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Emergency Planning

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Not everyone thinks clearly in an emergency. Take steps now to prepare yourself, your home and your family by writing an emergency plan so that you'll know what to do when an emergency occurs. A written plan will help you remember what needs to be done. A good plan will include:

  • Emergency Contacts
  • Actions to complete before and during the fire/flood season
  • Actions to complete on high risk days
  • Actions to complete when fire/flood is in your area
  • Actions to complete after the fire/flood has passed
  • A back-up plan

Once you have a plan/s, make sure everyone in your home knows about the plan and where it is kept. If you live alone, tell a friend, neighbour or family member what your plan is. Keep it somewhere prominent, like on the fridge or by the front door.

Practice your emergency plan as this will reduce the amount of stress and panic you may experience in an emergency and you can make changes before the emergency.

It is also important to ensure your home, business or property is adequately insured and the cover is up to date. Make sure you understand what is covered under certain circumstances.

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Home Emergency Kit

Your household should have an emergency kit prepared to help yourself and your family in an emergency.

Basic Emergency Kit

A basic emergency kit may include:

  • Battery operated radio and torch (with spare batteries), candles and matches
  • First aid kit
  • Protective clothing such as sturdy gloves, face and dust masks
  • Copy of home emergency plan
  • Copies of important documents, or ensure copies are on a portable hard drive or web-based cloud drive
  • Non-perishable food, eating utensils and drinking water for up to three days
  • Camping stove or gas burner
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Utility knife, duct tape, scissors, plastic sheeting
  • Toilet paper, moist towelettes and rubbish bags
  • List of contact numbers for your doctor, dentist, local hospital, chemist, insurance company, vet, Council and utility providers

Additional Items to Add

If you are leaving early, evacuate or if a warning is issued, you may want to place the following additional items in your kit and have it ready to take with you:

  • Mobile phone, power bank and charger
  • Prescriptions, medications, sunscreen and toiletries
  • Important documents such as passports, birth certificates and insurance papers
  • Photographs, heirlooms and other irreplaceable items
  • Pet supplies - food, water, bowls, leash etc.
  • Protective clothing and strong shoes for each family member
  • Pillows, blankets and sleeping bags
  • Books and games for children
  • Credit cards and cash
  • Special items for babies the disabled or elderly in your family

It is recommended that you check the items in your emergency kit every year, and replace expired items with fresh items. Keep your emergency kit somewhere easy to locate. Make sure that other members of your household know where the emergency kit is stored.

Personal Emergency Planning - Bushfires

Risk is most extreme if you live surrounded by or near forest or woodland. By recognising and understanding your risk this will also help you to start preparing your property for fire and know what to do.

One of the best ways to start planning is to look at where you live. Visit the CFA's 'Am I at Risk' page for further information.

The CFA Before and During a Bushfire page will help you understand your fire risk and know what to do before and during a fire. The CFA advocate that staying to defend your property is risky and that leaving early is the safest option to protect yourself and your family. Either way, you should have:

  • A plan for Leaving Early
  • A plan for Staying to Defend your Property
  • A plan for People Who Need Extra Support

What if you are Travelling?

If you are travelling or holidaying anywhere around the state this summer, make sure you're FireReady. Stay informed, be prepared and pack some essential items so you're ready to leave when you need to - Safe Travellers Checklist.

Back Up Plans

Fires are unpredictable and plans can fail. Having a Back-up Plan that identifies your shelter or last resort options may save your life if you are caught in a fire.

If leaving a high-risk area is no longer an option, your planned options are not possible or you have no plan and there is threat of bushfire you should be aware of what alternative shelter options are close by. Shelter options may include:

It is important to understand that traveling to or sheltering in some of these locations does not guarantee your safety.

Personal Emergency Planning - Floods & Storms

Floods can affect you if you live, work or visit areas close to creeks, rivers, drains or low-lying land. Every flood is different, but being prepared can help you to stay safe, reduce damage and save money.

Every home and business should have a home emergency plan, up to date insurance, an emergency contact list and an emergency kit.

Personal Emergency Planning - Heatwaves & Extreme Heat

A heatwave is a period of unusual and uncomfortable hot weather that could impact on human health, community infrastructure (such as the power supply and public transport), and services.

