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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Written by Ben

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