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On January 1st a fire started in the Boya Quarry on the edge of Darlington, and came within a couple of kilometres of our new home. Thankfully the swift action of the fire brigade, local volunteers and several dumps from the helicopters quickly brought the blaze under control without causing any loss of life or damage to homes.
After the initial concern subsided, we realised that we needed to give some serious thought to an emergency plan. According to research cited by the Red Cross, 80% of Australians believe being prepared for an emergency is important but only 20% will take action.
Emergencies can affect many aspects of our lives including mental wellbeing, physical health, financial status and our social interactions. If you prepare well, then you can cope better with an emergency and also recover better. Bushfire is our biggest worry at this moment, but of course we could also be affected by another emergency such as a severe storm, long term power outages or flooding.
Flooding is an emergency
As well as doing sterling work helping victims to recover in the wake of all types of global emergencies, did you know that the Red Cross in WA runs free emergency preparedness workshops?
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Here are some of the top tips we picked up at a free Red Cross workshop held in the Perth Hills:
1. Talk to your children
Despite my initial beliefs, evidence suggests that it is best to include children in discussions about preparing for an emergency. Talking to them ahead of a stressful event can help them to stay safe in the event of an incident, and give them a greater sense of control and security.
Talking through your family’s emergency plan can assist children in managing their fears and build their ability to cope in times of adversity. Keep in mind that all children will respond differently according to their age and personality for example, and you know your children best.
2. Get informed
The more you and your children know and understand ahead of an emergency, the better you can prepare. Talk about what sort of events could happen and the warning signs for each. Teach your kids about fire danger ratings. Get clued up ahead of the likely barrage of questions from the kids - your answers and your views will shape your child’s ideas and level of concern.
3. Get connected
Tell children about the emergency services, teachers or neighbours who will be there to help in an emergency. Take advantage of open days or community events to introduce the kids to the local volunteer fire brigade.
4. Teach children how and when to call for help.
This includes how to make a 000 call for older kids. Make a paper list of useful telephone numbers like extended family members or parents’ workplace and give copies to older kids.
5. Get organised
Write down an emergency plan as a family and give kids specific tasks according to their age. The Red Cross provide a free booklet which guides you through creating an emergency “Rediplan”.
6. Review and practice
Review and practice your emergency plan regularly with the whole family.
7. Prepare an emergency kit
This should include a range of survival items like a torch, battery powered radio and first aid kit. Add a list of other key items to gather at the last minute. This could include regular medication and recovery items like passports, photos, mementos or heirlooms.
Ask children to think about what important items they would like to take with them in the event of an emergency - you may assume they want their favourite teddy but they can surprise us!
9. Agree on a safe place to meet
Think about an agree on a safe place that you will meet in the event that you become separated and communication is lost. This could be a close friend or family member’s home away from your immediate local area.
10. Don’t wait to be told to evacuate
Emergency services may be too busy tackling the immediate danger to go door knocking. Use multiple sources of information to stay updated on the evolving situation such as websites, ABC radio and social media, and be ready to act quickly.
The Perth weather is heating up now which brings with it associated bushfire risks - I hope we can all stay safe this summer by being prepared!
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