Victorian families will be excitedly hitting the road this festive season, but before taking off firefighters are reminding travellers to check the conditions and the VicEmergency app before making tracks.
While intermittent rainfall has been a feature of Victorian conditions in the months heading into summer, communities cannot become complacent about the increasing fire risk this season.
Recent conditions have resulted in significant grass growth and these fuels have been drying out quickly in the northern and western parts of the state.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan encouraged Victorians to prepare before enjoying a much-needed break or festive getaway to see friends and family.
“You may be travelling to an unfamiliar area, or this might be the first time you’ve enjoyed unrestricted travel over the Christmas period in a few years; either way, it’s important to understand the fire risk over the coming weeks,” he said.
“Grassfires can move at speeds of up to 25km per hour, faster than you can run, and they can jump highways in the right conditions.
“Visitors should learn which fire district they are travelling to and monitor the Fire Danger Ratings every day throughout summer."
Victorians are urged to download the VicEmergency app and set up watch zones for the location they’re visiting. That way the app will issue a notification for any fires or other emergency incidents in the area.
“We all must stay vigilant around fire this season – our crews have already responded to several grassfires this season,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
A new Fire Danger Rating system was introduced in 2022 across Australia, so whether you're at home or travelling you will see the same rating system.
The system reduces the number of danger levels from six in the previous system, to four: Moderate, High, Extreme and Catastrophic.
You should reconsider your travel on days of Extreme Fire Danger Rating and do not travel to bushfire risk areas on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger Rating – your life may depend on the decisions you make during a Catastrophic day.
Victorians can learn more about the new Fire Danger Rating system on the CFA website.
Those camping and hosting barbecues must also take precautions this festive season to protect themselves and their families.
“If you plan to have a campfire, stay within 50 metres of it at all times and before leaving or going to bed, make sure you have fully extinguished it with water, not soil,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
“Take the time to make the necessary safety checks on your barbecue; just spray the hose and regulator connections with soapy water before switching it on.
“Soapy bubbles will appear if gas is escaping – if this happens, turn the gas off and fix or replace the connections.”
Traveller safety tips: