You should leave early, hours before the fire reaches your home.

I am leaving

I will leave early to avoid the danger.

Planning to leave early

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.

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.

Download Leave Early Checklist & Plan Find out more about Community Bushfire Protection Plans and nearby safer places for your area. Pack a first aid kit Leaving early
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.

Nearby safer places

A nearby safer place is a place of last resort for people during bushfire emergencies.

If you have no bushfire survival plan, or your plan has failed, a nearby safer place may be your last resort when there is an imminent threat of bushfire.

A nearby safer place is a building or space that may give some protection from the life-threatening effects of radiant heat during a bushfire. Nearby safer places may include town centres, ground level water (eg rivers, in-ground pools, dams), or large open areas (eg beaches, ploughed or green fields, golf courses, well-maintained sports fields or parks).

If you leave early, you should relocate to somewhere well away from the bushfire affected area. A nearby safer place may not be the safest choice, as there are risks getting to a nearby safer place and sheltering there.

Risks include:
  • Death or serious injury
  • Travelling to a nearby safer place may be dangerous, and the road could be blocked by fire, heavy smoke, fallen trees, poor visibility and heavy traffic.
  • There is no guarantee that you will be safe from fire or radiant heat when travelling to a nearby safer place, or when sheltering there.
  • You may experience extreme conditions while sheltering in a nearby safer place, such as extreme heat, high winds, fire noise, embers, smoke and ash.
  • There is no guarantee that emergency services will be present to help or protect you.
  • There may be limited parking and space.
  • There will be no food, water or toilet facilities.
  • There will not be assistance for people with special needs (eg infants, people with disabilities or health issues).
  • Nearby safer places do not exist in all communities. There may not be one in your community or near enough to you home for you to reach it in time.

A nearby safer place is a last resort for shelter during a bushfire. While it is safer than trying to out-run a fire front in a car or on foot, it is much safer to have left the fire area much earlier or to be defending a well-prepared home.

Leaving early is always the safest option

On high fire risk days or actual fire days:

  • Block drain-pipes and fill gutters with water.
  • Remove flammable items from the exterior of the house e.g. blinds, outdoor furniture, door mats.
  • Pack planned belongings into your car and leave in accordance with your plan.

When to leave?

  • What will prompt you to go? The trigger might be a very high fire danger rating (Check the forecast FDR in your area or check your daily newspaper.) or a fire breaking out nearby. Plan to leave early, many hours before the fire reaches your home to avoid being caught in smoke, the fire, or on a congested road.
Most people who die in bushfires are caught in the open, either in their car or on foot, because they've left their property too late, when the fire is approaching.

This summer, the Tasmania Fire Service may identify places in bushfire-prone areas where people can shelter during a bushfire.

Evacuation Centres

Evacuation centres are for people who leave early when a bushfire threatens, and do not have somewhere safe to go outside of the fire impact area, such as the home of a friend or family member.

Evacuation centres are buildings that have been identified by councils, in partnership with TFS and other government services. They will usually be public buildings that provide temporary shelter, drinking water and toilet facilities.

  • Evacuation centres will usually be outside the expected path of the bushfire.
  • If they are in the area directly affected by bushfire, evacuation centres will provide shelter from the fire's radiant heat, smoke and embers.
  • Evacuation centres will not be available for all bushfires. There will not be one in every community.
  • If an evacuation centre is opened, TFS will advertise it through ABC local radio and on the TFS homepage.
  • Evacuation centres may only have very basic shelter and services. They will only be open for a short period of time.
  • You can take pets to the refuge, as long as you can control and look after them. You may not be allowed to take pets inside the shelter. Livestock and large animals won't be allowed at the refuge.

TFS advises that the safest option in a bushfire is to leave early for a place that is outside the bushfire affected area.

If you are not sure where to go if there is a bushfire you may choose to go to an evacuation centre.

Bushfires do not arrive at convenient times. Many bushfires start late in the afternoon.
What will you do if you have visitors staying with you? Will any family members be away on business or holiday?
Make sure you revise your Bushfire Survival Plan whenever your circumstances change.