Travelling to high risk fire areas
As one of the most fire prone areas in the world, CFA and the Department of Sustainability and Environment are urging everyone travelling to high risk fire areas in Victoria this summer to make sure they're fire ready and aware of the local conditions and restrictions.
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said summer was a peak time for people travelling across Victoria – particularly to high bushfire risk areas.
“Often people from city and suburban areas will holiday and camp in parts of regional Victoria, whether that be up north, in the west of the state or in coastal areas that are very bushfire prone,” Mr Ferguson said.
“Because these areas and conditions are unfamiliar to visitors they may not be aware of this risk, meaning they are unprepared for the threat of fire.”
Department of Sustainability and Environment Chief Fire Officer Alan Goodwin said if people are planning on going camping in the state’s forests and parks, they need to make sure their campfire doesn’t escape.
“About 10 per cent of fires in Victoria’s parks and forests are started by campfire escapes – that’s 10 per cent of bushfires that could have been prevented,” he said.
“If it’s warm and windy, don’t have a campfire. Consider using another method to cook instead and above all, make sure your campfire is put out properly. A shovel full of soil won’t do. Use water instead and it has to be cool to touch before leaving it.”
As well as remembering what to pack, there are a few quick tips people can add to their travel checklist.
1. Do you know the most up to date Fire Danger Rating for the area you are travelling to?
Check out the Fire Danger Ratings forecast each day or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667 for more information on ratings or to find out which district you are in or will pass through.
2. Is there a Total Fire Ban in the area you are travelling to?
Check out bans, restrictions and ratings and what you can and can’t do at cfa.vic.gov.au
3. Are you keeping up to date with the local weather conditions?
You can monitor weather conditions and the daily Fire Danger Rating in the district you're travelling in by listening to ABC or local radio or visiting cfa.vic.gov.au
4. Are you prepared to change your travel plans on hot, dry and windy days?
On these days it's better to visit safer places such as cities and towns. Never travel into any high-risk bushfire area where a Code Red has been declared.
5. Do you have the Victorian Bushfire Information Line saved in your mobile phone and have you downloaded the free CFA app for smartphones?
You can phone VBIL or use the app to find out about Fire Danger Ratings, Total Fire Bans, emergency warnings (if there is a fire) and key bushfire preparation and planning information. Call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667 or download the FireReady app for smartphones.
Mr Ferguson said people also needed to put plans in place if they were camping or caravanning, including asking for information on alternative routes to leave the area and if there is a Neighbourhood Safer Place nearby - a place of last resort where you can go if you are caught by not leaving early enough.
“Never travel into any high-risk bushfire areas where a Code Red has been forecast,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The only way to guarantee your safety is to leave early and be away from the threat of fire - if you’re in two minds about leaving, you should leave early. Wait and it’s too late.”
Mr Ferguson said Victorians travelling to summer holiday houses and accommodation also needed to be prepared.
“Every property near dense forest, bush, grassland or the coast needs to be prepared for bushfire. Even if your plan is to leave early on fire risk days, you need to prepare your property,” Mr Ferguson said.
“People with holiday homes should ensure this work is done before they visit – this can include burning off grass, stubble, weeds, undergrowth and other vegetation outside the Fire Danger Period and various home improvements to reduce the impact of embers on your home.”
For help or advice on preparing your property, visit cfa.vic.gov.au or book a free, one-on-one appointment through the Home Bushfire Advice Service online or by phoning the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.
For more information on travelling or to create your own travellers checklist, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/staying-safe-when-you-travel/
Travellers can also check road closures and traffic alerts by visiting the VicRoads website, www.vicroads.vic.gov.au