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Helicopter with a bucket attached flyer over hills that are on fire

It’s that time of year again and with the relentless drought that Australia is in at the moment, we should all take some time to make some changes to ensure that our homes, pets, and selves are safe during the high fire danger season. People with disability and older Australians need to take particular care to prepare and plan for the worst-case scenario, as there can be added levels of difficulty for these groups to evacuate safely.

Bush Fire Season

How Fireproof is Your Plan?

Bushfire season has come early last year with fires breaking out across Northern and Mid North Coast of NSW in the final days of October. The NSW Rural Fire Service has a useful guide for making a bush fire survival plan. By taking just 20 minutes to go through the guide and discuss and plan with your family, you are improving your chances of survival in the event of an emergency situation. Should you stay? Should you go? These are things you need to decide before disaster strikes.

It’s a simple fact. If you and your home are well prepared, you stand a better chance of surviving a bush fire. This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires where 173 people died in country Victoria. To find out if your plan is up to the task, go to www.myfireplan.com.au and answer a few questions online, download a copy of the guide below or contact the NSW Rural Fire Service (see below) for a hard copy.

Download: Bush Fire Survival Guide

Contact details

Bushfire Information Line: 1800 679 737 (NSW RFS)
NSW Rural Fire Service: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au 
Your Bushfire Survival Plan: www.myfireplan.com.au

How do you know if there are bushfires near you?

If there are fires in your area, you should use the NSW Rural Fire Service Fires Near Me service and tune in to your local ABC radio or news channel. As the official emergency broadcaster, the ABC is your most reliable media source in emergency situations. ABC Emergency is an online hub where all emergency warnings issued by the national broadcaster are collected. Know what the different warning levels mean and know what you are going to do based on those warnings ahead of time. It’s important to plan ahead!

ABC Emergency

Radio: Tune to your local ABC Radio or stream online via the ABC Listen app 
Frequency finder: www.reception.abc.net.au 
Web: www.abc.net.au/emergency 

Fires Near Me

There are some excellent smartphone apps available that can keep you advised and informed about bushfires in your region. These apps are available on both the Apple and Android app stores:

Fires Near Me NSW
Fires Near Me Australia
Emergency +

The Fires Near Me apps plot all currently active fires on a map with graded warnings depending on the severity of the fire and the situation at hand. The app can advise app users of bushfires nearby, and the level of threat from fire. There are three levels: Advice (blue), Watch and Act (yellow) and Emergency Warning (red). Data is pushed to these apps directly from the NSW Rural Fire Service and you can also set up specific watch zones which will allow you to receive instant notifications if a fire starts in the specified area. You can also access this information and any major fire updates from the RFS, from any web browser.

AIDER Program

The NSW Rural Fire Service AIDER program is run to help you prepare your home by reducing bushfire hazards as well as changing smoke alarm batteries. Contact NSW RFS or your local fire station (not an emergency number) so Fire and Rescue NSW can assist you.

Older people and people with disabilities who have limited home support from family, friends or other support systems who live in homes that are deemed at risk. Check with NSW RFS for full eligibility criteria. This is a one-off free service to help you reduce bushfire hazards around your property and home. This service can help you by:

  • Removing leaves, sticks and fallen branches from your property
  • Mowing or slash long grass
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Trimming branches from around and overhanging the home

Contact details

Phone: 1800 679 737
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/aider

Fire safety in the home

Smoke alarms

Always make sure that your smoke alarm is working. Smoke alarms do save lives! Once a month, test your smoke alarm batteries. To do this, press and hold the small Test button, usually found on the face of the smoke alarm, for at least five seconds until you hear the beeps.

It is also a good idea to regularly dust off or vacuum your smoke alarm every 6 months, or twice a year. Once a year, you should replace lead or alkaline batteries. You should replace all smoke alarms with new 10-year lithium powered smoke alarms every ten years.

Tips for making a house fire evacuation plan

  1. Check your smoke alarms
  2. Find two ways out
  3. Plan for everyone (including your pets)
  4. Have a backup plan
  5. Choose a meeting place
  6. Involve all family members in planning

Did you know?

Faulty wiring and outlets are one of the top causes of house fires.

Tips to keep your house safe

  1. Check electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires
  2. Do not pinch or cover electrical cords with items such as rugs.
  3. Understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips – both allow you to plug in multiple electric devices but ONLY the surge protector will help protect these devices.
  4. Never be careless in the kitchen
  5. Keep a fire extinguisher available
  6. Clean out your dryer vent regularly
  7. Clean out the lint filter in your dryer after each load
  8. Have a fire blanket within easy reach of the oven and/or stovetop.

christmas disaster picture id108350966

Silly Season

With Christmas, also known as the silly or festive season, coming around quickly, keep in mind that although Christmas and fairy lights are beautiful and create magic in the air over the festive season, they can also be a hazard if not looked after or checked properly.

Did you know?

A Queensland grandmother has campaigned for the last few years now for outdoor Christmas light displays across the country to all switch to still mode on December 23, so that her grandchild and others with epileptic photosensitivity, where flashing lights can induce epileptic seizures, to be involved and included in this annual community-based activity. 

Tips to make sure your festive lighting is safe

  1. Only use indoor lights inside the house
  2. Only use outdoor lights outside your home
  3. Where possible, use LED lighting. Both indoor and solar powered outdoor LED lighting is far less likely to overheat and cause a fire than traditional incandescent lighting options.
  4. Take the time to check old Christmas lights, especially for faulty bulbs or frayed or damaged cords, before using them
  5. Unwind any extension leads to avoid overheating
  6. Always turn off the lights before going to bed or leaving your house!

Useful Links

Beat the Heat ways to stay well in a heatwave

Packing for an emergency for tips on what to pack for an emergency

Fire affected Parks in Victoria

NSW National Parks Alerts List

Forest Fire Management Victoria

Live Traffic NSW

NSW Rural Fire Service

Victoria Emergency

Vic Traffic

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