Residents urged to prepare for increased fire weather

INCREASED fire weather is predicted for the region later this week and all agencies involved with the response to the Aberfeldy-Donnellys fire urge landowners in the Erica, Rawson, Walhalla, Heyfield, Maffra and surrounding districts to prepare.

The Country Fire Authority has urged resident to prepare their property and then decide to either leave early before a fire threatens them or their property, or stay and actively defend a well-prepared home.

People who plan to leave are to leave early. They need to make decisions about when they will leave, where they will go, how they will get there and when they will return.

Anyone who plans to stay needs to be well-prepared and prepare early.

Preparations include testing all fire equipment, having plenty of drinking water and food at hand, checking first aid kit and battery radio, and making sure residents have high quality personal safety clothing including a suitable hat and sturdy boots.

Residents should also check what neighbours are planning to do.

House and property: Remove flammable items from decks and verandas, such as boxes, furniture and doormats. Keep grass short and get rid of dry grass, leaves, twigs and loose bark.Keep woodpiles away from the house, as stray embers can easily ignite them. Keep gutters and roof areas clear of leaf litter. Create firebreaks on your property if possible.

Livestock: Solid objects provide protection from the radiant heat that occurs during bushfires, although the best protection is distance. Identify low risk areas are large enough to enable livestock to move far enough away from the radiant heat. Forest and plantation fires burn with much greater intensity than grass fires and produce much greater radiant heat. Therefore, low risk areas should not be next to areas of bushland or at least large enough in size to allow livestock to move far enough away.

Pets: Decide whether you will keep your pets with you or move them elsewhere during days of high fire risk. If you do take them with you; ensure they are in a secure safe room or on a lead, that you have wet towels or woollen blankets to cover and protect them as well as plenty of water to drink.

Horses: If you decide you will leave, with or without your horses, you must do it early on a high-risk day and in advance of knowing there is fire in your area. Have a plan for early evacuation of horses to a safer district. Horse evacuations present unique problems, so make arrangements ahead of time for a place to temporarily relocate your horses or identify a ‘safe’ area on the property where horses can be placed if evacuation is not possible or practical. If your fences are electrified, make sure the remainder of fences are ‘horseproof’, as often power is out during a bushfire.