Community Recovery

Below is a link to information issued after the fires around Uki in 2019.

Community Recovery Information

Information sheet on replacement of used water by the RFS after a bush fire.

Fire Fighting and Water Replacement

Property Preparation

compiled by Dr. James Alexander


* The safest place to be is nowhere near a fire, so the RFS will always suggest this.

* Many homes are not defendable, due to their location, the amount of  fuel around them, the terrain, lack of water supply or pressure, lack of  enough people to put out embers.

* Most houses burn down from ember attacks, not fire fronts.

* Ember attacks can occur up to a couple of hours before a fire-front hits, and after the front has passed.

* Houses don’t just explode in the face of intense radiant heat – solid  objects (like houses), do offer protection from radiant heat.

* Most fire fronts pass on average within around 7 minutes, but it can take up to 20 minutes.

* Windows can break during a fire front, so embers can then enter the  house and cause an internal fire.  Have visible access to roof cavities  in case embers get up there.

* It is a mistake to clear all trees  away from around a house- as they can offer a screen of protection from  embers, and can maintain a higher level of humidity around the house.

* Tree branches hanging over a house roof are dangerous and should be removed.

* Native species like eucalypts have a very high oil content, while  introduced species (other than conifers) usually have around 10% of the  oil content of native trees. It is safer to have low oil content trees  near your home.

* Trees with rough bark will often create the most dangerous embers when burning – these are not good to have near your home.

* Most deaths in fires are from people trying to flee a fire front  (best to not try due to the speed of fires, lack of visibility,  obstructed roads), or not seeking adequate protection in a house or not  doing it safely.

* Leaf blowers can be just as effective as water  in putting out grass or spot fires, and in eliminating ground fuel from  the house surrounds or containment lines. Don’t use leaf blowers to  clear gutters as this can just force fuel up under your roof.

*  Embers can attach to cobwebs on the outside of the house, under veranda, roofs – or anywhere;  and these embers, held in place by cobwebs, can  then acts as wicks for fire.

* It is possible to defend your home  against both ember attacks and fire fronts, but in both cases you need  to have an adequate water supply with powerful pressure soaking all  aspects of your house. You need to eliminate or radically reduce fuels  outside your home and on verandas. Your plan needs to include multiple  sources of water (both hoses and buckets) with the means of putting out  spot fires, e.g mops, wet towels, hessian sacks etc.

* Fire  travels much faster uphill than downhill, due to the fuel being above  the flames.  If being approached from below by an uphill fire, you will  have less warning and time to respond.

* Planning is essential –  planning to prevent your home being vulnerable;  planning what to do in  case of an ember attack; planning an exit to a safe place if defence has  failed, e.g to a shelter, behind a solid wall, or to burnt/clear  ground.

* Dress in wool and cotton clothes, so that no skin (or  hair) is exposed. Wear heavy duty boots, gloves, face protection, wet  towel around your neck;  breathing protection and goggles.

Anxiety and Children

Talking to children about bushfire risk

  • Bushfires are a common feature of Australia’s landscape.  Messages regarding bushfire risk and preparation are increasingly  accessible from social media, television, radio, fire danger rating  signs, and general conversation.
  • Children can be affected by information regarding bushfire risk and they may become concerned about issues of safety.
  • Many children are inherently resilient and will benefit from being spoken to about bushfire risk and preparation.
  • Talking to children openly in a way that suits their age, while  also involving them in decisions and actions regarding bushfire  preparation, will help them to feel emotionally secure and to be more  confident during the bushfire season.

On this page:

  1. Concerns about talking to children about bushfire risk
  2. Children’s reactions to the risk of bushfire
  3. Talking to children about bushfire risk
  4. Other ways to help children cope with bushfire risk
  5. When to seek professional help in talking to children about bushfire risk
  6. Where to get help

The bushfire season can be stressful for those living in at-risk  communities. Bushfires are occurring with increasing frequency and  messages regarding the importance of bushfire preparation are a constant  reminder of the ongoing risk. It is important for adults to remain  aware and alert throughout bushfire season.

But what about children? How can adults talk to children about  bushfire risk and preparation without compromising their sense of safety  and security?

This fact sheet provides suggestions about how to talk to children about bushfire risk.

Concerns about talking to children about bushfire risk

It is common for parents and carers to find talking to their children  about bushfire risk difficult because they are not sure what to say.  Typical questions include:

  • Should the dangers of bushfires be acknowledged?
  • Should we talk about the possibility of losing our home or pets?
  • My child heard that some people were recently hurt in a bushfire. Should I explain that this can happen?
  • We drive past the fire danger rating sign each day on the way to  and from school and sometimes my children ask ‘what colour is it  today’? How do I explain this without scaring them?
  • Should I tell my child that bushfires cause me concern as well?

