Protecting your family and property this bushfire season

bushfires australia 2019-2020 black summer

RACV Staff

Posted December 09, 2021

Be prepared this bushfire season by knowing what to do in the event of an emergency.

With the summer season upon us, Victorians are looking forward to spending times with loved ones during what will hopefully be a peaceful summer. It is also a time to remain vigilant when it comes to bushfire season and keeping fire at the front of mind this summer. 

Summer and autumn are the most prominent times for bushfires in Victoria, fuelled by high temperatures, low humidity, high wind speeds, and dry vegetation.

You do not have to live right near the bush to be at risk, so it’s important to heed all warnings and updates from relevant authorities. 

It is important that both residents and holidaymakers regularly check sources like the CFA website if travelling to a high-risk fire zone and know the fire ratings and warnings for the area.

The tragedy of the 2019-2020 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires is still at the forefront of many Victorians’ minds. The CFA says preparation is the key to reducing the risk of fires over summer. 

Living With Fire - Kate & Phil

How to plan for bushfire season

Those who live or will be visiting bushfire-prone areas and communities need to ensure they stay vigilant when it comes to bushfire preparation. Here’s what you need to know:

Stay alert

Monitor the bushfire alert levels and Fire Danger Ratings as well as always following the advice and direction of emergency services, including: 

It is advised that those who will be in bushfire-prone areas also download the VicEmergency app on their smartphones and save the number with the VicEmergency Hotline: 1800 226 226.

If you are in a life-threatening situation, call 000 immediately. 

Have a Bushfire Survival Plan

Plan on how and where to evacuate in the event you need to leave with a Bushfire Survival Plan. This means, as well as always keeping alert of bushfire warnings in your area, becoming familiar with the terminology around severe, extreme, and code red days, and planning accordingly.

Consider drills with your family, and ensure any guests know proper protocols, as well as knowing how to prepare for severe weather in Victoria. Things to consider when making a Bushfire Survival Plan include:

  • How you will stay updated with warnings and updates
  • When you will leave
  • Where you will go
  • How you will get there
  • What you will have in your emergency kit of essentials, sentimental items and important documents packed up and ready to go
  • What you will do with any pets or livestock
  • Who needs to be informed and checked on
  • How you will stay updated with the news
woman on the phone while holding baby

Make sure to stay informed, keep in touch with relevant parties, and check in on others in an extreme bushfire situation. Image: Getty.


Protect your home and car in preparation

Make sure you regularly maintain the area around your home and yard to ensure it is free of excess vegetation and debris – this includes gutters and pipes. 

Also look to seal gaps in doors and windows to the best of your ability, and ensure flammable goods such as woodpiles are removed, or stored far from the home. 

As well as ensuring your motor vehicle is adequately covered, if you can, look to park it under a sheltered covering and that your vehicle has had a routine safety check, including:  

  • Having a mechanic check that your vehicle is in good working order and free from potential defects
  • Make sure your vehicle battery is in good condition, as high temperatures can affect it
  • Checking that all tyres (as well as the spare tyre) have sufficient tread and are correctly inflated
  • Fuelling up the vehicle 
  • Stocking up the vehicle with emergency supplies like water and pure wool blankets

Make sure your home and motor vehicles are insured

Preparing for bushfire season also includes making sure your home and motor insurance is current and sufficient. Take the time to make sure you are not underinsured, so that your insurance is sufficient if you need to make a claim.