Tips & tricks

Prepare for bushfire season

This years' Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook is in. The East Coast of Tasmania is forecast to have above-normal bushfire activity, with normal risk for the rest of the state.

The best defence against bushfire is knowing your risk and being prepared. Make sure you know exactly what to do before, during and after fire strikes.

 

Plan ahead

  • Check the TFS website to see if there is a Community Protection Plan for your area. 

  • Prepare your family’s Bushfire Survival Plan.

  • Stockpile emergency supplies like bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, clothing and medicines.

  • Keep an emergency radio handy with a battery source in case you need to listen to emergency reports and to call for help if you need to.


Ember-proof your home

Ember attacks are the most common cause of house fire during a bushfire. Here are some steps to help you protect your home:

 

  • Fill in gaps around doors, windows, walls, roofs, floors and vents.

  • Block all external gaps and fit metal fly mesh over windows and external vent covers.

  • Block off underfloor areas to stop embers from getting in.

  • Clear an area of at least 20m around your home. Get rid of all flammable material including dry grass and undergrowth, fallen branches, dry wood, leaves, tree bark and rubbish. If you live on a slope, this increases the area you need to clear.

  • Once you’ve cleared this area, spray with herbicide to stop re-growth.

  • Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings.

  • Clear your gutters of debris and install metal gutter guards.

  • Repair damaged or missing tiles on your roof.

  • If you have a large block create fuel breaks like patios, pathways and ponds to help slow the fire.

  • Keep flammable chemicals away from your home in a secure location.

  • Keep some long hoses to hand so you can deal with any spot fires.

  • If you have a sprinkler system, use it. It might be enough to stop anything sparking alight.


Prepare your family and pets

There are two options when it comes to bushfire safety. The safest option is to leave early before the bushfire reaches your home, or you can stay and defend your property. 


As part of your Bushfire Survival Plan, decide which items you will need to take with you and organise them ahead of time. You should also decide where you'll go if you need to relocate, and plan what to do with your pets and livestock. It’s important to monitor the weather and know the fire danger alert levels in your area.


Fires can break out suddenly and there may be no time for official warnings so be sure to monitor alerts. Tune in to ABC local radio stations and follow Tasmania Fire Service on social media for bushfire information and updates.


Know your risk

The declaration of a Total Fire Ban 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 can cause fires to become uncontrollable. 


Total Fire Ban days usually have high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. Any activity that may start a fire is prohibited, including mowing your lawn!


Fire Danger Ratings are another indicator of risk. They aren't a prediction of how likely a bushfire is to happen, but they 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 travel plans that place you in areas of high risk or plan an alternative route.


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're aware of bushfires before you leave, plan an alternative route and don't 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.


If you're affected by bushfire

Be vigilant of your surroundings and follow any advice or direction from emergency services personnel or via an emergency broadcast on local radio. Let someone know your plans and how to contact you.

 

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). Radiant heat can't penetrate solid objects, so your best (but not guaranteed) protection is in a well-prepared house or structure.

 

Stay alert and informed

  • Check Total Fire Ban information and Fire Danger Ratings on the TFS website or social media.

  • 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.

  • Don't rely on GPS or mobile phones as they may be affected by smoke, local conditions, or reception gaps in remote areas. Keep a hard copy of a local map.


Bushfire-ready neighbourhood events

Tasmania Fire Service, through the award-winning bushfire-ready neighbourhoods program, is holding a series of bushfire-ready events state-wide. See whats coming up in your area.