
    • Constantly feeling scared, unsafe, or worried
    • Feeling very sad or hopeless most of the time
    • Not being able to talk about it or bottling things up
    • When two months have passed and you feel the same/worse


    Return to top of page

    "The floods taught me I was stronger than I thought I was. Even though it was bad, the way the whole community came together was really nice."

    -Anonymous Year 10 student

    Mental health resources

    If you're struggling with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, these resources will help improve your wellbeing.

    Want to share your experiences with other young people who are going through challenges ✨just like you✨?

    Join My Circle - the free, private, safe and confidential social platform for 12-25 year olds. Share your thoughts, get helpful info, and lots more.

    Teen girls walking together
    This content was last reviewed 26/09/2023

    High school sessions

    Kids Helpline @ High School also offers free mental health sessions on a variety of topics to high schools in Central, North and Far North QLD.

    Talking helps! We’re here for you.

    No problem is too big or too small.
    We're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week