Preparing a Bushfire Survival Plan with Limited Mobility

Prepare, Act, Survive. These three words are the key principles when it comes to bushfires and community safety. If you’re living in or near bushland, having a bushfire plan in place is critical, without question. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to live in the country to be at risk of fire. If you live near areas that have significant bush, forest, long grass or coastal scrub, then you need to plan ahead for the fire season.

Being prepared for a bushfire can help save you and your family’s lives, your property and your livelihood. If you or a family member has limited mobility, then you need to take extra special care with your plan to ensure you have what you need if the circumstance of a bushfire arises.

Preparing for a bushfire is simpler than you may think. If you don’t have a plan already in place or need to update your current one, take a look at our guide below:

STEP 1) Discuss with your Family or Carer

Fire agencies recommend getting the whole family together to discuss and form an agreement on what you should all do if a bush fire occurs. In the event of a bush fire you have two options:

1. Leave Early (your safest choice)

2. Stay (only if you’re prepared)

Leaving early will always be your safest choice, particularly if you or a family member has limited mobility. The key questions you need to ask in your discussion with your family or carer are:

  • When will we leave? You need to determine what will be your signal to leave. This could be reports of a fire in your area or seeing smoke nearby.
  • Where will we go? You should decide on a safe meeting place away from the fire area. This could be a friend’s house or a local community centre.
  • How will we get there? Planning out the routes for evacuation in your area is mandatory. You need to know and consider all of them in case one is blocked from a fire at the time.
  • What is our back up Plan? If things don’t go to your original plan, you need to create a back up plan. This will ensure time isn’t wasted during a fire deciding on your next move.

For more information about what to consider during your family discussion, read more from the NSW Fire Service here.

STEP 2) Prepare your Home and an Emergency Kit

During bushfire season, it’s important to maintain your house and garden to help prevent fires from spreading. The top ways of doing this are:

  • Trimming back trees
  • Mowing your lawn
  • Removing hazardous materials (such as wood piles, doormats and outdoor furniture)
  • Clearing debris and leaves from gutters

For more information on preparing your home during bushfire season, see here.

You also need to prepare an emergency kit, which should be packed and ready to take before you leave in the event of a fire. Your emergency kit should comprise of an overnight bag with the following items:

  • All your essential toiletries (toothbrush, soap, deodorant etc.).
  • Medications, any specialised mobility assistance equipment, a first-aid kit and prescriptions.
  • Your ID and other important items such as passports, insurance papers, Will as well as your favourite jewellery, photographs or family heirlooms.
  • Mobile phone, charger and portable charger.
  • A battery powered radio, torch & spare batteries.
  • An adequate amount of water and food (for your family and pets).
  • Woolen blankets

STEP 3) Know the Bushfire Alert Levels

Do you know your bushfire alert levels?
Do you know your bushfire alert levels?

Even before the bushfire season, everyone should have a good understanding of what the fire alerts mean and how they are relevant to their fire plan. Put simply, the higher the fire danger rating, the greater the fire conditions which increases your risk of danger. When it’s severe or extreme, you should only stay if your family and home is prepared to the highest of levels. Under catastrophic conditions, leaving early is your only safe option.

STEP 4) Keep Key Information

When temperatures are heating up outside, you need to stay alert and informed so you can make a decision to leave early. Always keep your local radio ABC/emergency broadcaster on. You can also download the ‘Fires Near Me’ free smartphone app which shows you if there are any bushfires in your area.

For your state or territory’s fire service website with emergency hotlines, see below:

New South Wales
NSW Rural Fire Service
Call Bushfire information hotline:
1800 679 737
Victoria
CFA Victoria
Call Bushfire information hotline:
1800 226 226
Queenland
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
Call Bushfire information hotline:
13 74 68
Perth
Department of Fire & Emergency Services
Call Bushfire information hotline:
13 3337
South Australia
South Australian Country Fire Service
Call Bushfire information hotline:
1800 362 361
Tasmania
Tasmania Fire Service
Call Bushfire information hotline:
1800 000 699
Northern Territory
NT Police, Fire & Emergency Services
Call bushfire information hotline:
08 8999 3473
Australian Capital Territory
ACT Emergency Services Agency
Call bushfire information hotline:
02 6205 2927

Remember in a life threating emergency, at any time, say or night, you should dial emergency number (000) for Police, Fire or Ambulance.

STEP 5) Give your Household plenty of Time to Leave Early

Anyone with limited mobility (or who cares for someone with limited mobility) knows extra time is needed to perform certain tasks. In the event of a bushfire, there are several things to consider before leaving the house – such as ticking off your leaving plan duties like packing your emergency kit into the car and any valuable items you might want to take with you. Bushfires can spread extremely quickly, so it’s vital to make sure you give your household, and particularly those with limited mobility, enough time to get ready, leave early and remain safe.

As industry leaders in Wheelchair Access Vehicle (WAV) conversions, we understand that living with a disability or limited mobility can sometimes be challenging. If you’re in need of getting out and about more easily, consider a Wheelchair Access Vehicle (WAV) which we can adapt to suit your specific needs.

Call our friendly team on 1300 660 773, or contact us online for an obligation-free vehicle demonstration and consultation in your home, Australia wide.

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