What should you do when a bushfire approaches/strikes?
Enact your Bushfire Survival Plan and decide whether to leave early or stay with your home.
Whether your choice is to leave early or to stay, you must still have a contingency plan as a part of your Bushfire Survival Plan. A change in household circumstances, i.e. someone home alone or unexpected visitors, a fire danger rating of extreme or catastrophic, and the current preparedness of your home are all reasons for you to reconsider your Bushfire Survival Plan. You should identify a safer location, e.g. a neighbour’s home, or a Neighbourhood Safer Place and consider if you should leave early before bushfire threatens.
If you plan to leave early, then you must leave your home well before a bushfire threatens and travelling by road becomes hazardous. Your property should be well prepared for bushfire even if you intend to leave early.
Remember – Leaving late can be a deadly option.
Always avoid travelling in areas where bushfires are burning. If you get caught in the path of a bushfire turn around and drive to safety – don’t attempt to drive through.
Planning to stay
Planning is critical to successfully staying with your home. Staying with your home may involve the risk of psychological trauma, injury or death.
In making your decision to stay, here are a few things you need to consider.
- Is your property able to withstand the impact of a bushfire?
- Are you physically and emotionally prepared to stay with your property?
- Do you have well-maintained resources and equipment, and do you know how to use them?
- Do you have appropriate protective clothing?
- Will your bushfire survival plan need to be different for weekdays, weekends or if someone is sick at home?
- Do you have a contingency plan?
When a fire front is approaching
- Block drain pipes with gutter plugs and fill gutters with water;
- Remove outdoor furniture, door mats and other items;
- Move your car to a safe location;
- Hose down verandas and vegetation near the house;
- Turn on sprinklers in the garden;
- Take down curtains and move furniture away from windows;
- Fill containers with water, including the bath, sinks, buckets and wheelie bins;
- Soak towels and place under external doors;
- Have ladders ready for roof access (inside and outside);
- Have a generator and pump ready;
- Prepare livestock and pets;
- Stay close to the house;
- Drink plenty of water;
- Patrol your home for spot fires and extinguish them.
When the fire front arrives
If you decide to stay and defend your home, you should:
- Take fire-fighting equipment such as hoses and pumps inside (to stop them melting);
- Patrol the inside of your home, including the ceiling space for embers or small fires;
- Shelter inside your home on the opposite side to the approaching fire;
- Maintain a means of escape;
- Continually monitor conditions;
- Drink lots of water and regularly check on family and pets.