Even if you have decided to leave early for a safe place well before a bushfire threatens your home, you should take steps to prepare it for bushfire. If you do:
- Firefighters are more likely to defend it.
- Even if firefighters are unavailable, your home will be more likely to survive on its own.
When and where to go
If you have chosen to leave your home if it is threatened by bushfire, you should leave early, hours before the fire reaches your home.
Many people who die in bushfires do so because they leave just before the fire arrives, are overrun by the fire in the open, are trapped by fallen trees and power lines, or crash due to poor visibility. If leaving, leave early, well before fire threatens your home and your escape route.
On days when extreme or catastrophic Fire Danger Ratings are forecast, winds are likely to be strong enough to bring down trees and power lines well before any fire threatens, making travel difficult. If there is the possibility of fire threatening your home, you should plan to leave well before gale-force winds develop.
When leaving, lock up your home and tell neighbours where you can be contacted. Go somewhere safe, such as relatives or friends who live in areas that are not close to the bush.
If you have nowhere to go, listen to ABC Radio for the location of any evacuation centre. This should be a safe alternative place to relocate to. Leave in plenty of time to arrive safely.
How to get there
Plan the route you might take, including alternative routes and avoid driving in areas where fires are burning. If driving, make sure your car has enough fuel for the journey and is mechanically sound. If nervous about driving, consider using a taxi or asking a friend to collect you.
What to take
You should plan to be away from home for at least 24 hours, and if the worst happens and your home is destroyed,you should ensure that you have taken with you important documents and other valuable items and memorabilia.
Take cash and credit cards, insurance policies, family albums and other easily carried items of value. Take spare clothes and other items you would normally take on a short trip. Ensure you take sufficient water and food for the trip.
Pets can be frightened by bushfires. If possible, take them with you, or make sure they have plenty of water and food.
During a bushfire your pets will need water, shade and a safe place to stay. If you have livestock that can be moved out of the area, allow yourself plenty of time to relocate them.
If possible, move larger animals to paddocks with little vegetation. At the start of the bushfire season consider slashing a paddock to create a safer area. Never turn animals out on to the road to run free. This is dangerous for fire trucks and vehicles, and you may be legally responsible if they cause a crash.
Pets and livestock are not always allowed at evacuation centres, so you need to consider what you will do with them in your bushfire survival plan.
Getting back after the fire
Check with police, fire authorities and your local emergency services before trying to go home. Even if the fire has been controlled, there may be other safety issues that you are unaware of that may affect your ability to return home.
Plan to return home as soon as it is safe to do so. Often homes don't burn down until several hours after the fire has passed, so if you can return safely, you still may be able to save your home.
Be aware that fire trucks, fallen trees, power poles and wires and burnt bridges may close some roads for several hours or days. Electricity workers will be working to restore power supplies to affected areas as quickly as possible may also block roads.
In some cases road blocks will have been established. This is because the area you plan to enter is unsafe. Take advice from the authorities and avoid trying to re-enter unsafe areas. Access may be restricted and residents may be unable to return home for several hours or days.
For details of road closures listen to ABC Radio or local radio stations, or visit the Tasmania Fire Service homepage.
If your home is destroyed, contact your local council in the first instance for assistance.