FIRE and State Emergency Service personnel are urging Victorians to be vigilant as they travel in the summer holidays, after a trying year.
Fire Rescue Victoria fire safety deputy commissioner Michelle Young said after the difficulties in 2020, it was understandable people wanted to get away, but it was crucial to check fire danger risks.
“I know Victorians are very keen to holiday across our regions, but no trip is worth the risk of being caught up in a bushfire or grassfire,” she said.
“Already this month, FRV and the CFA have responded to several large and dangerous grassfires that have spread quickly on windy days, including fires on the urban fringe.
“This is why I urge all holidaymakers to be vigilant this summer – not only for areas you are visiting but also areas you are passing through.
“Download the VicEmergency app and set up watch zones for the location you’re visiting, and travelling through, so you will be notified of any fires starting.
“If there are any fires or emergency incidents at your destination or along your planned route, cancel or change your travel plans.”
CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan said while this year’s outlook indicated lower risk of fires the magnitude of last year, grassfires were still a big risk.
“Whether you’re heading for the beach, bush or rivers and lakes, make sure you know what fire district you will be holidaying in – and which ones you will pass through along the way,” he said.
“Grassfires can move at speeds of up to 25km per hour and jump highways, so stay alert and be aware of grassfires when you’re travelling.
“When arriving at your destination, talk to locals and find out where to go if you get caught out by a grass or bushfire and are unable to safely leave the area.
“Throughout your holiday, continue to monitor conditions and leave early on extreme or code red days.”
VICSES chief officer operations Tim Wiebusch said this year’s La Niña weather pattern meant severe storms and floods were much more likely this summer.
“It’s important to set up a watch zone and ensure your notifications for flood and weather are turned on within the VicEmergency app,” he said.
“Never camp under trees or branches and avoid camping on low-lying land near creeks, rivers, and other waterways.
“Stay safe by never driving through floodwater. It can take just 15cm of flowing water to float a car – that’s the height of an average pen.”
• For travel safety tips, visit: cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/staying-safe-when-you-travel.
• Check the Fire Danger Rating by visiting www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/total-fire-bans-and-ratings.
• Download the VicEmergency app for real-time updates about emergencies across Victoria.
• Never travel to areas with an ‘Extreme’ or ‘Code Red’ Fire Danger Rating.
• Never drive through flood water.