Surviving bushfire season

What you need to know about bushfires in Queensland and how to help our firefighters.

Heartbreaking images of Australians losing everything as fires continue to ravage Australia’s east coast has caused many Queenslanders to consider what they would do if their homes and lives were threatened by bushfire.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said all Queenslanders should be prepared for the threat of natural disasters.

“As we are regularly shown in Queensland, when it comes to extreme weather it’s not a matter of if but when and having a ‘what-if?’ plan could be the difference between staying safe or putting yourself and your family in danger,” Mr Dick said.

What’s my fire risk?

You don’t have to live in the bush to be impacted by bushfire.

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) has developed a postcode-checker so Queenslanders can assess their bushfire risk. The postcode checker shows the potential for a bushfire to take hold, spread and do damage if started in your suburb and is based on local factors such as topography and types of vegetation in the area.

You can find current fires on the Rural Fire Service Bushfire Map.

How to prepare your home

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said it was important to remain diligent, well prepared and have a plan in case a bushfire happened nearby. 

“You can prepare your household now with some simple steps: clearing debris from your roof and gutters, checking pumps, generators and water systems, ensuring adequate access for fire trucks, trimming low branches and relocating flammable items away from your home,” Mr Wassing said.

RFS provides a comprehensive checklist of actions to prepare you property, including clearing debris from gutters, moving flammable items away from your house and ensuring there is adequate access for fire trucks.

How to prepare your family

Mr Dick said having a bushfire survival plan would ensure your family knows what to do and is ready for action at short notice.

“The best time to think about the safety of your family, pets, neighbours, home and business is before an emergency situation reaches you,’ he said.

“Even in urban areas families should be bushfire-ready, and school holidays make for the perfect time to do things like prepare a survival plan and make sure your insurance is up to date.”

You can create a bushfire survival plan online, which includes important contact information, your evacuation plan and a contingency plan.

Mr Wassing said your emergency evacuation plan should include step-by-step instructions for an evacuation.

“Practical steps people can take include identifying the routes they will take if they need to evacuate, where they plan to evacuate to and ensuring their emergency kits are stocked and current,” he said.

“People should be familiar with where to go to stay informed with the latest bushfire warnings and other important information.”

RFS also provides checklists detailing what to do if you decide to evacuate your property and what to do before and during the fire if you decide to stay.

What if I’m away from home?

Mr Wassing said it was important to have a bushfire survival plan while on holidays.

“If you’re planning a trip, please consider the distance from emergency services, the likelihood of heightened bushfire risk at the location you’re visiting, and if you’re travelling to or going through bushfire-affected areas,” he said.

You can stay up to date with the latest on bushfire activity by following QFES on social media, visiting the QFES website and tuning into local radio.

After a fire

Returning home after a fire can be confronting and emotional.

The Australian Red Cross Society has created resources to help people prepare for returning home after a bushfire which includes practical considerations, such taking photos for insurance purposes and ensuring your tetanus booster up to date, as well as emotional consideration including coping with loss and uncertainty about the future.

RACQ Insurance tips for bushfire claims:

  • You are covered for bushfire if you have RACQ home insurance.
  • If you have RACQ Pet Insurance your insured pets are covered for injury or illness resulting from the bushfire.
  • Contact us early – if you’ve evacuated and suspect your home is damaged, or you home is confirmed damaged, we are here to help 24/7.
  • Photos of damage can assist with the claims progress but don’t put yourself in danger.
  • RACQ prioritises the management of bushfire claims, emergency payments and deploys assessors on the ground ASAP.
  • RACQ home insurance provides some coverage for counselling support so get in touch with us for details.

How can I help wildlife affected by fire?

Australia Zoo owner Terri Irwin said simple actions can give animals in bushfire affected areas the best chance at survival. 

“Everyone can help wildlife in their backyards by putting out compost scraps, a shallow container of water and shelter areas this bushfire season,” Ms Irwin said.  

Find out what to do if you come across an injured animal.

How can I help firefighters and bushfire victims?

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has encouraged Queenslanders to donate to registered charities to help people affected by the Queensland bushfires.

“We need to back our communities across a number of regions impacted by severe bushfires with financial assistance and support services,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

You can support Queensland’s Rural Fire Service by donating to ABC Radio’s Queensland Gives appeal.

If you’d prefer to provide items, Givit is running a campaign to help connect Queensland and New South Wales bushfire victims with the specific items they need to get back on their feet. Items currently listed by people impacted by the fires include fencing materials, cattle food, a chicken coop and grocery vouchers.

The RACQ Foundation runs Community Assistance Projects to lend a much needed helping hand to communities doing it tough. Community groups impacted by bushfire can apply for funding.