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Bushfire Preparedness

Found in: Leadership Blog

Last week I attended a “Bushfire Preparedness” meeting that was run by one or our parents - Claire S, in her role as a Red Cross representative.

Having lived in the hills for over 10 years and been evacuated twice, I found Claire’s presentation profoundly helpful. I’ve asked Claire to put some information into our newsletter, as it is often difficult for families with children to attend these types of meetings.

The whole point of information is to move you (me too) from a guilty, “I must get around to doing that” to a self-congratulating, “Done”.

Mr Rod McNeill

Emergency Preparedness Session

This week we had an Emergency Preparedness information session for parents and members of the wider community. The session was presented by the Australian Red Cross Emergency Services department with two guests attending from the Stoneville Volunteer Fire Brigade and a Fire Hazard and Inspection Officer from the Shire of Mundaring to answer questions. The session was very informative and I thought it would be valuable to share some key points.

The Red Cross advise it is critical to Prepare Your Mind for emergencies. We know they happen, especially after the Parkerville, Stoneville and Mt Helena Bushfire - but did you know one in three Australians will go through some sort of emergency in their lifetime. They are frightening and stressful. It’s important to recognise how you react to stress and how it makes you think and feel such as panic, getting irritable, shortness of breath, or an upset stomach. Establishing good stress management techniques including mindfulness or deep breathing is critical to remain calm and think more clearly allowing you to make better decisions in an emergency.

There is a website and app called Smiling Mind https://smilingmind.com.au/ with activities that may be helpful.

The Red Cross have a tool called RediPlan which you can download at http://www.redcross.org.au/prepare.aspx . It has four easy steps to help you get prepared.  A few key points are outlined below:

1. Get in the know - This is ensuring you know where to get information before and during an emergency.  For example;

  • Bureau of meteorology (BOM)
  • Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) - ensure you understand what the warnings and Fire Danger Ratings mean
  • Emergency WA website https://www.emergency.wa.gov.au/. - the new alerts and warnings website
  • Emergency Australia App
  • ABC radio
  • Shire of Mundaring
  • Social Media sites

2. Get Connected - People who are better connected are less vulnerable and can recover from emergencies quicker. Think about who is in your network. For example, family, friends, church groups, neighbours, sport, craft, hobby school groups etc.

  • Consider joining or starting a Bushfire Ready group (get more info from your local volunteer fire brigade – open Saturday mornings)
  • Ensure you have an out of town contact and meeting place to enable family and loved ones to reunite if telecommunications go down
  • Write down important phone numbers

3. Get Organised

  • Have a written plan (templates are in the RediPlan). Think of as many different scenarios as you can, for example what if you’re at work, what if you lose electricity, what if roads are blocked, what if your teenagers are home alone, what if telecommunications go down, what will you do with your pets, what is your trigger to leave
  • Ensure everyone in the family is involved
  • Have a Will
  • Appoint Next of Kin
  • Review your Insurance
  • Prepare your property – including fuel load reduction
  • Review your plan annually and practice it with the whole family

4. Get Packing - Pack an emergency kit to include:

  • Survival items- items that you may need if you need to leave your home quickly eg water, food, torch etc
  • Recovery Items – includes the items that matter most to you, that are precious to you and can’t be replaced. Examples include photo’s, war medals, memorabilia from your children, family heirlooms, special art piece or jewellery etc. Keep a list on top of your emergency kit so you don’t forget them
  • Digitise your important documentation/photo’s or keep a copy elsewhere

Share the message about getting prepared with as many people as possible to ensure our whole community can get prepared and hence be more resilient.