Bushfire Outlook for Summer 2023.
Above-average rainfall over New South Wales resulted in flooding across many parts of the state during 2022. This resulted in very high soil moisture content that enhanced grass growth and added to existing high fuel loads.
The climate outlook suggests a change to drier conditions with much of the state experiencing a return to normal rainfall and normal to above normal temperatures. This may result in the drying out of vegetation and above-normal fire potential later in the season, especially in western parts of the state.
Planning is key
It is the responsibility of every homeowner living in an area of bushfire potential to understand their risk and develop a personal bushfire plan. Fire authorities are clear – making a choice when a bushfire threatens is too late and people all-too-often make poor decisions when faced by the fear and anxiety of fire.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) recommend a 4-part planning process:
STEP 1: DISCUSS
DISCUSS WHAT TO DO IF A BUSHFIRE THREATENS YOUR HOME
Download the Step 1 discussion guide here.
It is essential that every family member knows what to do if your home is threatened by a bushfire. One of the most important things to do before a bushfire is to decide what you’ll do if one should start. The Step 1 discussion guide will help you make the decision to leave early or to stay and defend your property in the event of a bushfire.
This is a critical decision. The NSW RFS advise that leaving early is the safest choice and that you should only stay if you are well prepared.
STEP 2: PREPARE
PREPARE YOUR HOME AND GET IT READY FOR BUSHFIRE SEASON
Download the Step 2 checklist here.
The NSW RFS have identified the top-5 actions you can take to make your house safer.
+ Trim: Trim overhanging trees and shrubs. This can stop the fire spreading to your home.
+ Mow: Mow grass and remove the cuttings. Have a cleared area around your home.
+ Remove: Remove material that can burn around your home (e.g., doormats, wood piles, mulch, leaves, paint, outdoor furniture).
+ Clear: Clear and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home. Burning embers can set your home on fire.
+ Prepare: Prepare a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home. Make sure you’ve got a reliable source of water.
Remember – a cleared area around your home can slow a fire spreading and give firefighters a safe area to work.
STEP 3: KNOW
KNOW THE BUSHFIRE ALERT LEVELS
Download Step 3 here.
Your safety and survival may depend on the decision you make, even before there is a fire, so you need to prepare well beforehand as leaving it to the last minute is too late. If there is a fire in your area, you will find its alert level on the NSW RFS website and in the ‘Fires Near Me’ app. You need to keep track of the alert level so you know what you should do.
+ Advice: A fire has started. There is no immediate danger. Stay up to date in case the situation changes.
+ Watch and Act: There is a heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action to protect you and your family.
+ Emergency Warning: An Emergency Warning is the highest level of Bush Fire Alert. You may be in danger and need to act immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk.
You should also familiarise yourself with the Fire Danger Ratings. Remember – the higher the fire danger rating, the more dangerous a fire is likely to be.
STEP 4: KEEP
KEEP ALL THE BUSHFIRE INFORMATION NUMBERS, WEBSITES AND THE SMARTPHONE APP
Download Step 4 here.
In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000)
For information on bush fire, call the Bush Fire Information Line – 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737)
NSW Rural Fire Service Website: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
Fire Danger Ratings: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fdr
‘Fires Near Me’ Free smartphone app
Local radio, Local ABC emergency broadcaster frequency, Television
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Prepare well and stay safe!