Prepare for an emergency

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1. Bushfires

Find information here on what to do before, during and after a fire, places of last resort and more.

Fire prevention

Landowners and occupiers are responsible for fire prevention on their properties, and there are steps you can take now to prepare your home for the summer fire season each year and give it the best chance of surviving a bushfire.

This includes:

  • Removal of fire hazards and potential fire hazards from properties
  • Cleaning out gutters, mowing the lawn and management or removing vegetation
  • Reducing the number of flammable items within a 30m radius of your house
  • Regular testing and maintenance of extinguishers and hose reels
  • Maintenance of clear exits
  • Practicing emergency evacuation procedures where appropriate as outlined in your Bushfire Survival Plan. 

Inspections of properties across the Shire are conducted each year and landowners with fire hazards will receive a clean up notice. Owners failing to comply may be fined. We may also remove the hazard and charge the owner for the completed works.

Anyone wishing to conduct a private burn in an urban area will need to apply for a Permit to Burn. For more details on fire restrictions during the Fire Danger Period, please visit cfa.vic.gov.au.  

All permits issued by Municipal Fire Prevention Officers are suspended for the duration of any Total Fire Ban Day. Also strict guidelines may apply during the Fire Danger Period.

You will find more detailed information on fire prevention in CFA’s Your Guide to Property Preparation.

 

Before, during and after

Before a bushfire or grassfire:

  • Attend a CFA Fire Ready meeting or Bushfire Planning workshop
  • Understand your fire risk: bushfire, grassfire, hilly, in town?
  • Write a Bushfire Survival Plan
  • Decide if and who will stay and actively defend or leave early. Plan for those most at risk: children, frail elderly, those with special needs
  • Prepare your property and have an emergency kit ready.

During:

  • Check warnings and information
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Protect people from radiant heat
  • Drink plenty of water.

After:

  • Check information updates
  • Keep wearing protective clothing
  • Keep checking for embers after the fire front as passed
  • Take care around trees, branches and trees can fall without warning.

You can find more information in CFA’s Fire Ready Kit or by phoning the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 2226 226. 

 

Neighbourhood Safe Places - Places of Last Resort

A Neighbourhood Safer Place (NSP) is not a community fire refuge or emergency relief centre. NSPs are places of last resort during the passage of a bushfire, and are intended to be used only when your primary bushfire survival plan has failed.

NSPs do not guarantee the survival of those who assemble there. There may also be serious risks to safety encountered in travelling to NSPs during a bushfire and there may be no services or facilities and some sites offer minimum protection from radiant heat and embers. 

Depending on the position and direction of a bushfire, a designated NSP may not be safer than other locations within the area.

We have designated several sites across the shire as NSPs, but not all our towns have one.

We encourage every resident to have a Bushfire Survival Plan and to practice it. If you live in a high-risk area, plan to leave the night before on days of code red fire danger. On days of severe or extreme fire danger, plan to leave early in the morning and plan ahead about where you can go.

Do not go to an NSP if you are leaving the area early during a bushfire emergency. More information on NSPs can be found on the CFA website. 

NSP locations:

  • Beechworth: Memorial Hall, Ford Street
  • Beechworth: Police Paddocks, High Street
  • Yackandandah: Senior Citizens, Wellsford Street
  • Yackandandah: Memorial Gardens, High Street
  • Chiltern: Memorial Hall, Conness Street
  • Tangambalanga: Community Centre, 29 Kiewa East Road
  • Stanley: Recreation Reserve Pavilion, Pioneer Road
  • Rutherglen: Showgrounds Reserve Open Space, High Street
  • Barnawartha: Recreation Reserve Pavilion, Havelock Street
  • Sandy Creek: Recreation Reserve Pavilion, Lockharts Gap Road

 See VicEmergency's interactive NSPs map.

 

Fire plugs

We conduct annual checks on fire plugs as it is essential they are obvious and accessible. Residents are not to obscure fire plugs or plant bushes, shrubs or trees that make the location of fire plugs difficult to find or access.

Why not have a look around and see where the Fire Plug that protects your property is located?

If you would like further information on fire plugs and their locations, or wish to lodge a maintenance report, please contact us.

 

Community Information Guides - Bushfire

Community Information Guides - Bushfire are a key source of information for the community and an important tool to emphasise the shared responsibility between the community, fire services and local government.

CFA have created guides for a number of communities statewide that are deemed to be at risk of bushfire or grassfire.

Your Community Information Guide provides important direction and information for communities to assist with planning before, during and after a fire.

A full list of the guides for Victoria is available in alphabetical order at CFA Online.  