Given such questions and concerns, the section below provides suggestions about how to talk to children about bushfire risk.

Children’s reactions to the risk of bushfire

While some children will be affected negatively by exposure to  information about bushfire risk, this is not the case for all children.  It is important to remember that many children are resilient and have a  strong natural ability to adapt to challenging events.

However, signs that a child has been negatively affected by information about bushfire risk might include:

  • becoming more clingy towards a parent or carer – for example  wanting to be held more than usual, wanting to be with parents or  carers, asking about fire, seeking reassurance
  • changes to sleeping or eating patterns, or both
  • the emergence of new physical complaints – such as stomach ache or headache
  • changes in mood – such as being more easily irritable, or shutting down
  • appearing on edge and frightened – for example, being more easily startled, developing new fears or having nightmares.

If you (or one of your child’s carers) notice these or other changes  then it is important to ask the child what they are worried about. Talk  to them in a way that is open and appropriate to their age. Listen to  their questions and fears and show them that you understand.

Talking to children about bushfire risk

It is important that children are taught to respect, understand and  manage dangers in their lives, including bushfire risk. We do this when  we educate them about the dangers of traffic, snakes and strangers, and  bushfire risk can be treated in the same way.

Showing children how to protect themselves can be made a part of  their normal everyday lives, and does not usually result in fears. If  adults show confidence that children can be protected from these dangers  by plans and actions, children will feel confident too.

Below are seven guiding principles to use when talking to children about bushfire risk:

  1. Listen carefully to what they say. Children  will often talk about what they are thinking or how they are feeling (‘I  think something bad is going to happen’, ‘I am feeling scared’) without  necessarily connecting their feelings to a specific event. Listen  carefully to the child’s words to get an understanding of what is going  on in their mind.
  2. Ask questions. If you notice changes in a  child’s behaviour and you think this might be a reaction to bushfire  risk, ask them to describe what they are thinking or feeling. And if a  child asks a specific question (‘The sign is red today, that’s bad isn’t  it?’), answer their question, being reassuring but truthful. (Explain  to them that red means there is a risk of fire, but also help them  understand what you are doing to make sure everyone is safe.) Try to  find out what made them ask their question. This will help to identify  the source of concern, which may be different to their question.
  3. Use age-relevant language. Use language that is easy for children to understand.
  4. Identify unhelpful thoughts and feelings. When  talking to children about bushfire risk, help them to recognise  unhelpful thoughts and feelings and then teach them to use more helpful  alternatives. For example, instead of thinking ‘I think something bad is  going to happen’ you could encourage your child to think, ‘Because it  is going to be a hot day I am feeling a little scared, but mum and dad  have a plan to help us stay safe.’ Tell them what that plan is. For  example ‘The whole family is going to go and stay with grandma and  grandpa.’
  5. Remain positive and reassuring. It is important  that adults use positive and reassuring language when around children;  explain that a plan has been made to keep everyone safe and show them  how it will work. If they talk about bad things that have happened in  the past (such as Black Saturday) explain that you have learned from  that and will be prepared.
  6. Build resilience. Help children to grow in  self-confidence by talking to them about the various bushfire  preparation steps taken to ensure their safety.
  7. Manage your own reactions. Try to manage your  own stress reactions and to model good coping strategies to children.  (Relaxation techniques such as calm breathing – three seconds in through  the nose and three seconds out through the mouth – can help, and having  a bushfire plan in place will help to minimise stress because you are  prepared, and know what to do.)

By using these principles adults can safely talk to children about  the risks and dangers of bushfires. Talking to children about bushfire  risk will reduce the likelihood of distress during summer and will also  help children to build coping skills.

Other ways to help children cope with bushfire risk

In addition to talking to children about bushfire risk, parents and carers can also help children in the following ways:

  • Teach stress management techniques: Introduce them to stress or  anxiety management techniques such as calm breathing, or divert  attention away from emotionally challenging ideas by playing or focusing  on something else. Being close to someone who makes them feel safe can  also help to reduce a child’s stress.
  • Involve children in physical preparations: Include children in  preparing a bushfire plan. Give them specific, manageable,  age-appropriate tasks, and include them when rehearsing the plan. By  doing this children will learn that the decisions and actions are not  only being made for them but with them.
  • Normalise the threat of fire as one of the hazards of living in  Victoria: ‘We know about bushfires and have learned a lot.’ ‘We have  plans to keep ourselves and our pets safe.’

When to seek professional help in talking to children about bushfire risk

You might want to seek professional advice if:

  • your child is displaying any worrying signs that they have been  negatively affected by information about bushfire risk (listed earlier  in this fact sheet) and these reactions do not subside after you have  talked to them
  • you have concerns about whether your child is coping (or perhaps  if another person who cares for your child, such as a school or  kindergarten teacher, expresses concern)
  • you don’t understand your child’s reaction to bushfire risk
  • you feel that you are not coping.

Where to get help

Anxiety and Children, Dirt Girl

Videos by Dirt Girl – approx. 20 and 10 minutes.

How to talk to your kids about an emergency ❤️????❤️????❤️

How to talk to your kids about an emergency ❤️????❤️????❤️ABC Rural1 Million WomenAustralian Red CrossABC AustraliaCIFAL NewcastleCosta Georgiadis OfficialThe Climate CouncilNSW Rural Fire ServiceNSW RFS – Northern Rivers ZoneKinderling Kids RadioABC NewsABC North Coast ABC Mid North Coast ABC Central Coast ABC Central WestABC Radio Australia ABC Gold CoastKeep Australia BeautifulPlanet ArkKidspotGuardian AustraliaHuffington Post

Posted by dirtgirlworld on Sunday, November 10, 2019

How to talk to your kids about an emergency ❤️????❤️????❤️ABC Rural1 Million WomenAustralian Red CrossThe Climate Council NSW Rural Fire ServiceNSW RFS – Northern Rivers ZoneKinderling Kids RadioABC NewsABC North CoastABC Radio AustraliaInternational Composting Awareness Week AustraliaKidspotGuardian AustraliaHuffington Post Australia

Posted by dirtgirlworld on Sunday, November 10, 2019

We are living in a fire zone and have been on alert for months.  Tomorrow is a day we need to be prepared for. If you are living in a  fire zone too, I have written your kids a special letter.

Hi it’s dirtgirl here. 

 In dirtgirlworld today, like in so many places around Australia we are doing things to prepare for bushfire.
We have a drought in dirtgirlworld so it’s very very dry and hot here. Is it like that at your place too?
 I thought I’d share with you some ideas to keep us safe and calm if we are faced with a bushfire emergency.

 Living in the bush, Scrapboy, Costa the garden gnome and I have a very thorough fire plan to protect dirtgirlworld.

 Our gutters are cleared, we have raked and removed all the leaves  around dirtgirlworld, we have packed away all the garden tools and moved  the firewood and compost and mulch away from our houses.
We also  have a plan that we will follow to protect ourselves and our animal  friends.We know that the most important thing is being safe

When  there is an emergency, so much can happen at once and it can be scary. A  Bushfire is really noisy, it smells strongly of smoke , the world feels  very very hot and sometimes it can get very dark. Often there are  sparks and embers.

 Not being near a bushfire is the best idea but sometimes we are surprised by bushfire.
If that happens here’s some of my top tips for what to do in a bushfire emergency.
When it is an emergency… pop on your emergency goggles! and switch them  on! They aren’t real goggles …they are pretend …but they help me focus  on what to do to stay safe.

Remember who the emergency captain  is….that’s the  person in your family who is giving  the emergency   instructions . Sometimes it is more than one person. Look at them.   Listen to them  and act as calmly and as quickly as you can.

 We have chosen scrapboy as our fire captain this time. He knows our fire plan and I trust him.

 It’s good to be prepared.

 Fill your water bottle with water.

 Choose some snacks and  fruit 

 pick some fun stuff to play with later

 your fav teddy or small toy

 some clean undies and pjs and some clothes for tomorrow

 and a card with your contact details on it.

 Pop them all in a back pack

 Have a practice wearing it and crawling down low …or walking to the front of the house ….or running with it on.

 Your emergency goggles give you an energy boost to carry your backpack on your own.
If you have to evacuate your house…evacuate is an  emergency word for  quickly leaving your house or school….it’s time to stay calm and follow  instructions.

 It’s all about staying safe.

To keep calm, I talk to myself …I say

 ‘I can cope, we’ve got a plan, we know what to do, it’s just one step at a time’.

And I keep saying that to myself , it helps me to be calm to know we have a plan…I can say it as many times as I like.
However, I make sure I stop talking to myself to listen to my family fire captain and follow instructions.
And the other thing I do is that I slow myself down…I try and take slow breathes.

Want to give it a try?

if we have to evacuate, I make sure I have my own back pack, and we follow our plan to get to safety.

Being safe is the most important thing.

 Our things can be replaced, we can get new things,  being safe is what we need to remember.
I hope that none of you have to use any of these top tips but I am happier knowing we have had this chat.

Scrapboy, Costa the garden gnome and I, are sending you all our love as well as well as our top tips.

Be safe!

love from dirtgirl


I’ve also filmed two videos today for families today – links above.