Residents prepare their properties for the upcoming fire season.

MITCHELL Shire residents are being urged to prepare their properties and survival plans for fire season, with particular emphasis on the shire’s label as a high bushfire and grassfire risk area.

Above average rainfall has been predicted for spring and summer, causing unprecedented grass growth and an increased risk of bushfires.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said it was important for residents to take the necessary steps to prepare for a bushfire.

“Preparing early is the key. Now is the time to identify your fire risk, clean up your property and make a survival plan that includes what you will do if your plan fails,” she said.

“Wherever you live in the shire, you need to prepare for fire. Residential developments that back onto bush or grassland are still at risk and even urban areas face some risk.”

Some measures residents can take are removing leaves, twigs and loose bark from around their homes, cutting back overhanging tree branches, keeping grass short and preparing emergency kits for the possibility of urgent evacuation.

Victorians are also encouraged to download the VicEmergency app for updates on changing fire conditions.

Mitchell Shire Council will be beginning their annual roadside slashing program and fire prevention property inspections, as well as preparing through their parks and open space maintenance program.

For more information on property preparation, visit www.mitchellshire.vic.gov.au/fire-ready or www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare.

Tips for fire preparedness

Prune tree branches so they are not overhanging the roof or touching walls.

Replace mulch near the house with less flammable alternatives like pebbles.

Keep grass shorter than 10cm. Regularly remove leaves and twigs from around the house.

Don’t have large shrubs in front of windows or glass doors.

Before leaving early, make sure you remove all flammable items from around your home – including the doormat!

Check that your home and contents insurance is current and includes a level of cover in line with current building standards and regulations.

Keeping burn-offs safe and legal:Check fire restrictions with your local council, and register your burn at firepermits.vic.gov.au or by calling 1800 668 511.

Check and monitor weather conditions – particularly wind – on the day of your burn and the few days after it as fires can flare up several days after a burn-off in windy conditions.

To avoid unnecessary calls to emergency services, notify your neighbours beforehand.

Leave a three-metre fire break, free from flammable materials around the burn.

Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading and to extinguish it.

Never leave a burn-off unattended – stay for its entire duration.

If your burn-off gets out of control, call triple zero immediately.

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