Know the Rules Before Burning Off

 

2. Floods

Spring Rains may bring Spring Floods. Get Flood Ready

The Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is preparing for floods in Spring 2020, and asking every community member to take notice now and Get Flood Ready.   

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) outlook includes potential for La Niña weather, bringing heavy Spring rains to South Eastern Australia and a higher risk of floods in the already wet North East.  

Adding extra risk, areas affected by last Summer’s bushfires respond differently as heavy rains can trigger dangerous landslides on burnt ground, and it’s more prone to flash flooding. These are already areas that VICSES is watching closely in the event of any rain.  

There are simple ways to Get Flood Ready at home, on the farm and in business and now is the time to take action: 

Find Your Local Flood Information and how to Get Ready, including Local Flood Guides for a number of at-risk townships at www.ses.vic.gov.au/get-ready

Plan: Review your Home Emergency Plan or use the Australian Red Cross RediPlan Get Prepared smartphone app to make an all hazards plan redcross.org.au/prepare. Experience shows that those who plan and prepare for emergencies can reduce the impact of the emergency, and can recover quicker afterwards.

Decide what items are most important for you to protect and make a list for your plan.

Know what to do if your home is being threatened by major flooding and what it means by Bag It, Block It, Lift It and Leave.

Bag it - by laying sandbags where water may get into your home. Block it - by covering your toilet and drains to prevent back-flow and then ‘Lift-it and Leave’ by shifting valuables onto tables and benchtops and leaving early to a family or friends house on higher ground - which is still ok to do in-line with COVID-19 restrictions. 

Take note to never drive through floodwater. It can take just 15cm of flowing water to float a small car.  The number one cause of death in a flood is people attempting to drive through floodwater.

Remember that higher ground is safer ground:  Always move people, animals and equipment to higher ground or a safer place well before the rain starts and conditions become too dangerous.  

If you require emergency assistance during a flood or storm call SES on 132 500.

If your emergency is life threatening call Triple Zero 000.   

For the latest emergency information and warnings go to VicEmergency: emergency.vic.gov.au 

Victorian State Emergency Service

The Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is the control agency for storms and floods in Victoria, which means that they are responsible for planning for storms and floods, and for managing the response if they do occur.

VICSES does this by assisting municipal councils and other agencies with the provision of advice, information, education and training in relation to emergency management, including the prevention of, response to, and recovery from emergencies.

This is guided by the North East Regional Flood Emergency Plan Municipal Flood Emergency Plan(PDF, 5MB) and the Hume Region Storm Plan.

The StormSafe website has all the information you need including an emergency toolkit. 

It is important to know flood prone areas in your location.

If you are unaware, please contact us or visit your local SES branch.

 

When you hear a warning

  • Listen to the radio and check the VicEmergency website or app for more information and advice.
  • Go over your Emergency Plan.
  • Pack clothing and other extra items into your Emergency Kit and take this with you if you evacuate.

 

When flooding may happen soon

  • Make sure your family members and neighbours are aware of what is happening.
  • Be ready to evacuate. Act early. Conditions change rapidly. Roads and escape routes can be covered or blocked. Don’t forget to take pets and medicine with you.
  • Put household valuables and electrical items as high as possible.
  • Turn off water, gas and electricity at the mains.
  • Secure objects likely to float and cause damage. Raise chemicals and oils well above the forecast flood height.

 

During the flood

For emergency assistance, call 132 500 for VICSES.

  • Never drive, ride or walk through floodwater. This is the main cause of death during floods.
  • Never allow children to play in floodwater. This is the main cause of death during floods for children and young people.
  • Stay away from drains, culverts and waterways. Water can flow quickly and have strong currents.
  • Stay well clear of fallen trees, power lines and damaged buildings.

 

After the flood

  • If your property has been flooded, check with us for information and advice. 
  • Have all electrical and gas equipment professionally tested before use.

Road closures will be listed at vicroads.vic.gov.au

 

3. Heatwaves

We experience prolonged periods of heat from time-to-time and a common sense approach is always required including SunSmart policies, air conditioning and staying out of the heat especially for elderly or at-risk groups.

Victorian Councils have a Heatwave Plan that is used for planning and responding to heatwaves. 

The Department of Health and Human Services operates the heat health alert system which notifies local governments, program areas, hospitals and state-wide and major metropolitan health and community service providers, and the general community of forecast extreme heat and heatwave conditions which are likely to impact on human health. You can sign-up to receive direct heat health alerts or check the VicEmergency website or app for more information and advice.   

There will be a state-wide, co-ordinated response to the impacts and consequences of extreme heat events (including heatwaves) on the community, infrastructure, and services.

