SPARE a thought this holiday season for the selfless deeds and dedication of emergency services personnel and volunteers who have toiled around the clock while the rest of us relax and spend time with our loved ones.

Victoria is home to some of the largest volunteer based organisations in the world and it’s hard not to notice the presence of the State Emergency Service, Country Fire Authority, Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance, especially in smaller regional and rural communities where giving back is a way of life, and a way to unite the community.

When people who are part of these organisations get busy, it’s usually in circumstances none of us would wish for, and these situations are compounded by the fact this is the traditional holiday season, a time best spent relaxing, enjoying a break and spending time with those we love most.

Add to this list those organisations such as LifeLine, Meals on Wheels and the many groups and programs offering support to people who sometimes just need someone to talk to, and a picture emerges of many helping hands helping others.

As our region bunkers down for what is expected to be a day of extreme heat and extreme fire danger on Saturday, we should all do what we can to prepare ourselves, our families and our pets for the potentially torrid conditions expected.

This is not to sound alarmist – but advice from government and other informed agencies cannot be ignored. We all need to take heed.

If nothing else, doing what we can in advance is one way of acknowledging and appreciating the volunteers and others who give of their own time and who are prepared to put themselves at risk so that we all remain safe and protected.

The forecast maximum temperature on Saturday is expected to be in the low 40s, accompanied by searing northerly winds and a late afternoon cool change.

While that change will be welcome, it also brings with it an added danger, especially if there are any outbreaks of fire during the day.

In the nine years since the catastrophic events of Black Saturday, our state has made great progress around planning and preparing for days of extreme fire danger, as well as in communicating to the broader community what people can do to better prepare themselves.

There will never be a time to ignore those important messages or to put off doing what any of us can to reduce the risk to our families, and to reduce the likelihood that we will need to call for help should the need arise.