Preparing for an emergency

Preventing and preparing for emergencies is everyone’s responsibility.

Council has an Emergency Management Plan. Staff are also appointed to the roles of Municipal Emergency Resource Officer (MERO) and Municipal Recovery Manager (MRM). These roles co-ordinate Council’s response and recovery phases during and after an emergency.

Emergency services such as CFA, SES and Victoria Police take an active role in ensuring the safety of the community.

In addition there are a number of government and private service providers and agencies which also play a pivotal role in response and recovery aspects of emergency management, for example:

  • Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • Department of Human Services.

While all of these services work together to protect the community, it is important to understand that the community also plays a vital role in preventing, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies.

Individual and community emergency preparation

Preparing for an emergency is a shared responsibility with everyone playing a role. Whilst Council and emergency services work together to prevent and prepare for emergencies, it is important that the community takes responsibility for their family, pets, business and property.

A major emergency requires significant resources, and as such it is possible that emergency services may not be available to provide direct assistance.  Accordingly if you are prepared for an emergency, you will be less reliant on these services in the short term.

Emergencies can occur at any time and are often unexpected. There are things you can do to reduce the unexpected severely impacting on you and your family. We recommend you consider the following information in developing your own prevention, preparedness, response and recovery plans.

Developing your personal emergency plan

Every household should have an emergency plan. Having a written plan could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Things to consider:

  • Do you live in a bushfire prone or flood prone area? (this will determine what type of plan you will need to develop)
  • Discuss the plan with your family or members of the household. Make sure you consider all situations, for example, when you’re at work, the weekends, when you have visitors, etc
  • Prepare an emergency kit
  • Make sure your home, business or property is adequately insured and the cover is up-to-date (building and contents). Make sure you understand what is covered under certain circumstances
  • Can you stay with family or friends if your home is inaccessible or damaged?
  • Plan what to do if your children are at home alone when an emergency happens
  • If you live alone, ensure a friend or family member knows if you are evacuating in an emergency and where you were planning to go.
  • If you live with others, make sure everyone agrees to your evacuation plan and is aware of their responsibilities such as collecting children from school or turning off utilities etc
  • Plan what you will do with your pets in the event of an emergency
  • Store important documents (birth certificates and wills), photographs and valuables, etc, in a safe place so they will not be destroyed.
  • Do you have a list of emergency contacts ready, including family, friends, doctor and vet?
  • Ensure you know how to turn off your power, gas and water supplies if you need to evacuate
  • Write down your emergency plan and make sure everyone knows what your plan is in the event of an emergency.

It is important to practice your emergency plan. This will reduce the amount of stress and panic you may experience in an emergency and you can make changes before the emergency.

Visit the Red Cross for more information.

Developing your bushfire plan

If you live in a bushfire prone area you should have a bushfire plan.

Things to consider:

  • know the bushfire history in your area
  • decide - will you stay and actively defend or leave early?
  • do you need more than one plan – when you’re at work, the weekend, children at home alone after school etc?
  • what will you do with your pets, animals and/or livestock?
  • develop your bushfire plan with everyone who lives in the house
  • develop and practice your plan before the declared fire danger period

Have a written bushfire plan; it is well documented that in times of high stress, a written bushfire plan can assist in reducing confusion and stress. Keep your written bushfire plan where everyone can find it easily.

Practice your bushfire plan with everyone in your house. This will ensure your plan is realistic and that it suits you and your situation. You don’t want to be in a bushfire situation and you are not physically fit or your circumstances have changed.

For information about developing a bushfire plan, visit the CFA website

You can also visit our page on bushfires.

Developing your flood plan

If you live in a flood prone area, you should have a flood plan.

Things to consider:

  • know the flood history in your area
  • develop your flood plan with everyone who lives in the house
  • what will you do when there is a flood warning?
  • where will you go if you need to evacuate?
  • what will you do if you decide to stay?
  • what will you do on your return?
  • develop an emergency kit
  • sand bags.

Have a written flood plan; it is well documented that in times of high stress, a written flood plan can assist in reducing confusion and stress. Keep your written flood plan where everyone can find it easily.

