Half of Victorians living in areas at high risk of bushfire think the risk to their home minimal, a CFA survey has revealed.
CFA’s Bushfire Community Survey, undertaken annually since 2009-10, showed that 52 per cent of this year’s respondents considered the risk moderate, minor or non-existent.
A third said they would only leave when a fire threatens their town or suburb rather than the morning of or night before a day of extreme fire danger.
CFA acting chief officer Stephanie Rotarangi said Victorians who were underestimating the risk or who left it too late to leave, were risking the safety of themselves and their families.
“It’s important to get your head around what the real risk is to you and your friends and family, how to minimise it and what to do when there is a bushfire emergency,” she said.
The most recent seasonal outlook shows that October rainfall was generally below to very much below average across Victoria.
Eastern Victoria has now experienced two consecutive years of record low rainfall during autumn and winter, which means a build-up of fine fuels, fuel hazards and flammability in forests.
“If rainfall trends continue, this season will be in line with Victoria’s driest seasons increasing the risk of bushfire,” Ms Rotarangi said.
“It may not impact you or your family directly, but what if it does?”
“People need a plan; exactly what are you going to do for you family, for your kids, your partner or parents, your loved ones, pets, other animals if a fire occurs and a fire truck may not be able to get there? Start having the conversations now.”
CFA works with its partner emergency services agencies and on the ground with residents through its community educators. Open Day activities and bushfire safety workshops encourage Victorians to learn more about bushfire risk and what they need to do to plan and prepare for it.
“We are ready to do the best we can to keep you safe this bushfire season, but equally it’s about the community being ready,” Ms Rotarangi said.
“Members of the community who live and travel to high-risk bushfire areas along with visitors to Victoria need to inform themselves of how they will keep safe in a fire.
“We ask that they understand the risk to them, how the warnings system works and what they need to do on high-risk bushfire days in the areas they live and work in and travel to.”
CFA’s survey showed that attending a CFA bushfire planning workshop was the CFA activity that most effectively resulted in participants gaining an improved understanding of bushfire risk.
It made people take action to plan and prepare for bushfire, and to feel more confident.
For more information, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/workshops