With the bushfire season in Victoria only just begun, we decided to catch up with the experts to find out what you can do to help stay safe when venturing into the outdoors during the Aussie summer.
Andy Gillham, a Ranger in Charge with Parks Victoria based in Gippsland, has seen 27 bushfire seasons in his time. Andy said one of the most important items to have on your Bushfire Plan is your list of key contacts.
When building your bushfire plan, there are some important numbers and services you should be aware of that can help you if you happen to get into trouble, if you spot the signs of a bushfire, or if you need up-to-date information regarding the current fire risk within the fire district you are visiting.
Victorian Fire Weather Districts
There are nine fire weather districts in Victoria; districts release their fire danger rating each day relevant to the current weather conditions. When building your bushfire plan, make sure you know which district you are going to and the different levels of fire danger.
The Victorian fire weather districts are:
West and South Gippsland
Personal Contacts - Tell Your Friends, Tell Your Family
Before you make a list of relevant authorities and emergency contacts, it’s a great idea to jot down the names of a couple of personal contacts as well. Make sure you let a friend or family member know where you are going, the time and date you are leaving, and when you expect to return. If for some reason you are unable to get information out on the road you can always call your contact and find out about the current bushfire danger from them.
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Key Contacts and Bushfire Information Services
Andy suggests some great contacts to have in your bushfire plan.
The FireReady App
The FireReady app is the official fire safety app from the Victorian Government and keeps you up-to-date with current bushfire warnings and information. The app uses you location in order to notify you of bushfires in your area, giving you time to get out if necessary. Of course, we can’t always rely on technology. It’s best to make sure you know the risks before you go so you can change plans accordingly.
CFA, Parks Victoria Websites and the VBIL
Before leaving on your trip, it’s a good idea to check out the CFA and Parks Victoria websites for up-to-date information about the current bushfire risk at your destination.
The Victorian Bushfire Information Line (1800 240 667) is the number to call for information about bushfires, i.e. preparation for heading to the bush during bushfire season, to learn about fire danger ratings and what they mean, and so much more. The VBIL is not the number to call to report a bushfire: it is not an emergency service. To report signs of a bushfire, call 000.
Have these Contacts on Your Bushfire Plan
Before heading out into the Victorian bush make sure you have a list of key contacts including:
The number of a friend or family member
The VBIL - 1800 240 667
ABC radio is the best station for up to date rural reports
The FireReady App (optional)
And be sure to check out the CFA and Parks Victoria websites before you go. They are loaded with great information not only relevant to bushfires. The more you know, the more confidence you will have while exploring the great Victorian outdoors!