Smoke billows over a dry grassy hill

As the bushfire disaster continues to ravage NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia into 2020, and the death toll continues to rise, we all need to have a bushfire survival plan in place.

Read our Blog on Bushfire Crisis Info for information and resources!

As we returned from the break over the festive season, our own region in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains is under imminent threat of a firefront more than 100km long, after months of catastrophic bushfires throughout New South Wales in 2019. 

People with disability and older people are particularly at risk in natural disasters. A disaster of this scale and magnitude though is extremely concerning. Check on your neighbours or people you know to be at risk or isolated in your community.

It is important to listen or read the information supplied by the relevant authority, in NSW, the NSW Rural Fire Service and in Victoria, the CFA, through several channels, including social media, traditional broadcast television, through their websites, the Fires Near Me apps and the Bushfire Information line (see below). If you are told to leave an area, do so as quickly and calmly as possible.

Only stay to defend your property if you are well prepared, able and willing to risk your life.

In NSW, the NSW RFS is the principle authority during this natural disaster event and is being supported by the SES, Fire and Rescue NSW, Police NSW and local and state government bodies, including Family and Community Services and Department of Primary Industries.

A mass exodus of holidaymakers throughout Gippsland, the NSW South Coast, Koziuscko National Park and waterways such as Blowering Dam, has been ordered but with services and supplies cut in many areas already ravaged by fire, evacuation of tourists and locals has been slow and communication inconsistent.

Be prepared! Read our Packing for an Emergency blog.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received criticism from media, the opposition and bushfire survivors for his leave of absence to Hawaii as well as his perceived apathy and inaction on both climate change and the current bushfire crisis.

Australia has always had bushfires, but the scale of what we have seen in 2019 and into 2020, is unprecedented. This is a continent-wide disaster, with many months of the fire season to go and no significant rainfall forecast in the foreseeable future. More than 1000 homes have been destroyed and more than 5 million hectares razed, not to mention the loss of life. Firestorms have been massive and intense, with tinder-dry, drought-impacted areas being razed in short order. 

With hazardous levels of smoke lingering across the nation's eastern seaboard for extended periods, and with acrid smoke even billowing across the Tasman to New Zealand this week, people with respiratory and breathing difficulties, including asthmatics, are advised to stay indoors and to limit physical activity. 

Read more on how to Beat the Heat and find out ways to stay well in a heatwave.

RFS volunteers say they have never seen anything like it and with resources and volunteers stretched across hundreds of firefronts, the RFS is warning communities in the fire's path that there is little they can do and the safest thing to do is get out early. For people with disability, getting out early may be critical. 

For more information, contact the NSW Rural Fire Service on the Bushfire Information Line on 1800 679 737 (NSW RFS) or visit 

To report a fire emergency, call Triple Zero (000). 
If you have a hearing impairment Internet Relay – ask for Triple Zero (000). Captioned Relay – ask for Triple Zero (000). SMS Relay – write text and include 000 in your first message. Ordinary phone – dial and ask for Triple Zero (000). – dial 106.

Read more on Emergency calls via the National Relay Service

Bush Fire Information

Listen to local media, especially your local ABC Radio
Check social media like NSW Rural Fire Service Facebook Page, especially your local branch.

Bush Fire Information Line 1800 679 737
If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 679 737. Speak and Listen users phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1800 679 737. Internet relay users connect to the Relay Service and then ask for 1800 679 737.

IDEAS does information so you can do life.