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Get your emergency plan ready

A child and adult pack their car including their black Labrador dog.

If you haven't written your emergency plan come along to an information session and find out how you can prepare yourself, pets and property for a bushfire.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Do you have an emergency plan that outlines what you’ll do in the event of a bushfire?

Mount Alexander Shire Council is urging the community to make time now to work out a plan to ensure that you, your family and neighbours stay safe in the event of an emergency.

“We’re seeing the devastation of fires in New South Wales and Queensland and we know the tragedies that occurred during and after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009,” said Luke Ryan, Emergency Management Coordinator, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

“These threats are real and it’s vital that our community is prepared and not complacent when it comes to being prepared for bushfires,” said Mr Ryan.

Council will hold a bushfire preparedness event in December to help community members understand how they can prepare themselves, pets and property for an emergency.

There will be opportunities to speak with fire and emergency management experts and hear presentations from bushfire survivors and representatives from the CFA, Agriculture Victoria and local animal welfare organisations.

Information session details
What: Preparing people, pets and property for bushfire
When: 11.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday 14 December (presentations from 11.30am at Ray Bradfield Room)
Where: Grassed area on Mostyn Street between the Market Building and supermarket near Victory Park.

“Our landscape, vegetation and weather means there’s a high risk of fires every summer. We strongly urge everyone to write down their emergency plan and practice it,” said Mr Ryan.

Writing down an emergency plan well in advance gives you time to think about what you’ll do and when.

“The safest thing is to leave early before you see flames or smell smoke. This means you’ll be less panicked, less likely to become trapped or make the wrong decision,” said Mr Ryan.

Examples of bushfire survival plans are available on the CFA website at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare.

Mr Ryan urged residents to avoid relying on Neighbourhood Safer Places – Bushfire Places of Last Resort during a fire.

“We have a number of these around the shire but they really are only a last resort,” he said.

“Even though they may offer some protection from a bushfire, the safety or survival of those that use them will not be guaranteed.

“They really are only to be used if your emergency plan doesn’t work out. It’s much safer to leave your property well before a fire goes through.”

Other things you can do to prepare for summer is to slash grass, remove leaves and branches from around your home and relocate woodpiles away from buildings. Don’t forget to check your insurance.

Council and the CFA have carried out property inspections and has sent prevention notices to landholders who still need to take action to reduce the risk of fire.

“We are overwhelmed with how the community has prepared their property for the coming bushfire season,” said Mr Ryan.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to prepare for bushfires. The more we work together the safer our community will be,” he said.

To reduce the risk of roadside fires Council’s Works Team is slashing vegetation along sealed rural roads.

The Country Fire Authority declared Mount Alexander Shire to be in the Fire Danger Period from Monday 18 November.

Your emergency plan – things to consider:
- Which Fire Danger Rating is your trigger to leave? (e.g. Severe, Extreme, Code Red)
- When will you leave – early morning or the night before?
- Where will you go and what route will you take?
- What is another option if fire is already in the area?
- How will you organise pets or livestock?
- Who do you need to inform of your movements?
- Do you have friends, neighbours or relatives that will need your help?
- How will you stay up to date with warnings and updates? (Download the VicEmergency app onto your phone)
- What will you do if there is a fire and you cannot leave?

Include in your emergency kit:
- Overnight bag with change of clothes and toiletries
- Identification and important items such as passport, licence, will, photos, jewellery, insurance papers, USB with important files
- Medicine and first aid kit
- Mobile phone and charger
- Battery powered radio, torch and spare batteries
- Food and water
- Woollen blankets
- Emergency contact information.

Prepare your property:
Fine fuels such as fallen leaves and branches, long dry grass, weeds and some shrubs that are 6mm in diameter or less are the most common hazard. These can act as kindling for a fire by providing easy ignition and allowing it to spread easily. Make sure you:
- Mow or slash grass below 75mm on your residential property
- Remove leaves from gutters and stacks of wood or branches from near your home, along with any other flammable materials like rubbish and fallen branches.
- Check your insurance.
- Relocate woodpiles away from your home.

Rural property holders should also:

- Create a 10 to 20 metre wide fire break around the internal boundary of your property by cutting or slashing grass and weeds below 75mm. This is particularly important for boundaries of paddocks that adjoin residential and woodlands.
- Cut or slash grass on a 50 metre radius around your house and other assets (including your neighbours’).

Image: Don't forget to include your pets in your emergency plan.

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