Getting prepared for bushfire season doesn’t take long, but it’s really important that you have a plan in place. A Bushfire Survival Plan is something you sit down and discuss with your family, or people you live with, to decide what you would do in the event a bushfire threatens your home.
To make it easy, each state has a handy guide that you can download and fill out. There are generally only 4 main steps to creating your plan, they are:
- Will you stay and defend or will you leave early?
- When will you leave?
- Where will you go?
- How will you get there?
- What will you take?
- Who will you tell you are going?
- Trim overhanging trees and branches
- Mow grass and remove cuttings
- Remove material that could burn from around your home (Wood piles, furniture, etc.)
- Clear and remove leaves and debris from gutters
- Prepare to defend by having garden hoses long enough to reach the whole house, along with suitable clothing and equipment
- Know the bushfire alert levels and what they mean for you (See Below)
- Know the fire danger ratings system and how that can impact your plans (See Below)
- Know where to get more information and what apps to have
- Keep all your information in one place
- Have a bushfire bag ready to go all year round, check it before summer arrives
- Print your bushfire survival plan and place it on the fridge
Bushfire Alert Levels
Every bush and grass fire is given a warning level based on its severity and risk.
Emergency Warning: This is the highest level of bushfire. You may be in danger and need to immediately take action. Any delay now will put your life at risk.
Watch and Act: There is a heightened level of threat and conditions are changing. You need to start to take action to leave or prepare yourself to defend.
Advice: A fire has started and there is no immediate danger. Sometimes these are listed as “out of control” until fire appliances arrive.
Fire Danger Ratings
On hot and windy days, monitor your local fire authority webpage to know the Fire Danger Rating. This will help inform you of the potential risk of fire for the day. These may differ from state to state depending where you live.
- Severe - If a fire threatens your home today, you should only stay and defend if your home is prepared.
- Extreme - Only stay to defend if your house is prepared to the highest level and build to survive a bushfire.
- Catastrophic - No homes are built to survive fires on days like these. Leaving early is your only safe option.
On days of catastrophic fire danger, talk to your friends and family about being prepared, make a decision early and have your bushfire survival plan out and ready. Consider leaving the area for the day. Don’t count on a fire truck being there to help as their resources will be stretched thin.
Should I stay or should I go?
By choosing to stay and defend, you may put yourself at serious risk of harm or worse. Not all homes are defendable, not all people are able to cope with the ordeal of trying to defend their home. Leaving early is the safest option.
Do not stay and defend your home if:
- It is a day of catastrophic fire danger
- It is a day of extreme fire danger and your home has not been specifically designed, constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire
- Your property has not been prepared
- You are not emotionally and physically fit to undertake firefighting. It’s incredibly tough on the mind and body.
If you choose to stay and defend, download and fill out a Bushfire Survival Plan, discuss it with your family and friends and create a “stay and defend” checklist. This will require you to have adequate clothing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), along with suitable firefighting equipment - like hoses, nozzles and a water supply.
If you have not prepared a bushfire survival plan and have not previously spent time preparing your property or have the suitable equipment, leaving early is the safest option.
Where do I get more information?
Each state and territory has their own Incident Map, some have their own apps to accompany them. Knowing where to go to get more information is critical.
Social Media Accounts
- NSW RFS - https://twitter.com/nswrfs
- FRNSW - https://twitter.com/frnsw
- ACT ESA - https://twitter.com/act_esa
- VIC CFA - https://twitter.com/cfa_updates
- VIC FRV - https://twitter.com/firerescuevic
- VIC MFB - https://twitter.com/mfb_news
- SA CFS - https://twitter.com/cfsalerts
- SA MFS - https://twitter.com/SA_MFS
- QLD FE - https://twitter.com/QldFES
- NT PFES - https://twitter.com/ntpfes
- WA DFES - https://twitter.com/dfes_wa
- TAS TFS - https://twitter.com/TasFireService
Download a Bushfire Survival Plan.
To help you develop your plan, choose the relevant links below to download your copy today.
- Victoria (CFA)
- New South Wales (NSWRFS) or MyFirePlan
- Queensland (QFES)
- South Australia (CFS)
- Western Australia (DFES)
- Tasmania (TFS)
- Northern Territory (PFES)
Fires can happen at any time, anywhere and without warning. To protect yourself, your family and the things you value most it is important to be prepared.
Sonder is here 24/7 to support you with advice, help and safely.