The sweet sound of rain this week has given many people a few days of welcome respite from the harrowing days and weeks of before. We know that the pause though, is short, and increased fire danger will return, threatening new communities.
Despite all the warnings, we still hear of people getting out just in time with just the clothes they are wearing. Despite all the good advice, people found themselves without food, water, petrol, light, or cash. This could be taken as blame, but its not. People just don’t think its going to happen to them. But we’ve now seen the images of people queuing for supermarkets, petrol etc. Now is the time to get ready again for the next threat.
We think of getting prepared as doing the practical things, but for me, the most important first step is preparing your mind. You want to make good decisions and remain in control during a threat. This forms the cornerstone of our preparedness program, and is recognised by researchers Danielle Every and Mel Taylor as being extremely important. How many stories did we hear of people being “fucking scared” Anticipate what might happen, identify how you might react (and what the triggers are), and think about management strategies for calming your senses and making good decisions. It might be a breathing technique, or saying a mantra.
Ensure that you know how to prepare your home for bushfire. Check your fire service for information on how to do this. There’s plenty of good advice to aid your decision making. Download the appropriate emergency app, and if you use social media, then follow police, fires services, ABC Emergency, and Bureau of Meteorology in your state. Make sure you have a battery radio with spare batteries (or a wind up one) and know your ABC frequency.
Don’t rely on your mobile phone working. Having a meeting place so if you are separated from family members, you all know where to meet. Or have an out of town contact that you can let know where you are going. Register with the Red Cross before you leave evacuate, and let people know your intentions.
Check on neighbours to see if they need help, or if they understand the fire risk. The might be new to the area. Swap phone numbers so you can keep in touch
Make sure you have copies of all your important documents, and address book. Check your insurance. Identify the things that are emotionally important to you. People say to us, oh its all just stuff, and I am glad to be alive. This is their adrenaline talking. Months later when they go to look for a recipe book, or a favourite jumper, or a photo album, sadness sets in. Make sure everyone in the house knows what’s important too.
Stock up! Food, water, petrol, cash. Have food you can prepare with out power. Have enough for at least 3 days, but preferably more.
And don’t forget, as its going to be hot, be prepared to deal with heat.
These are all the little things you can do. It’s pretty easy by following our rediplan preparedness advice. Our app can guide you through the process too. There is an excellent resource for people living with a disability from the University of Sydney. The NSW Deaf Society have produced an AUSLAN version of Rediplan
For me, the contact card is a really important tool.This card, above the phone in the study, is really useful, because I can’t remember my daughters’ phone numbers, and there they are, filled out and ready to be used when I have to fill out some form or another. It took me 5 ½ minutes to fill out the contact card in Rediplan, the same time as it takes to make a cup of tea. And we all love a cuppa.