THE latest Country Fire Authority (CFA) study has found half of Victorians living in areas at high risk of bushfire believe the risk to their home is moderate.
In this year’s Bushfire Community Survey – which has been collated annually since 2009/10 – it was revealed that 52 per cent of respondents considered the risk to be moderate, minor or non-existent.
A third of participants also said they would only flee when a fire threatens their town or suburb instead of vacating the morning of or night before an extreme fire danger alert.
CFA acting chief officer Stephanie Rotarangi said Victorians who were underestimating warnings or avoiding leaving their homes were putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk.
“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 newest data from the Season Outlook confirms that Eastern Victoria has experienced two consecutive years of record low rainfall during autumn and winter, causing a build-up of 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.
“People need a plan; exactly what are you going to do for your 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.”
Working with its partner emergency services agencies to educate residents through its community educators, Open Day activities and bushfire safety workshops, CFA hopes to encourage Victorians to learn more about bushfire risk and how best to plan and prepare for it.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
For more information, visit the website at cfa.vic.gov.au/workshops.