Local emergency broadcasters are a vital source of information about developing and active bushfires, and all states provide dedicated bushfire coverage. The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) is the official emergency broadcaster. Tuning into ABC local radio means knowing the latest fire alerts and Fire Danger Rating in your area.
Daily Fire Ratings are:
New South Wales
Bushfires can move fast and spread quickly. Dry ground and vegetation is fire fuel, wind and high temperature days provide its force and direction and land slopes empower a bushfire to move uphill more at greater speed than it could moving on a flat landscape.
Embers are the main cause of property damage during bushfires because they often start new fires that can develop any time before, during or after a bushfire front movement. Sparks can enter a building through the roof or unsealed walls and windows.
Direct flames ignite any flammable matter or dry vegetation located close to a building. Buildings nearby that have burned can make buildings close to them perish even if they are constructed to a strong building code.
Radiant heat may not be a major cause of property fires but it is the major cause of death in bushfires.
Decision-making matters. Leaving early is always the safest move. Mobilising people when conditions are dangerous is risky. The longer it takes to decide to evacuate the more likely it becomes that lives are in danger. Remember – if you have a power outage then electric gates or remote-control doors will not work. Have a back-up plan for how you will transport people. Prepare the buildings upon exit. Your property is at risk for potential fire, so you will need to turn off gas and electricity and close windows and doors if you leave.
Time management is critical in emergency conditions, to evacuate staff or people in care. Plan carefully for evacuating children, the elderly and disabled, non-English speakers or those with sight or hearing impairments. Keep them informed about what is happening during an emergency and provide them with clear instructions about what to do. Check that everyone is present and keep a head count at intervals until all are safely relocated. It's important to monitor the health and safety of people and animals you are responsible for, and ensure they remain hydrated. Ensure evacuations are COVID safe and adhere to social distancing, good hand hygiene, wearing of masks or other protective measures.
Communication access is key. Important phone numbers should be saved in mobile phones, and batteries for devices need to be charged. Check whether car phone chargers are placed in your vehicles. Emergency and evacuation management plans should be visible and easy to follow for staff. Communicate with people internally and externally if the emergency management plan is to be carried out. Explain what this means and who is likely to know. Families of people in care and parents of school students will need to have their own plans in place if an evacuation is to go ahead.
Have first aid kits on hand for use if needed and ensure they are stocked with disposable masks, hand sanitizer, non-contact thermometers and antibacterial wipes to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19.
Consult with emergency services to determine whether it's safe to return to your location. Monitor the health and safety of everyone in your care during the clean-up process when returning, because fire damage has the potential to create new safety risks, such as exposure to asbestos. Even when buildings are not located close to a bushfire vicinity, smoke haze can decrease visibility. Poor air quality can cause respiratory issues or other physical concerns for people with and without existing health conditions. Unstable building structures also present a physical risk. Be aware that in the aftermath of a bushfire people may be suffering from psychological trauma and it will be important to know how to get them support. The hazards of bushfire smoke and poor air quality are discussed in CCI article Bushfire leaves property managers gasping for air, with an expert offering perspective on the issue.
Learn more about being bushfire ready and know when to take cover If bushfires have not affected your area it is not too late to prepare. Refer to CCI's Surviving Bushfire Fact Sheet and Checklist for more information on what you can do now to protect your people and property.
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