Warning definitions (what is a bushfire emergency warning, what is a bushfire watch and act, what is a bushfire advice)
Emergency Warning: You are in danger and you need to take action immediately. You will be impacted by fire. This message will usually be preceded by the Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS).
Watch and Act: A fire is approaching you, conditions are changing; you need to take action now to protect your life and your family.
Advice: A fire has started - there is no immediate danger; general information to keep you up to date with developments.
Recommended actions before, during, and after a bushfire
Making an informed decision
It is difficult to make a single decision, whether you intend to stay and defend your property or leave early, as circumstances can vary. It is important to recognise that in an emergency, unexpected things are likely to occur so you will need to adapt to changing circumstances and have a plan that will work in different situations.
Your plan should alter according to the predicted Fire Danger Rating and is likely to change depending on your circumstances. Your children for example may be at school, your car may not be available or you may have a health issue that could restrict your capability.
You may also decide to have different plans to suit the daily Fire Danger Rating and enact one plan on days where the Fire Danger Rating is predicted to be Severe and a different plan when the Fire Danger Rating is predicted to be Catastrophic.
- Find out more about leaving early
- Find out more about staying and defending
- Find out more about pets and livestock
Stages of a bushfire
During a fire, residents and properties are at risk from several things, depending on the stage of the fire. The ways of mitigating the threats posed at each stage are detailed in fact sheets on Preparing your Property; Preparing Yourself for Bushfires and On the Day of a Bushfire, but the main principles are listed below.
It is vitally important to plan well before the fire arrives as to what action you will take and whether you will leave early. Preparing a Bushfire Survival Plan will assist with this decision making and understand when and which plan to enact. Never wait until the bushfire arrives before preparing both your property and yourself.
Stage one - before the fire arrives:
In the time leading up to the arrival of the fire front, the main threats are ember attack, thick smoke, increasing fire noise and increasing darkness. It will also be hot and frightening. Deal with these threats by:
- ember proofing your home
- preparing a defendable space around your home
- patrolling inside and outside the house, extinguishing any spot fires
- dressing in protective clothing and wearing a protective mask
- preparing yourself psychologically for the ordeal
- sheltering in the house if conditions become too bad.
Stage two - during the fire:
As the fire front passes, properties will be subject to radiant heat, flame contact, ember attack, smoke, loud noise, darkness, and power failure. Radiant heat is the greatest threat to people and can kill well before the fire front arrives. You must seek shelter from it.
Stage three - after the fire front has passed:
Many hours, sometimes days, after the fire front has passed, properties continue to be at risk from ember attack and smouldering fuel. You should extinguish small fires and check roof spaces and other likely places for embers.
- Go outside and extinguish small spot fires and burning embers
- Patrol the property inside and out, including the ceiling space, and extinguish any fires
- Let everyone know that you are okay
- Monitor the radio for updates
- Stay with your home until you are sure the surrounding area is clear of fire.