If You Choose to Go
Complete a bushfire survival plan to help you decide what you will do if fire threatens. If planning to leave, complete the 'Leave' part of the survival plan.
Even if you have decided to leave early for a safer 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; and
· 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's threatened by bushfire, you should leave early, hours before the fire reaches your home.
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.
Many people who die in bushfires do so because they leave just before the fire arrives, and are overrun by the fire in the open, or 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, and before gale-force winds develop.
When leaving, lock up your home and tell neighbours where you can be contacted.
Go somewhere safe, such as to relatives or friends who live in areas that aren't close to the bush. Or you might decide to spend the day shopping, at the library or at the beach.
If you have a shack that is well-protected or not in the path of a bushfire, you may plan to relocate there for a few days.
If you have nowhere to go, listen to ABC Local Radio for the location of any community fire refuges that may have been activated. 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 will take, 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.
For more information refer to the emergency kits fact sheet.
If caught unawares
Even the best plans can go wrong, and you may not have enough warning to leave early and safely. This is why you should prepare your home for bushfire even if your plan is to leave if fire threatens, as it will provide shelter from radiant heat and protect you in most bushfires as long as you actively defend it.
Even if your plan is to leave, you should identify nearby safer places you can go to if you are caught by surprise and your home cannot be defended safely, or catches fire.
The use of nearby safer places in these circumstances is not necessarily a safe option – people planning to leave should do so well before a fire threatens. Fleeing a bushfire at the last minute is extremely dangerous, and nearby safer places should only be used as a last resort. Sheltering at a nearby safer place may be uncomfortable, even basic facilities may be unavailable, and firefighters are unlikely to be in attendance.
Plan to return home as soon as it's safe. 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.
In some cases road blocks will have been set up. 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 Local Radio or local radio stations.
If your home is destroyed, contact your local council for assistance in the first instance.
If you choose to go...