For more information on developing a flood plan, visit the SES website.

You can also visit our page on floods.

Emergency kit

While help is available during and after an emergency, it is your responsibility to ensure you are well prepared. Remember that in the event of a large-scale emergency, emergency services will be under extreme pressure and may not be able to assist you immediately. One of the things you can do to help yourself and your family, is to prepare an emergency kit.

Recommended items may include:

  • torch (with spare batteries), candles and waterproof matches
  • battery operated radio (with spare batteries)
  • mobile phone, spare battery and charger
  • change of clothing for each family member (wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats, leather gloves, etc)
  • strong outdoor shoes or boots for each family member
  • first aid kit including sunscreen and essential medication and toiletries
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • pet supplies
  • toilet paper and large rubbish bags for your emergency toilet
  • face and dust masks
  • books, playing cards and games
  • credit cards, ATM cards and cash
  • spare house keys and car keys.

Food and water may include:

  • non-perishable food (canned or dried)
  • bottled water (at least 3 litres per person per day for drinking)
  • plan how to get water for washing and cooking (check your hot water service, water tank, pond)
  • a gas barbecue to cook on with spare gas cylinders
  • a can opener and other utensils.

If you have a baby or young children:

  • food, formula and drink
  • change of clothing and nappies
  • toys or favourite activity.

It is recommended you check the items in your emergency kit every year, and replace expired items with fresh items. Keep your emergency kit somewhere easy to locate in case of an emergency. Make sure that other members of your household know where the emergency kit is stored.

If you prefer to keep some of your emergency kit items in the house for everyday use, make sure you know where to find them quickly when an emergency occurs.

Emergency Alert System

Emergency Alert is the national telephone warning system used by emergency services to send voice messages to landlines and text messages to mobile phones within a defined area, about likely or actual emergencies.

In the case of an emergency, you may receive a voice message on your landline or a text message on your mobile phone.

The system is used for a range of emergencies including storm, flood, tsunami, bushfire, storm surge, chemical incident and missing person emergencies.

If you receive an Emergency Alert and want more information, follow the instructions in the message or find your local emergency service on the Emergency Alert Website.

If you’d like to find out more regarding the Emergency Alert System, visit Emergency Alert System

House numbers

In the event of an emergency, emergency vehicles need to be able to locate your property easily and quickly; your house number needs to be clearly visible from the road.

Some guidelines for displaying house numbers include:

  • minimum height for house numbers is 75mm
  • use plain, legible numbers from white or yellow reflective material
  • display the numbers on the front of your letterbox
  • keep bushes and shrubs trimmed around your letterbox
  • if you live in a unit or flat make sure your house number is located on the wall next to your front door.

Don’t wait for an emergency to find out if the numbering on your house, property or business can be clearly seen.

Pets in emergencies

If you have pets or other animals, it is your responsibility to ensure their safety during an emergency. You will need to allow for their welfare in your emergency plan (including your bushfire and flood plans).

Some of the things you will need to think about include:

  • emergency contact numbers (local vet, RSPCA and local animal shelter)
  • appropriate identification (name tags or micro chipping)
  • secure portable carry cage and leads
  • non-perishable food and water
  • secure pets well before the emergency.

These are just some of the things you need to consider. Please remember that pets may not be catered for at emergency relief centres.

Visit the RSPCA or Agriculture Victoria for further information.

Road closures

When developing your personal emergency plan, bush fire or flood plans remember to factor in the possibility of road closures.

During an emergency event, roads can be impacted without warning by falling trees, debris or water.

Formal road closures will be issued when possible, however please take care, drive to the local conditions and be aware that local road conditions can change quickly.

For road closure information, visit Vic Roads VicTraffic or call 13 11 70.

Emergencies and your health

A number of issues could be likely to affect your physical and emotional health as a result of an emergency. This section provides you with links to important information that will assist you if you have experienced a bushfire or a flood.

The Department of Health and Human Services has more information on bushfire health and safety, floods and health and stress during emergencies as does the Better Health Channel.