Australia’s beautiful landscapes come with a caveat – the ever-looming threat of bushfires. With bushfire season upon us, it’s paramount for residents to be proactive in their safety measures, both for their homes and their health. Staying safe during bushfire season is imperative.
Here are some of the steps you can take to protect your home and wellbeing.
- Protect your home: Crucial steps in home fire prevention include regularly cleaning gutters and removing dry leaves and debris to prevent embers from igniting your home. You should also clear dead scrub, keep grass short and maintain a defensible space around your property. Installing metal screens on windows and enclosing open areas under decks will also deny embers easy entry points.
- Create a family emergency plan: Prepare your family for emergencies. Develop an evacuation plan and practice it. Designate meeting points, establish communication channels, and ensure everyone knows what to do if a bushfire threatens your area. Stay informed about local alerts and warnings and be ready to act swiftly.
- Staying safe indoors – handling smoke and ash: During bushfires, the air quality can severely deteriorate due to smoke and ash particles. To maintain indoor air quality, keep windows and doors closed. Use air purifiers with HEPA filters to trap fine particles. Create a clean room where family members can retreat, preferably with an air purifier, to breathe more easily when smoke levels are high outside.
- Breathing at home and work: At home, consider using wet cloths to seal gaps under doors and windows, preventing smoke infiltration. Wear N95 masks certified for smoke protection when outdoors. At work, employers should provide N95 masks for employees and create indoor safe zones. Ensure ventilation systems are well-maintained and consider implementing remote work options during heavy smoke events.
- Community preparedness – let’s look out for each other: Community preparedness is as vital as individual efforts. Encourage your neighbours to create fire-safe zones around their homes. Participate in local community meetings and bushfire drills. Stay connected with vulnerable community members, ensuring they are aware of evacuation procedures and have the support they need.
- Maintaining emotional wellbeing: Bushfire season can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Stay connected with loved ones, and don’t hesitate to seek support from counselling services if needed. Stay informed, but limit exposure to distressing media coverage. Engage in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress.