If you live next to or near bush, you could be at risk of bushfire this summer.
Leaving before a fire is the safest option to protect yourself and your family. Remember, on hot, dry, windy days, fires can start and spread quickly. Waiting to leave means a drive that normally takes a few minutes could take hours, or you may not be able to get out at all.
How to prepare before a bushfire:
Prepare your property: Reduce the risk of fire damage to your property by mowing your lawn and clearing grass, scrub and other vegetation from around your home. Clear gutters, roofs and down pipes. Store anything flammable, such as firewood, rubbish and gas bottles away from your house and fences. See more tips here.
Check Fire Danger Ratings daily: Fire Danger Ratings tell you how dangerous a fire would be if one started. The higher the rating, the more dangerous the conditions. Use Fire Danger Ratings to decide when to leave before a fire starts. On Code Red, Extreme or Severe days, leaving early is the safest option.
Know what to do: It’s important to have a plan for what you’ll do ahead of fire risk days. Talk to your household, family or neighbours about when you’re going to leave and where you’ll go on a fire risk day (a built up area away from grassland or bush). Make sure everyone understands how you’ll decide to leave, how you’ll stay in contact, and where everyone will go.
Monitor weather conditions: It’s up to you to stay informed. Always keep an eye on the conditions outside by looking around and smelling the air for smoke on hot, dry, windy, days. You may be aware of a fire before emergency services. If you see smoke or flames, call Triple Zero (000).
Check fire warnings: Fire warnings are issued when a fire has started and you need to take action. Make sure you understand the three levels of warnings and what they mean. To view warnings for your area, go to emergency.vic.gov.au, download the VicEmergency App, check CFA's Facebook page and Twitter, listen to local radio or ring the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226. If you have a hearing or speech impairment contact VicEmergency Hotline via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677. Or if you don’t speak English call 131 450 for translated information from the VicEmergency Hotline.
Don’t rely on official warnings, bushfires can start quickly and threaten lives and properties within minutes.
What to expect:
If there's a fire nearby, you can expect:
Embers carried by the wind that may create small fires: In strong winds, embers (burning twigs, leaves and debris) can travel kilometres in front of a fire, causing new fires to start. Ember attack is the most common way houses catch fire during bushfires. So even if you don’t live right next to bush, your property could be affected by fire caused by embers.
Lots of smoke: Smoke will make it hard to see and can cause breathing difficulties. Stay indoors and keep all windows and doors closed, place wet cotton towels or woollen blankets around the bottom of doors and window sills and don’t use your air conditioner. Remember, smoke may lead to traffic congestion and accidents so stay off the roads.
Radiant heat: Radiant heat is the heat created by a fire. If there's a fire close by, it's important to cover up any exposed skin because radiant heat can cause serious injury or death. Wear a wide brimmed hat, eye and face protection, a long sleeved shirt, long pants and socks all made from natural fibres such as cotton or wool, and sturdy leather boots and gloves. Distance is the best protection against radiant heat, so it is important to be as far away from the fire as possible.