Bushfires happen every summer and can start suddenly and without warning. Preparing yourself, your family and your home is your responsibility. Serious bushfires can occur in rural and suburban communities.
You need to understand the bushfire risk to your family and home so you can make decisions now on what you will do if a bushfire starts. Firefighters prepare for the bushfire season and will do everything they can to keep your community safe, however you cannot rely on firefighters to protect you and your property.
Many firefighters are volunteers and take time away from their families during bushfires. You need to help them by having a bushfire survival plan and preparing your home to make it as safe as possible.
Before summer starts you need to decide what you will do if a bushfire threatens. If you live or work near bushland you need to:
PREPARE your family, home or business – know your risk from bushfire and have a bushfire survival plan. Having a plan may be the difference in saving your life.
ACT on the Fire Danger Ratings – put your preparations into action, do not wait and see. The Fire Danger Rating is your trigger to ACT.
SURVIVE by monitoring conditions if a fire starts – know the bushfire warning alert levels and what you will do if you are caught in a fire.
REMEMBER: Bushland does not just mean trees and forest, it also means areas of scrub and grassland.
Prepare your property
The more prepared your home is the better chance it will survive a fire, even if you are not there.
Clear around your home so that embers are less likely to start a fire. This will also help reduce the damage caused by fire.
- Cut long grass and dense scrub
- Regularly rake up leaf litter and twigs
- Prune lower branches of trees to prevent ground fire spreading
- Clear vegetation along the boundary of your property and ensure adequate firebreaks
- Keep roof gutters and valleys clear of leaves and bark
- Remove any timber piles or rubbish from your property
Understand bushfire warnings
During a bushfire, emergency services will provide as much information to you as possible through a number of different channels. There are three levels of warning. These change to reflect the increasing risk to your life and the decreasing amount of time you have until the fire arrives.
ADVICE: a fire has started but there is no immediate danger, this is general information to keep you informed and up to date with developments.
WATCH AND ACT: a fire is approaching and conditions are changing, you need to start taking action now to protect you and your family.
EMERGENCY WARNING: you are in danger and you need to take immediate action to survive as you will be impacted by fire. This message may start with a siren sound called the Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS). SEWS is a distinctive sound effect that is broadcast immediately prior to major emergency announcements on radio, television and other communication channels. The signal sounds like ‘whoop, whoop, whoop’ and is broadcast for up to 15 seconds before the emergency information. SEWS tells you that you need to listen, there is an emergency in your area and you need to take action now. It is used like a siren and is strictly controlled by an authorised hazard management agency.
ALL CLEAR: the danger has passed and the fire is under control, but you need to remain vigilant in case the situation changes. It may still not be safe to return home
For further information about preparing your bushfire plan and keeping you and your family safe visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services: www.dfes.wa.gov.au
Important Bushfire contacts
- Call 000 for life threatening emergencies or to report a fire
- Call DFES on 13 3337 for emergency information
- Check online at dfes.wa.gov.au for current alerts and warnings