Residents guide to safety during a severe weather event

Brisbane City Council has put together a guide to help residents access important information quickly in the event of an emergency. Find information and links to help you understand:

Flood warnings

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is responsible for providing forecasting and warning information. Council works in partnership with BOM to interpret warnings and provide advice to Brisbane residents on possible flood impacts and effects.

Understanding flood warnings

BOM issues a number of different types of warnings before and during weather events which could result in flooding in parts of Brisbane. Triggers to listen and watch out for include:

  • flood warnings, severe weather and thunderstorm warnings, especially those mentioning the possibility of flash flooding
  • tropical cyclone warnings including warnings of storm tide
  • prolonged heavy rain
  • rising creeks and rivers, and localised pooling of water.

Where to access warnings

Warnings are sent from BOM to media, Council, Department of Emergency Services and other agencies involved in managing severe weather and flood response activities. The list below identifies ways for you to access warning information.

The wailing siren that has been used in Queensland for tropical cyclones (called the Standard Emergency Warning Signal) can also be used for other major weather and flood events. You may hear it on radio or television prior to advice about a flood, cyclone or storm. To hear a sample, visit the State Government Warnings Website.

Interpreting flood warnings

For the Brisbane River and creeks where specialised rainfall and river height gauges have been installed, flood warnings and river height bulletins will describe flooding as 'minor', 'moderate' or 'major'. You will hear these terms in weather forecasts so it is important that you are familiar with what they mean.

Minor flooding - Causes inconvenience. Low-lying areas next to watercourses are inundated which may require the removal of stock and equipment. Minor roads may be closed and low-level bridges submerged.

Moderate flooding - In addition to the above, the evacuation of some houses may be required. Main traffic routes may be cut by flood waters.

Major flooding - In addition to the above, extensive areas are inundated. Properties and suburbs are likely to be isolated and major traffic routes likely to be closed. Evacuation of people from flood-affected areas may be required.

Find out more using Council's Flood Awareness Maps.

Brisbane Severe Weather Alert

The Brisbane Severe Weather Alert service allows residents in the Brisbane City Council Local Government Area to register for and receive severe and urgent weather alerts via email, SMS, and/or home phone, which may affect their residential address.

Find out how to register for Brisbane Severe Weather Alert.

    Risks during floods

    Flood waters can be dangerous. Be aware of the following:

    Drowning - Ensure children do no play in or near stormwater drains. During a flood, water moves quickly through drains that may be dry for most of the year.

    Currents - Don't walk or swim in flood waters. As little as 15 centimetres of moving water can knock you off your feet.

    Electrocution - Stay clear of fallen powerlines and electrical wires. Electricity passes easily through water.

    Contamination - Wash your hands and feet with soap if you do come into contact with flood water. Sewage or chemicals can be found in flood water.

    Slipping - Tread carefully. Slippery surfaces can cause falls and injuries.

    Wildlife - Be aware that there may be displaced and stressed wildlife inside your home and yard. Wildlife lose their homes in flood too.

    Driving and road safety

    Roads often become flooded before water affects homes. It is important that you stay informed of local road conditions to prevent you and your family from becoming isolated.

    Many drivers rescued from flood waters report that they were in a hurry to get home to safety as a reason for tempting the danger of driving into water. Regardless of the type of car and despite what car commercials show, driving into flood waters is dangerous considering:

    • most flood-related deaths occur at night and involve cars driving on flooded roads
    • creeks and rivers can rise very quickly and the road surface can also wash away making the water much deeper than it appears
    • once cars are swept downstream they will often roll to one side or perhaps flip over entirely. The driver and occupants have little time to escape the vehicle

    Road conditions

    You can access traffic and travel information from the Queensland Government's 13 19 40 website or by phoning them on 13 19 40.

    Public transport

    If you do need to evacuate, remember that public transport services may not be reliable due to service interruptions or diversions around flood waters. Visit the Translink website or phone 13 12 30 for public transport information.


    It is natural to want to stay and protect your home and valuables. In times of emergency, the State Emergency Service (SES) will provide assistance and support, including sandbags, to help you protect your property.

    However, as flood waters rise, dangers increase and evacuation may be required.

    Council works with may government and community groups to manage flood events as smoothly as possible. If you are asked to evacuate, do so immediately. You may consider finding safer temporary accommodation such as a friend or relative's house. If you are evacuating voluntarily, remember to tell a relative or neighbour where you are going.

    Emergency shelters can change depending on where the water is. Contact Council or listen to the radio for information bulletins on your nearest centre.

    Before you evacuate, remind your family or other household members of your central contact point in case you get separated. Make sure each household member has important phone numbers with them.

    Who to contact if you are affected

    • Life threatening emergencies (Police/Fire/Ambulance) - 000 (mobiles 000 and 112)
    • State Emergency Services (SES) - 132 500
    • Energex - 13 19 62
    • Brisbane City Council - 07 3403 8888
    • Red Cross Register. Find. Reunite. system - once you have registered, it will help your friends and family locate you

    During a flood you may also need to contact a range of people and services for assistance such as:

    • medical providers (doctor or hospital, health fund)
    • service providers (plumbers, electricians, gas and electricity providers, vet)
    • financial providers (bank, insurance provider, real estate agent)

    Frequently check Council's website, Facebook page and Twitter to stay up-to-date with information during a severe weather event.

    More information

    Last updated:

    Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.