The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) is urging us all to be prepared for summer, with the Southern Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook saying Tasmania will experience 'above normal fire potential' on the east coast, Derwent Valley and south-east corner of the state, and 'normal fire potential' for the remainder of the state.
The TFS has developed more than 150 Community Protection Plans for individual communities – check the TFS website to see if there is a Community Protection Plan for your area. You can now develop a Bushfire Survival Plan online by visiting the Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods section of the TFS website.
During the summer holidays a lot of Tasmanians, their friends and relatives, and visitors will be travelling around exploring our island state. The TFS has developed a fantastic set of tips to keep you safe while out and about in unfamiliar areas.
Know your risk
The declaration of a Total Fire Ban day is an indicator of risk. The TFS may declare Total Fire Bans in some regions or even across the whole state on days when conditions cause fires to become uncontrollable. On Total Fire Ban days – which usually have high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity – activities that may start a fire are prohibited.
Fire Danger Ratings are another indicator of your risk. They aren't a prediction of how likely a bushfire is to happen, but tell us how bad a bushfire could be if it did start on that day. On severe, extreme and catastrophic fire danger days or Total Fire Ban days, it is best to postpone any trip into the bush because of the dangers of fire starting and moving rapidly. If your travel or activities place you in areas of high risk, you should postpone your trip or plan an alternative route or activity.
Travelling on the road
Driving through smoke, ash and glowing embers is stressful and dangerous. A drive that would normally take five minutes may take several hours through road closures, smoke, embers, fallen trees or power lines. If you are aware of bushfires before you leave, plan an alternative route and do not travel to the affected area. If you come across smoke while travelling, turn around and go back.
Listen to the radio and ask locally for help to find a safe way through.
Prepare: Find out whether you are in – or will be travelling through – a bushland area and what today's Fire Danger Rating is. Stay alert and informed.
Act: Remain vigilant of your surroundings, and follow any advice or directions provided by emergency services personnel or via an emergency broadcast on local radio. Let someone know your plans and how to contact you.
Survive: Radiant heat can kill. To protect yourself, you need to cover up, dress appropriately and take refuge. Cover all exposed skin in natural fibres (e.g. wool, cotton) to protect yourself from radiant heat.
Radiant heat cannot penetrate solid objects, which means your best (but not guaranteed) protection is in a well-prepared house or structure.
Where to go on high fire danger days
Leaving a bushland area early, before a fire starts, is always the safest option for your survival.
Stay Alert and Informed
• Check Total Fire Ban information and Fire Danger Ratings at fire.tas.gov.au or on the TFS
Twitter and Facebook pages.
• Listen to ABC local radio to hear bushfire warnings.
• Check with an accredited visitor information centre.
• Use your own senses: What's the weather look like? Can you smell smoke? You may not get an official warning.
• Do not rely on electronic mapping devices like GPS or mobile phones as they may be affected by smoke and local conditions, or reception gaps in remote areas. Keep a hard copy of a local map.