Anglicare has urged Tasmanians to be good neighbours – by helping to protect vulnerable people from bushfire danger.
“Living in a community means looking out for each other” said Anglicare CEO Chris Jones. “As we enter the bushfire season, let’s reach out to those around us who might need some extra support”. People particularly vulnerable in a bushfire emergency include children, people with mobility issues, or those who have an intellectual disability.
Peter Middleton from the Tasmanian Fire Service said now is a good time for communities to get ready. “The number one thing all Tasmanians can do is prepare a bushfire plan,” he said. There is step-by-step information about this on the TFS website www.fire.tas.gov.au. You can also contact the TFS on 1800 000 699.
“Make the effort to go and talk to your neighbours. Bushfire preparation is a shared responsibility,” said Peter, who coordinates the TFS Community Development team. “If there are people who are especially vulnerable, check that they have a safety plan in place”.
Peter said leaving is the safest option for vulnerable people who live in an area at high risk of bushfire. Homes most at risk in our state are those with bushland within 100 metres.
“If people have a clear vulnerability our recommendation is that they leave early,” he said. “If the fire danger rating reaches severe (or higher), it’s best that they do not remain in a high risk location – even when there’s no fire. They should have arrangements in place so they can go to the home of a family member, friend or carer”.
The current forecast for the bushfire season (October-April) is for ‘above normal’ fire potential in the South, in the Derwent Valley and in the East along the coastal strip. The remainder of Tasmania is classified as ‘normal’ fire potential. “This means that we’re likely to get a number of bad bushfire weather days,” said Peter. “High temperatures, windy weather coming off the land, and low humidity all mean that if fires occur, it is much harder to fight them”.
Many local neighbourhoods in Tasmania are working hard to be bushfire ready, coordinating clean-up working bees and establishing initiatives such as phone tree networks. “Fires can break out suddenly and there may be no time for official warnings,” said Peter. “Local people working together can share vital information and resources”.
Chris Jones said Anglicare cared about people’s safety. “For example, when older people begin receiving home care support services from us, we help them to identify potential safety risks such as long grass around their house, or smoke alarms that aren’t working. Taking preventative action does save lives”.