Safety & support
Safety is the most important thing immediately after a fire. Dangers to watch for include:
- downed electrical wires that could be live – do not approach.
- new fires in any remaining unburnt areas including in infrastructure (such as a house) for hours or days after a fire.
- unstable or falling trees. Burnt tree trunks can weaken in the hours or days after a fire and may fall at any time.
- hidden holes. Burnt tree roots can create a hole just beneath the surface that may covered with soil and ash and not be visible.
- trees that are burnt on the inside or that are hung up (the trunk is burnt but the tree is still upright and caught on other trees) – these pose a falling risk and professional assistance may be required to clear them.
As a priority, re-establish road access to town if you were cut off during the fire. This may be urgently needed for medical reasons, transporting feed or enabling veterinary access to livestock.
Support, help & advice
You will likely be exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed in the days after the fire. Help can come from governments, friends, family or neighbours; even if you think there are others worse off, try to seek and accept the help you need.
Making decisions in the immediate period after a bushfire can be difficult, but you should try to avoid making hasty judgments. Many jobs will seem urgent but pausing briefly to prioritise can help you make the right choices for your situation.
Talking through decisions with someone else can be very helpful, whether it is an independent consultant, friend, family member or neighbour.
Immediate one-page plan
Once the farm is made safe, discuss your priorities with a trusted person and create a one-page plan for what happens next. Write down:
- What needs to be done immediately?
- What needs to be done today, and what can wait until tomorrow or next week?
- Who can help? What needs to be done by you and what can be done by others? Who can you contact to get that help? Refer to the key contacts listed in your farm fire plan, including council emergency numbers and government veterinary services.