Before and during a heatwave

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Drink two to three litres of water each day, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Dress light. Lighter clothing helps your body stay cool. Light-coloured clothing reflects heat and sunlight.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbours especially those most at risk such as the elderly and young children.
  • Stay out of the sun or take shelter. If you need to be out in the sun, wear a shirt, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Sunburn will affect your body's ability to cope with the heat.
  • Draw your curtains, blinds and awnings at the start of the day to keep as much sun out of your home as possible.
  • Seek air conditioning. If you don't have air conditioning at home, spend the day somewhere that does such as a library, cinema or shopping centre. If you do have an air conditioner at home, make sure it has been serviced. Fans will also help you stay cool.
  • Make sure your pets have plenty of shade and enough cool water to last the entire day. Hose them down or put ice cubes in their bowl. Check on them regularly.
  • Don't leave children or pets in parked vehicles.

 

HeatREDI

Extreme heat and heatwaves claim more lives than any other natural hazard in Australia.

People and groups particularly vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat include those living alone, have a disability, are housebound, frail, elderly, recovering from an illness or accident, and those with ongoing illnesses such as diabetes or a heart condition.

Red Cross’ HeatREDi Program provides daily calls to registered clients during extreme heat events. The service is designed to ensure vulnerable people are supported during a heatwave by providing them with daily wellbeing check-ins over the phone, as well as advice on coping with extreme heat.

There are a limited number of registrations still available for HeatREDi this summer. If you or anyone you know may benefit from receiving calls from the HeatREDi program, please register via this form.

 

 

Heat stress

  • If you or those close to you are suffering heat stress, call for help immediately.
  • Symptoms of heat stress include extremely heavy sweating, headache and vomiting, confusion, swollen tongue.
  • All life-threatening situations should be reported by calling triple-0.

 

Cool Relief Centres

Cool Relief Centres are available in hot weather 

Beechworth Health Service and Indigo Shire Council have established Cool Relief Centres in Beechworth, Chiltern, Kiewa, Tangambalanga, Rutherglen and Yackandandah. Cool Relief Centres provide a refuge for people during extreme heat conditions.

Businesses and organisations with air conditioning and seating space are being asked to provide water for those seeking relief from the heat. If you are interested in becoming a Cool Relief Centre please contact Jess Johnston on 1300 365 005.

Cool Relief Centre stickers will be on display on the windows of participating businesses. The following centres have offered their premises, and more will join over summer:

Beechworth

  • Beechworth and District Community Bank
  • Beechworth Bakery
  • Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre, Quercus Bookshop
  • Beechworth Pantry
  • Beechworth Pharmacy
  • Beechworth Surgery
  • Bendigo Bank
  • Commercial Hotel Tanswell
  • Granite Cafe 
  • Hibernian Hotel
  • Beechworth Library
  • WAW Credit Union
  • Visitor information centre

 

Chiltern

  • Chiltern Butcher
  • Chiltern Neighbourhood House - Transport is available for a gold coin donation, please call 0357 261 405 to arrange. 
  • Chiltern Library
  • Telegraph Hotel Chiltern
  • The Iron Bark Tavern Chiltern
  • Paper Trail Studio Chiltern
  • Visitor information centre
  • WAW Credit Union 

 

Rutherglen

  • Star Hotel 
  • Valentines Bakery 
  • Rutherglen Mitre 10
  • Rutherglen Lollyshop
  • Paochers Paradise Pub
  • Silver Keys Cafe
  • Anglican Op Shop
  • Rutherglen Butcher
  • James and Co Wine Bar
  • Star Hotel
  • Victoria Hotel
  • Rutherglen Library
  • Rutherglen Wine Experience and visitor information centre 
  • Pickers Cafe  

 

Yackandandah

  • Yackandandah Community Centre
  • Beechworth Bakery Yackandandah
  • Rusty Bike Cafe
  • Visitor Information Centre
  • Yackandandah Library

 

Kiewa Tangambalanga

  • Kiewa Store
  • Tangambalanga General Store
  • Tangambalanga Hotel

 

Heat can affect everyone so please:

  • Look after yourself and keep in touch with others
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Keep cool (spend as much time as possible in cool or air conditioned buildings)
  • Stay out of the sun

For more information about how to stay safe in the heat, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au.

 

 

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After a heatwave

  • If you or those close to you are suffering heat stress, call for help immediately.
  • Symptoms of heat stress include extremely heavy sweating, headache and vomiting, confusion, swollen tongue.
  • All life-threatening situations should be reported by calling triple-0.