What you need to know about the bushfires and how to help

As the unprecedented bushfires continue to rage unabated, we provide all the info you need.

Bushfires: What you need to know

As the unprecedented bushfires continue to rage across the nation, we are still reeling with the full extent of the devastation.

So far, the fires have claimed 25 lives, destroyed more than 1500 homes, killed 450 million native animals and burnt more than eight million hectares of land.

In this time of national crisis, we have had many YourLifeChoices members asking about what they can do to help and what charities are the most trustworthy.

We have done our best to compile everything you need to know if you are living in a bushfire affected area, want to help whether through making a donation, volunteering or offering housing.

What to do during a fire

Before the fire

  • put on your protective clothing
  • turn on the radio to keep yourself informed
  • bring pets inside and keep them in one room
  • close all windows and doors
  • block spaces beneath doors and windows with wet towels
  • fill buckets, sinks and bathtubs with water ready to put out spot fires
  • have your firefighting equipment such as pumps and hoses connected to your water supply
  • block downpipes and fill gutters with water
  • remove items that can burn from around your home such as outdoor furniture
  • bring ladders inside to check roof space for embers
  • patrol the outside of your home, putting out any embers or spot fires
  • just before the fire arrives, wet down timber decks and gardens close to the house
  • move any firefighting equipment to a place where it will not get burnt.

During the fire

  • go inside but stay alert
  • shelter in a room on the opposite side of the house from the approaching fire and one that has a clear exit out of the house
  • patrol inside the house, including the roof space, looking for sparks and embers
  • protect yourself from the heat of the fire 
  • if your life is at risk, call triple zero (000).

Once the fire has passed

  • check your roof spaces
  • go outside and put out any part of your house that is alight
  • check under the house and any decks
  • check on your pets and animals
  • embers or sparks can start spot fires many hours after the fire has passed
  • if you can, contact your family and friends and check on your neighbours.

How to stay informed
As always in times ofdevastating bushfires, your local ABC radio station is your best and most consistent way to stay informed about what is happening in your area.

NSW
The Rural Fire Service (RFS) has developed a Fires Near Me app, which provides up to date information across the whole state. You should also check social media such as NSW RFS Facebook and NSW RFS Twitter.

If you are unable to access the internet, you can call the bushfire information line on 1800 679 737.

The latest information about road closures is available at livetraffic.com.

Victoria
The VicEmergency site provides all the information on current fires and air quality. You should also download the app at the Apple Store or Google Play. If you are unable to access the internet, you can call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Information on traffic and road closures is also available at Vicroads and there is further information on bushfire safety at the Visit Victoria site and official warnings from the CFA, which you can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

South Australia
The South Australian Country Fire Service has official maps and incident information and provides a bushfire information hotline that can be reached on 1800 362 361. You should also  follow @cfsalerts and @cfstalk on Twitter or like SA Country Fire Service and CFSUpdates on Facebook.

Queensland
For comprehensive and up to date information about the fires in Queensland, go to Get Ready Queensland.

For the current fire danger ratings across Queensland, go to Fire Danger Rating.

For the latest updates on all fires burning in Queensland, go to the Newsroom.

Tasmania
The Tasmania Fire Service has the latest updates. A full and updated list of warnings can be found on the Bureau of Meteorology's Tasmanian Warnings summary webpage.

ACT
The ACT Emergency Services Agency provides information on all the current fire situations and just as importantly the smoke situation that has badly affected the area.

West Australia
Official maps, evacuation orders and other updates can be found on EmergencyWA.

How to help
Bushfire and disaster appeals 
The Bushfire Disaster Appeal promises that 100 per cent of your donation will be directed to communities in need and it also provides an option to donate to the national appeal or to a state or territory of your choice.

Foodbank is leading the efforts to get food and water to bushfire-hit areas. For every $1 you donate, Foodbank is able to provide $6 worth of supplies to affected communities thanks to its partnership with the food and grocery sector. You can also donate food and other essential grocery items at Foodbank warehouses across Australia.

The Red Cross Relief and Recovery fund provides support for people at evacuation centres, emergency assistance and longer-term recovery programs.

Eric Bana has also lent his support to the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund.

