Are you ready?
It’s the sort of summer afternoon that makes life a joy in our region.
The sun, beaming down from clear blue skies, has replaced the morning chill with a warmth that would be uncomfortable except for the brisk breeze.
Suddenly you get this emergency message as an SMS on your phone, or hear it in a radio news bulletin, or read it scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen:
“EMERGENCY WARNING ISSUED FOR A BLAZE BURNING NEAR (your locality). IF YOU ARE IN THE AREA OF (the road where you live) LEAVE NOW IF THE PATH IS CLEAR. IF THE PATH IS NOT CLEAR, SEEK SHELTER AS THE FIRE IMPACTS AND PROTECT YOURSELF.”
Are you ready? Is your partner? Your kids? What about your pets and any livestock? What about your home? Do you have a plan for this scary situation?
“When dry summer days turn lush vegetation from green to yellow or brown, creating heavy fuel loads, fires can start suddenly and spread quickly,” said Superintendent Troy Porter, manager of the Rural Fire Service Cudgegong District that covers the Mid-Western Regional Council area..
“It’s already starting to happen right here in our district. Only a few weeks ago sparks from a grinder started a grass fire that spread across two hectares. Thankfully our crews were able to put out that fire before it did serious damage.
“Grass fires burn very hot and can spread very quickly, making them particularly dangerous.
“And as good as our RFS volunteers are, you can’t rely on always having fire fighters in a big red truck to protect you, your home and your loved ones from the flames,” Superintendent Porter said.
“That is why it’s so important to make sure you, your home and your family have a plan in place to face a bush fire.
“Taking a few simple steps now, starting with a conversation now about what to do, could help save your life, your family and your home.”
Take a look atwww.myfireplan.com.auto identify your risk and discover key planning and preparation measures – including the ones below – that can help you survive a bush fire.
Here are five simple steps to help reduce the risk to you and your home.
- Trim overhanging trees and shrubs.
- Mow your lawn and remove all the cut grass. In rural areas, mow to 40 metres from your house.
- Remove material that can burn around your home (e.g. door mats, wood piles, mulch, leaves, outdoor furniture).
- Clear and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home.
- Prepare a hose or hoses that can stretch all around the house.
Getting ready isn't just about cleaning up around the house. It’s also about making sure you:
- Understand daily Fire Danger Ratings and the meaning of the three bush fire alert levels – Advice, Watch and Act, and Emergency Warning.
- Prepare a bush fire survival plan which you and your family have practised.
- Decide whether to leave early or stay and defend a well prepared house.
- Consider your physical, mental and emotional preparedness.
- Know what everyone should do if family members are separated when fire strikes.
“A bush fire can be terrifying,” Superintendent Porter said.
“An approaching fire brings gusty winds and intense heat.
“Its roar fills your ears.
“Embers rain down, causing spots fires around you. Smoke stings your eyes and chokes your lungs.
“Power and water may be cut off.
“You may be isolated. It will be dark, noisy and extremely demanding both mentally and physically.
“If you have any doubts about your ability to cope, you should plan to leave early, well before a fire reaches your area.
“People who are at higher risk such as children and those who are elderly, disabled or have medical problems, should always leave early.
“Leaving early is always your safest option.”
To get help with evaluating your risk and planning for bush fire survival visit the Rural Fire Service website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or call the Cudgegong District Fire Control Centre at (02) 6372 4434.