Whether you intend to use the Labour Day long weekend to relax at home with friends and family, explore Victoria’s great outdoors or work on your property, Victorian emergency services have urged Victorians to take care to stay safe from emergencies.
With some parts of Victoria impacted by rainfall related to more significant weather events in NSW and Queensland, others remain dry despite recent milder conditions.
The Labour Day long weekend is expected to bring dry, mild to warm conditions across the state with light south to south-easterly winds.
VICSES Chief Officer Operations Tim Wiebusch said VICSES volunteers will be activating Driver Reviver sites over the long weekend, encouraging road travellers to take a break on long journeys.
“If you’re driving and you see one, drop in for a free coffee,” he said.
"Stay safe while camping. Never camp under trees or branches and avoid camping on low-lying land near creeks, rivers or streams.
"Some catchments are quite wet particularly in east Gippsland so please be vigilant to the risk of flooding and never drive on flooded roads.
Meanwhile, CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan urged Victorians to also stay informed about fire conditions and keep bushfire plans up to date as days of elevated fire danger could occur well into autumn.
“While Victoria has experienced a milder fire season than average and the Australian Seasonal Outlook for Autumn
forecasts average to below-average fire risk in the state during March to May, fires can still start and spread quickly – particularly on hot, dry and windy days,” he said.
CFA Chief Officer Heffernan reminded Victorians the whole state, except for East Gippsland, is still under fire restrictions and urged anyone wanting to undertake any burning on private property to visit firepermits.vic.gov.au
– the Victorian fire agencies’ one-stop shop to check and apply for a permit and notify authorities of permit activities.
With many Victorians camping or visiting state forests or national parks this long weekend, Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman urged anyone camping to take care despite milder conditions.
“Milder conditions are no excuse to ignore campfire safety and leave campfires unattended. Our crews are often called out to abandoned campfires and it’s crucial the community works with us to prevent bushfires from starting and spreading,” he said.
“Visitors to Victoria’s national parks and state forests should be aware of all exit routes and any evacuation points.”
Victoria’s Chief Conservation Regulator Kate Gavens said Authorised Officers will be patrolling state forests to ensure everyone is responsibly enjoying their time outdoors.
“Our patrols are critical in making sure people know and abide by the rules around campfires,” she said.
“Anyone caught breaking the law when it comes to campfire safety can face significant penalties.”
Unattended campfires should be reported to 136 186, bushfires should be reported to 000.
Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block warned campers to stay away from accelerants, such as petrol or kerosene, when lighting campfires.
On average, 53 people are admitted to hospital in Victoria each year as a result of using accelerants to start a fire, with holiday periods are a key danger period for risky behaviour around recreational fires.
“If you throw an accelerant on a fire you are taking a huge risk as fire can follow the vapours back to the source, such as the bottle of accelerant you are holding,” Commissioner Block said.
“Firefighters are often called to incidents where people have sustained serious burns as a result of using accelerants – please stay safe this long weekend and don’t end up in the burns ward!”
- For travel safety tips, visit: cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/staying-safe-when-you-travel
- Check the Fire Danger Rating by visiting www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/total-fire-bans-and-ratings
- Download the VicEmergency app for real-time updates about emergencies across Victoria.
- Victorians should also make sure they have access to more than one source of information in the event of an emergency, including:
- ABC local radio, commercial and designated community radio stations, or Sky News
- The VicEmergency App
- The VicEmergency website www.emergency.vic.gov.au
- The VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226
- Victorians can find out “Can I or Can’t I?” information at cfa.vic.gov.au/can or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.
- Don’t light a campfire on a Total Fire Ban Day or on other hot, dry and windy days.
- Never leave a campfire unattended – stay within 50m and in sight
- Campfires must be extinguished with water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave.