As summer officially begins and Victoria has its first taste of extended warmer conditions, Victorians are being urged to prepare to stay safe this season.
Fire restrictions are now in force across North West, Northern Victoria and the far West, with mid-West, Central and North East areas following in the next few weeks.
The seasonal outlook for December to February, released by the Australian and New Zealand National Council for fire and emergency services last week, indicates the potential for an average to lower-than average bushfire season in Victoria, but CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said it was no time to get complacent.
“We know it only takes one bad day to have a bad fire season so we need to stay vigilant this summer,” he said.
“Many people have already prepared their properties, but recent wet conditions mean we’ve seen a lot of vegetation growth, so it’s important to keep maintaining your property by keeping your grass low and any other vegetation cut back as well.
“If you haven’t prepared your property, it is definitely high time to do so.
“CFA has already declared Fire Danger Periods in many parts of Victoria, so if you’re hoping to burn off any cleared vegetation, make sure you check what rules are in place where you live.
“Always monitor conditions on the day of your burn-off and beyond as flare-ups can happen for several days after if the burn-off has not been extinguished properly.”
Chief Officer Heffernan said the start of summer was also a timely reminder to make a bushfire survival plan if you do not already have one in place.
“Before you get too busy with festive season celebration and Christmas shopping, spend some time to make a plan to keep your family safe,” he said.
“Your plan should include things like which Fire Danger Rating will be your trigger to leave, where you will go, and what route you will take – and it should always consider different scenarios and back-up plans.”
CFA’s website (cfa.vic.gov.au) contains information about how to make a bushfire survival plan and preparing an emergency kit of vital things to take with you when leaving early.
“Leaving early means leaving the night before, or early in the morning of, a high-risk fire day. It means it’s easier to make good, rational decisions and avoid panic, or becoming trapped and risking serious injury or death,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
Victorians who live, work in or travel into areas at risk of grass or bushfires are also encouraged to undertake the free, publicly available Bushfire Safety for Workers e-learning module to learn how to stay safe if faced with a bushfire situation this summer.