Firefighters
The firefighters are all volunteers and they have been doing some amazing work during this deeply troubling period. You can also donate to your local fire service:

Helping wildlife
Here are some tips if you come across injured wildlife on the road. There are also many organisations set up to offer wildlife assistance:

  

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Chris B T
    8th Jan 2020
    10:33am
    The Year of "2020" I would hope the Warnings That Is Displayed on Signs of Possible/Probable outcomes is Taken More Seriously Than In The PAST EVENTS.
    Why Bother Placing and Adjusting These Signs, then walk away.
    That Applies to All Levels of Gov' .

    8th Jan 2020
    10:36am
    Whatever one gives it is never enough according to some people. Absolutely disgusting the way they are getting into companies on social media for not giving enough. I also can't stand the self promotion going on with celebrities either.
    *Loloften*
    9th Jan 2020
    7:57am
    "Self-promotion?" don't think so, you cynic obviously didn't notice the compassion/empathy on those faces. Suggest our long suffering/shattered Aussies who've lost everything they owned would be enormously grateful for every single $ of assistance - no matter where or from whom it comes. You should be grateful for them too VCBB, obviously not.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2020
    3:40pm
    At least Gina got it right.
    On the Ball
    8th Jan 2020
    10:51am
    Donate to the charities that help, and are not Government funded..
    If you donate to a State or Federal - Government funded cause (not charities) all you are doing is filling in for the budget cuts of the last years.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/07/nsw-fires-massive-influx-of-donations-pose-a-nice-challenge-for-rfs-says-fire-chief
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    11:23am
    I don't trust a word the Guardian says myself.
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    12:03pm
    I don't trust a word any government says myself.
    Tricky
    8th Jan 2020
    2:54pm
    Has Murdoch made a donation yet!

    Has Pentecostal church donated yet!

    Has Hillsong church donated yet!
    maxchugg
    9th Jan 2020
    9:02am
    Why do the churches collect so much flak from some individuals? And, to answer Tricky's question, On the Ball has provided a part answer, the church operated charities will, as always, play a major role in supporting the victims.

    I would suggest to Tricky, if he wants to attack anyone over the disaster, try those who once again failed to conduct fuel reduction burns. The point was made that to protect your home you need to "remove items that can burn from around your home such as outdoor furniture", but what do you do about the nearby reserves full of tinder dry undergrowth and leaf litter?

    Bushfires need fuel to survive, no fuel, no fire.
    maxchugg
    9th Jan 2020
    9:02am
    Why do the churches collect so much flak from some individuals? And, to answer Tricky's question, On the Ball has provided a part answer, the church operated charities will, as always, play a major role in supporting the victims.

    I would suggest to Tricky, if he wants to attack anyone over the disaster, try those who once again failed to conduct fuel reduction burns. The point was made that to protect your home you need to "remove items that can burn from around your home such as outdoor furniture", but what do you do about the nearby reserves full of tinder dry undergrowth and leaf litter?

    Bushfires need fuel to survive, no fuel, no fire.
    KB
    8th Jan 2020
    11:58am
    A good article just for once. My thoughts and prayers are with all people affected by th4e bushfires. And so too the volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line
    KB
    8th Jan 2020
    11:58am
    A good article just for once. My thoughts and prayers are with all people affected by th4e bushfires. And so too the volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line

    8th Jan 2020
    12:02pm
    Aluminium foil your windows and take down your curtains - radiant heat through glass can reach 800 deg.
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    12:12pm
    Support Fire Commissioner Greg Mullins in his pursuit of dedicated water bombing aircraft. Forget the 'royal commission' idea - waste of good money when the experts already have the answers - and I don't mean the closeted academics.
    maxchugg
    9th Jan 2020
    9:04am
    Water bombers are reactive, fuel reduction burns are proactive. Proactive trumps reactive every time where disasters are concerned.
    maxchugg
    9th Jan 2020
    9:04am
    Water bombers are reactive, fuel reduction burns are proactive. Proactive trumps reactive every time where disasters are concerned.

    8th Jan 2020
    12:06pm
    ... and again - I've been working with an organisation called Convoy Missions Australia - running supplies into affected areas for firefighters and ordinary people caught up in this.. no cash accepted and it comes out of our own pockets. Next move is helping with re-building ...
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    12:11pm
    ...oh - and 'wildcat' supply runs without clearance from officials on the ground can be more of a hindrance than a help - it is terrific that so many want to help as much as they can, but the need is mostly water and food and such - clothing and such should be approved before a run develops, otherwise the areas receiving end up with huge piles of things. In the short term - consumables are the go.... packet foods, water, lip balm, tissues, eye drops, inhalers, masks, new socks for the firies - they have their own cooks onsite, so no cooked/prepared food - has to pass the regulations. Chips etc are good quick snacks.

    One of the best donations was a pallet of cherries from down Batlow way, and they've also donated lots of fruit ..... now they are in it...
    Janus
    8th Jan 2020
    12:13pm
    This is (in my opinion) mostly bad advice.
    The process is:
    Plan ahead: if you live in the bush, or near it, then expect to lose your stuff. Have ready your documents, your small valuables, computer/laptop, phone and charger, a battery radio,clothes toiletries and medications for a week packed in a suitcase, and a list of what you can't lose, jewelery, paintings documents, children etc.
    Very little you do around the house will reduce the chances of your house burning, if conditions are bad enough. Prepare as you might, but hold little hope. Embers are the worst and that can't be prevented.

    When the Watch and Act warning comes for your area, PACK & LEAVE. Just go. NOW.
    The people that don't make it are those that stay to defend or leave too late. Let the firies do their job, get out of their way. Leave the front gate unlocked!
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    12:25pm
    .. and shoot looters...
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    12:26pm
    .. and make a full list of what is in your house for an insurance claim... it's amazing what you don't think of when the need arises.
    KSS
    8th Jan 2020
    1:30pm
    People need to be very clear about where they donate and the expectations they have for where the money is spent.

    Donations to say the Red Cross disaster fund, whilst a worthy cause, does not guarantee that the funds will be spent in the fire affected areas or even in Australia for that matter. The Red Cross does not commit the $13+ million donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery that every cent will be spent on these immediate Australian fire related needs. Their undertaking is very vague and general which means the funds could be spent on any future relief and revovery program anywhere in the world.

    And even worse, being moved to donate to help those affected by these fires and just making the donation to the 'generic' Red Cross does not mean there is even a vague committment that that is where the money will go. All well and good if you don't mind where the money goes. Not so great if you are giving to help those affected by these current fires!

    Consider this: There has been $200m+ and rising donated so far. Enough to provide new dwellings to replace ALL those lost and enough left over for mental health services for some time to come.

    I'm not saying people shouldn't donate. Just that they be clear where the money is likely to go.
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    3:41pm
    Indeed - many such organisatiuons are a 'career path' - and part of the 'judgement' on 'suitability' for promotion is how successful they are at such things as fund-raising..

    Read Michael Marin's Road To Hell...
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    3:43pm
    Meanwhile the group I'm working with - all volunteer and hand in own pocket for all members - is scratching to find enough materials to rebuild for one elderly couple burnt out. A building company has come onboard - not quite sure what they are contributing - probably some labour and materials and expertise. It all helps.
    Tricky
    8th Jan 2020
    2:50pm
    You can also assist by joining NSW Rural Fire Service, there are many aspect of fire fighting without going to the fire front.ie Communications, Incident Management Team, Logistics, Transport,Catering. There is no age limit. As a member you are able to protect and serve your community.
    Anonymous
    8th Jan 2020
    5:59pm
    Tried that - heart troubles and care duties made it impossible for me to go out and fight fires, and the local area guy said they were all professionals in the offices etc.
    Chris B T
    8th Jan 2020
    5:55pm
    These are very good things to Do in Being Prepared for Bushfires.
    Sad part is where most of the Bushfires Originate I and Others have No Control Over.
    There Needs to be More Preparedness by Gov' at Every Level etc. National Parks, State Parks/Forests and Council Vacant Land.
    All these Places is where Most Fires Originated.
    Take their Own Advice and Be Active and Not Reactive.
    Ownership belongs to those who chose not do or spend on available Vital Fire Fighting Equipment.
    I can't Afford Water Bombing Aircraft to protect my dwelling.
    Besides they Tell You To Flee and Let it Burn.
    Giles
    9th Jan 2020
    5:27am
    Isn’t it amazing that these figures and information never make the media headlines?

    In Central Australia and just before Lewis Lasseter died in January 1931, he recorded that it was so hot that he had to make his journal entries in the cool of the evenings. This was due to the heat of the day causing the lead in his shrivelled pencils to fall out and the ink on the nib of his pen drying before he could get it to paper.

