Words by Amelia van der Rijt
Bushfire season is once again upon us, and with temperatures tipped to soar ten degrees above average, the NSW Rural Fire Service is urging all residents to get prepared.
“I can’t risk firefighters’ lives to send them in to protect a property where the effort hasn’t been made to protect it in the pre-season.” NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Orana team manager says. “My plea to the public is: Help us help you.”
So what do you need to do to prepare for a bushfire?
First off, ensure your household has a bushfire survival plan. Fire can travel and change direction rapidly, and firefighters may not be immediately available in your area. It is crucial that you know whether you will stay and defend or evacuate. You should also ensure you have an appropriate back-up plan.
Next, consider ways that you can make your home more fire-resistant. Many plant materials are highly flammable, so ensure you cut back any overhanging plants, keep the grass short, and clear away dried leaves and plant waste. You should also check your hoses, ensuring you have at least one that can stretch to reach every part of the house.
Creating a survival kit is another must. In a water-proof container, include torches, a battery-operated radio, a first aid kit, blankets, copies of important documents, a pocket
knife, and emergency phone numbers. If you have to leave, remember to add other essentials like credit cards, a change of clothes, drinking water, and medications. And don’t forget to prepare for your pets – ensure they have appropriate identification, food and water. Make sure the kit is easy to access, and that every member of the household knows its location.
Lastly, familiarise yourself with the different fire danger ratings, for example, a ‘catastrophic’ rating means that you should leave as soon as possible. Make sure you also understand important terms such as ‘emergency warning’, ‘watch and act’, and ‘advice’.
For more information, a detailed guide can be obtained from the NSW Fire Service website, and apps for iOS and Androids are now available. ‘Liking’ your local fire station and emergency services on Facebook can also help ensure you are up to date on any fire activity in your area.