GET READY: 5 ways to protect against bushfire
WITH the bushfire danger period already here, there are a few simple steps all residents should take to ensure they are ready.
This Sunday is the annual Get Ready weekend and is a chance for everyone to think about how they can prepare their home for bushfire to lower their risk of harm or property loss.
Central to this discussion is the creation of a bushfire survival plan, a critical plan that the Rural Fire Service encourages anyone in regional and rural NSW to undertake.
1) Know your risk
Before the creation of any plan, it is important to understand the risks you and your property face in the event of bushfire.
Do you live on the top of a mountain surrounded by bush on all sides or perhaps you live in the middle of a paddock surrounded by dry grass?
Different locations carry different risks and understanding them will help guide your discussion and form your bushfire survival plan.
For people in rural areas this means knowing exactly where your exit points are, both at your property and out of the broader locality.
2) Plan and discuss
Sit down and talk with your family about what you will do in the event of a bushfire threat to your home by creating a bushfire survival plan.
Broadly speaking there are only two options: stay or go. Leaving early is the safest option, though those who are well prepared may opt to stay and both options carry a series of considerations which need to be discussed.
RFS Coffs Harbour Superintendent Sean McArdle says creating a bushfire survival plan is critical.
"The bushfire survival plan really is a no-brainer, it is a simple document which has been scaled back over the years to make it really easy to use and everyone in rural and regional NSW should take time to download and enact a bushfire survival plan," he said.
3) Prepare your home
Regardless of whether you opt to stay or go, there are a number of actions you can take to make your home safer in the event of bushfire.
"We do know that the majority of houses that burn down during bushfires are a direct result of ember attack and the preparation people do around their properties is very good at protecting them against ember attack," Supt. McArdle said.
"Cleaning out gutters, removing combustible materials, and a general tidy up around the outside of your property is important."
Trimming overhanging trees and shrubs and keeping the lawns mowed can help stop fires spreading to your home.
Removing combustible materials like wood piles, mulch and even outdoor furniture can go a long way toward preventing a fire catching.
There are a series of checklists on the RFS website which can help.
4) Know alert levels
While it may not seem so long ago when bushfires were threatening the North Coast, Supt. McArdle said it was important people understood what each colour coded alert level meant.
"There is a really good set up on the RFS website and they can go in and read through it at their own time," he said.
"Even print it out because when the fires start people can forget what the colours and alerts mean."
Bushfires may act in different ways depending on weather conditions and alert levels give an indication of the possible consequences of a fire.
For instance, the RFS says no homes are built to withstand a fire in 'catastrophic' conditions.
5) Stay aware
Staying up to date with information is key during a bushfire emergency and that includes saving emergency services numbers, websites and applications.
Supt. McArdle said while most people were aware of the Fires Near Me app, there were ways it could be configured to help keep people informed.
"It is really important people keep themselves up to date," he said.
"Always keep an eye on Fires Near Me and you can set your phone to alert mode so it will ping if there are fires in your area.
It also helps to share information with your friends and family and the RFS encourages people visit the RFS website regularly to stay up to date with fire danger ratings and total fire bans.