The best way to survive the heat is to plan ahead for hot days and know what to do when the heat hits. Hot weather can affect anyone, including the young and healthy. However, some people are more at risk than others.

People most vulnerable to heatwaves and extreme heat

  • Aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
  • Those with medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
  • Have a disability or mobility issues
  • Babies and young children
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Work or exercise outdoors

Coping with the heat

  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirsty
  • Keep yourself cool by using wet towels, taking cool (not cold) showers and wearing light natural fibre clothing
  • Naturally cool your home - close windows and blinds in the day
  • Spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings (library, shopping centre, cinema)
  • Keep in touch with sick or frail friends and family
  • Talk to your health service if you have health issues

More information

House Numbers

In the event of an emergency, emergency service vehicles need to be able to locate your property easily and quickly and your house number needs to be clearly visible from the road.

Guidelines for displaying house numbers include:

  • Minimum height for house numbers is 75mm
  • Use plain, legible numbers from white or yellow reflective material
  • Display the numbers on the front of your letterbox
  • Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed around your letterbox
  • If you live in a unit or flat make sure your house number is located on the wall next to your front door.

Pets in Emergencies

Your pets, horses and livestock are your responsibility. Failing to plan ahead for your pets' safety during an emergency puts everyone's lives at risk. The following information will help you prepare to ensure the welfare of your pets during emergency events, such as bushfires or floods:

  • Include arrangements for your pets in your personal emergency plans.
  • Include pet food, water and spill-proof containers and any medicines are in your emergency kit.
  • Have secure carry cages, trailers and leads available.
  • Prepare a list of preferred kennels, catteries, animal shelters, farms or friends that would be prepared to temporarily house your pets in an emergency.
  • Keep vaccinations up to date in case they need to be admitted to a boarding facility or shelter.

You may become separated from your pets in an emergency:

  • Ensure a trusted neighbour, family member or friend has a key to your house/yard/farm in case they need to access your pets.
  • Ensure your pets are identifiable with a collar, name tag, council registration tag, and a microchip - and your contact details on the pet are current.

More information on preparing a pet emergency kit, evacuating with your pet and how to prepare for pets that need to remain at the property can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Community Led Emergency Planning

Communities, when supported with the right tools, are in the best position to lead activities that result in stronger, more connected and prepared communities. Evidence from previous emergencies has shown that connected communities are resilient communities. They recover more quickly following an emergency and suffer fewer long term effects.

We have developed the Community Emergency Planning Guide to support local communities who want to take an active role in planning for emergencies within their local community.

The CFA also have some resources and contacts for community-led and community-based planning.

Protecting your Personal Water Supply

Bushfires generate large amounts of smoke, ash and other debris that can contaminate your rainwater supply, even when the fire is distant, so it is important to take action early.

Ash and debris from burnt vegetation in rainwater does not usually represent a health risk, but it may result in your tank water having a smoky or dusty taste, and can affect the colour and clarity of the water.

However, if you live in a bushfire-affected area your water source could become contaminated from harmful contaminants including trace chemical residue from burnt treated timber, aerial fire retardant and small dead animals.

If your rainwater smells, tastes or looks unusual, assume it is contaminated and don't drink it or give it to animals.

Water from a river or creek in a fire-affected area should never be used for drinking or preparing food unless it has been properly treated.

Water drawn from deep bores or wells should continue to be safe to use.

Follow these steps to help protect your private drinking water supply and ensure it is not affected by bushfire contaminants:

  • Take action anytime bushfires start in Gippsland - ash clouds can be a threat even when the fire is far away.
  • Divert or disconnect your water tank's catchment pipe. Cover any open inlets. ie: the strainer.
  • If you are away have someone organised to disconnect your tank for you.
  • Monitor the bushfire - if there is ash on your car, it will be on your roof too.
  • Leave the tank isolated until the fire is out.
  • Wait for rain to wash your roof and flush the collection system - check the runoff is clear of ash.
  • Reconnect collection pipe or switch off your diverter.
  • Check water before you drink.

Tank water is a private water supply and owners are responsible for replacing water even if it's something out of their control.

For further information on diverting your water tank contact your local registered plumber or read the After a fire: private drinking water and water tank safety fact sheet here.

This page was last published on: 
Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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