A wet winter and good spring growth means a higher-than-average bushfire threat this summer, with hot and dry conditions forecast for the coming months.
This advice, from local Rural Fire Brigade, will help residents and tourists to be prepared.
Medowie Rural Fire Brigade Captain Andrew Collins said, “Now is the time residents should be inspecting and preparing their homes and properties, then follow up again after Christmas.
“Also think about what you’re going to do with your pets and what to do if you’re travelling.”
The following list should be part of your plan:
When will we leave? What will be your sign to leave? It could be smoke in your area, or as soon as you find out there’s a fire near you.
Where will we go? Where’s a meeting place that’s safe and away from a fire area? It might be a friend or relative’s place, or even a shopping centre.
How will we get there? What road will you take? What’s your backup plan in case the road is blocked?
What will we take? Make a list of what you’ll take in the event of a fire. Remember to include pets, identification and irreplaceable items such as photos or documents.
Who will we call? There should be someone we can call to let them know we’re leaving and that we’ve got there safely?
What is our backup plan? What if things don’t go to plan? Identify a safer location nearby such as a neighbour’s home that is well prepared, or a place of last resort.
If you decide to stay be sure you are well prepared by asking the following questions:
● Are we putting anyone in our family at risk by staying? For example children, the elderly, or people with asthma.
● Will we cope in an emergency situation? In a fire, it will be physically and mentally draining.
● Do we have all the equipment we need? Go through all the items on the RFS Decide to Stay checklist and see what’s missing. Make a commitment to get all equipment by a specific date.
● When there is a fire, what is our sign to start defending our home? It could be as soon as you find out there’s a fire near you. Do not wait for an official warning.
● Do we know what to do before, during and after a fire? Study the Decide to Stay action checklist.
● What is our back-up plan? Consider unexpected events such as if one of us is home alone, if we aren’t home, if the fire moves faster than expected or if the phone lines and electricity are down.
It is not safe to stay with your property under some circumstances, such as if the fire danger rating is Catastrophic; if there is an Extreme fire danger rating and your home is not specially designed or constructed for bush fires; or if your property is not well maintained.
Under these circumstances you should always leave early.
Remember that bush and grass fires can move quickly and catch you off guard. If you are caught in a fire, protect yourself from the heat.