    In addition to this and mostly owing to heat wave conditions, the following bush fire statistics have been recorded:

    Victoria: 1851Black Thursday – 12 Killed;
    Victoria: 1926 Black Sunday – 60 dead, 700 injured and over 1,000 buildings destroyed;
    Victoria: 1939 Black Friday – 71 dead and more than 5,000 buildings destroyed;
    Tasmania: 1967 Black Tuesday – 62 dead, over 900 injuries and over 7,000 homeless;
    Victoria and SA: 1983 Ash Wednesday – 75 dead, 2,676 injured and more than 3,700 buildings destroyed;
    Victoria: 2009 Black Saturday – 180 dead, 414 injured and 5,529 buildings destroyed.

    Climate Change has not been attributed to any of the above facts and, if it were not for the misinformed environmentalists, the current bushfire crisis would not be so severe.

    The Greens policies have not helped as they have:
    • lobbied to have untold thousands of hectares locked up;
    • prevented land owners from managing the vegetation on their own land; and
    • pushed to have further barriers implemented in the way burn offs and firebreak clearings.

    Want to blame someone for the current bush-fire crises? Look no further than the so-called environmentalist and your local Greens politician.

    Giles
    maxchugg
    9th Jan 2020
    10:33am
    Well said Giles.

    Add to your comments the scandal of "homogenization" of past temperature data to create a false impression that over the past century the climate has warmed when the records originally showed the very opposite.

    Those who don't don't believe me, go to:

    https://jennifermarohasy.com/temperatures/rutherglen/ or joannenova.com.au/tag/homogenization-temperature-data/ http://climatelab.com.au/wp-content/uploads/NW2016.001.PP_.Marohasy.pdf
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/11395516/The-fiddling-with-temperature-data-is-the-biggest-science-scandal-ever.html
    https://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20684
    https://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=17710

    Thomas Moore would have understood those of the global warming/climate change religion as is indicated by his comment"

    "But faith, fanatic faith, once wedded fast
    To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.
    maxchugg
    9th Jan 2020
    10:33am
    Well said Giles.

    Add to your comments the scandal of "homogenization" of past temperature data to create a false impression that over the past century the climate has warmed when the records originally showed the very opposite.

    Those who don't don't believe me, go to:

    https://jennifermarohasy.com/temperatures/rutherglen/ or joannenova.com.au/tag/homogenization-temperature-data/ http://climatelab.com.au/wp-content/uploads/NW2016.001.PP_.Marohasy.pdf
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/11395516/The-fiddling-with-temperature-data-is-the-biggest-science-scandal-ever.html
    https://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20684
    https://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=17710

    Thomas Moore would have understood those of the global warming/climate change religion as is indicated by his comment"

    "But faith, fanatic faith, once wedded fast
    To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2020
    3:43pm
    No one ever mentioned that over 90% of the homes in the fire areas were saved. That is a great effort from the fire fighters and everyone else involved. If over 90% of the homes were saved then I hardly call that a catastrophe.
    maxchugg
    10th Jan 2020
    3:59pm
    Very Caring Big Bear, I agree with your comments about the efforts of the firefighters, but do not agree that the fires do not represent a catastrophe. People died, homes were lost, environmental damage on a massive scale occurred, which is catastrophic to those who were directly affected by death and loss of homes, not to mention the impact on flora and fauna.

    What is unpardonable, in my view, is that I recall hearing media reports in the latter part of last year which warned that fuel loads were higher than before Black Saturday yet little, if anything appears to have been done to prevent the inevitable outcome. Indeed, the following site suggests that the Victorian Premier and others have a lot to answer for:

    https://vic.nationals.org.au/media-releases/dodging-daniel-andrews-refuses-to-release-bushfire-fuel-load-maps/

    But, of course, there is a "get out of gaol free" card, the fires were not the result of failure to take appropriate precautionary actions, they were the inevitable outcome of climate change.
    maxchugg
    10th Jan 2020
    3:59pm
    Very Caring Big Bear, I agree with your comments about the efforts of the firefighters, but do not agree that the fires do not represent a catastrophe. People died, homes were lost, environmental damage on a massive scale occurred, which is catastrophic to those who were directly affected by death and loss of homes, not to mention the impact on flora and fauna.

    What is unpardonable, in my view, is that I recall hearing media reports in the latter part of last year which warned that fuel loads were higher than before Black Saturday yet little, if anything appears to have been done to prevent the inevitable outcome. Indeed, the following site suggests that the Victorian Premier and others have a lot to answer for:

    https://vic.nationals.org.au/media-releases/dodging-daniel-andrews-refuses-to-release-bushfire-fuel-load-maps/

    But, of course, there is a "get out of gaol free" card, the fires were not the result of failure to take appropriate precautionary actions, they were the inevitable outcome of climate change.


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