Natural disasters like bushfires, cyclones, floods and storms can strike anywhere at any time, and they often leave a trail of destruction, damage and loss.
After the immediate danger subsides, residents begin to clean-up and repair their damaged homes and many are unaware that they need to be cautious of building materials made of asbestos.
The deadly fibres of asbestos can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer along with other serious diseases if breathed in, and the danger increases once the deadly material has been disturbed.
Asbestos may be present in a number of building materials used around the home. These include the exterior walls, internal walls (especially in wet areas), fencing, roofing, shingles and siding, eaves, backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring and water or flue pipes.
While it can be hard to know if your home or business contains asbestos, it was a common building product right up until the mid 1980s, so you should assume that if your home is built before then there's a likely risk.
There's a real concern that residents may start the clean-up process without appropriate protection, and you must be aware that it's better to be overly cautious when dealing with anything you think could contain asbestos.
Resources are available to help you deal with asbestos products in the home including a number of helpful government and non-government websites, such as the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.
Nearly five decades since the Wittenoom asbestos mine closed down, the effects of the deadly dust are still being felt across Australia with hundreds of people being diagnosed with related diseases each year.
The dangers of asbestos should never be underestimated and I urge home and business owners who are repairing properties after natural disasters to be cautious and involve authorities if you have any concerns.