Australia’s not always an easy place to live.
To survive, we’ve had to be gritty, resilient, brave – and to help each other.
The following five tips are designed to help you prepare for bushfire season, but most of all, survive.
With the weather getting hotter and drier, the fire danger period in many parts of Australia begins in spring, so leaving any preparation to summer means you may be too late.
For the best results, do your planning all year round.
Most importantly, in the event of a bushfire, don’t risk your life. Getting away from the threat is the safest option.
Leaving the night before or on the morning of a high-risk fire day should be your highest priority.
1. Know where to go for information
Well before fire season, visit your state fire authority’s website (details below) or call them to get all the information you need to be fire ready.
Most have a comprehensive checklist that you should read. Familiarise yourself with the website and any of their social media channels.
Several states also have a mobile phone app that you can download. Also know where to find your emergency broadcaster, such as the local ABC radio channel.
2. Stay informed during fire season
Once fire season begins, make a habit of checking your local fire danger ratings and understand how that impacts the whole family.
Know what your local weather district is so you can access the most relevant and up-to-date forecasts, alerts and warnings. Armed with the latest information, you’ll be better placed to make a good, early decision.
You don’t need to wait for a warning. Bushfires can start quickly and may threaten property and lives within moments.
3. Know your strategy
Before fire season starts, make a decision about which fire danger rating will be your trigger to leave and whether you’ll go the night before or in the morning.
Have a number of routes planned so that you have options in case there's already a fire in the area. Make sure the entire family has discussed plans for leaving, including what to take, what to do with pets or livestock and what will happen if you can’t leave.
Have an emergency kit ready to go that includes important documents, medications, protective clothing, a woollen blanket, and a battery-powered radio and torch, along with spare batteries.
4. Prepare the house
Making sure your house is ready for a fire can increase the likelihood that it will survive. Firstly make sure you have current and adequate Home and Contents Insurance. Clean leaves and branches from your gutters and clear flammable items from around the house.
Take special care to remove potential fuel sources such as woodpiles, outdoor furniture, paint, combustible chemicals, boxes and doormats. If you have LPG gas bottles, turn the valves to point away from the house.
5. Prepare the backyard
Prune any overhanging branches within 10 metres of the house and keep the lawn mown to less than 10 centimetres. Replace flammable mulch in the garden with rocks or pebbles.
Cut back any shrubs near or under windows and tidy the garden of any dry grass, leaves, twigs and loose bark.
For more help and information, check with your local fire service:
New South Wales Rural Fire Service