The Western Australian State Government has now launched the 2016-17 ‘Are You Bushfire Ready?’ campaign, urging everyone in the Western Australian community to prepare ahead of the upcoming bushfire season.
Launched by the Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis on Sunday 23 October at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ (DFES) State Operations Centre, this year’s campaign features Meelon man Steve Angel, who has a powerful real-life story to share.
Steve lost his home and almost lost his son in the 2007 Dwellingup bushfire. Determined never to face such a loss again, his subsequent home preparations helped to ensure his property was saved during the Meelon bushfire that swept through the Shire of Murray in March this year.
The campaign also ushers in the launch of the new Emergency WA website, emergency.wa.gov.au. The new multi-hazard Emergency WA website will provide faster, easier to access, better quality information during emergencies, in a format that people can more clearly understand.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson APM said Emergency WA will enable the public to access a live feed of all incidents reported to DFES.
“This will allow community members to remain vigilant, seek further information, and take action to ensure their own safety,” Commissioner Gregson said.
“DFES is also investing to build our digital communications capacity, as another way we can connect with the public during emergencies and get useful feedback from them about the situation on the ground.”
Whilst new communication tools are now delivering information across multiple channels, Commissioner Gregson said it remains vital that people check a range of sources for information during emergencies.
“Be aware of your surroundings, stay connected to your community, talk to your neighbours, listen to ABC radio bulletins and take action for your safety at the first sign of a fire or emergency,” he said.
With another challenging season forecast, it is also crucial that Western Australians prepare now to protect their safety and property in the event of a bushfire.
“Preparing for bushfires is a shared responsibility between government, agencies and the community,” Commissioner Gregson said.
“DFES staff and volunteers, alongside Parks and Wildlife, Western Power, local governments and their volunteer firefighters are working hard to prepare for the season ahead – we need everyone to play their part to ensure they are bushfire ready.”
• Visit Emergency WA at emergency.wa.gov.au for information about how to prepare for bushfire season and to keep up to date when emergencies occur.
How to prepare for bushfires
Plan how you will get information during a bushfire:
• Bookmark the Emergency WA website at emergency.wa.gov.au to your mobile phone or tablet.
• Become familiar with the Emergency WA website to make sure you can navigate to the information you need. During a real emergency, you might be panicked, so having a look now will help you later.
• To keep up to date during a bushfire or other emergency, visit emergency.wa.gov.au; check your surroundings; stay in touch with neighbours; listen to local radio or call the DFES emergency phone line 13 3337.
• Follow DFES on Facebook and Twitter
• Sign up to an RSS feed or a mobile phone app. Several apps carry DFES warnings, including WALGA’s LocalEye and private apps Emergency AUS and EWN.
Prepare a bushfire survival plan:
• Develop a bushfire survival plan that outlines what you will do if a bushfire occurs.
• This plan will help you take action and avoid making last minute decisions that could prove deadly during a bushfire.
• Don’t forget to factor in your pets or livestock - during a bushfire they will need water, shelter and a safe place to stay.
• Practice your plan regularly with your family, write it down and make sure everyone knows where it is.
Prepare your property:
• Install a mesh guard on your air conditioner.
• Rake up leaf litter and remove rubbish from around your home.
• Prune overhanging trees and shrubs.
• Keep grass short.
• Keep gutters free of leaves.
• Store flammable liquids, chemicals and firewood away from your home.
• Put in firebreaks.
• If you plan to stay and actively defend your home, you will need an independent water supply of at least 20,000 litres, a generator and pressure pump.
Prepare a survival kit:
• Have an emergency kit ready to go in case you evacuate or are cut off during a bushfire.
• This kit would include essential supplies such as a radio, spare batteries, torch, first aid kit, woollen blanket, emergency contact numbers, water and non-perishable food.
• On the day don’t forget to add essentials such as your wallet/purse, car and house keys, medications, phone and charger and important documents.