A high fire danger day is a day with a fire danger rating of Extreme or Catastrophic. On these days, the most important thing you should do is activate your Bushfire Survival Plan.

Your Bushfire Survival Plan will determine how you will prepare and react to the possibility of a fire, by either planning to ‘Leave Early’ or ‘Stay and Defend’. Fires can threaten suddenly without warning, and can travel very fast so it's important that you use triggers to warn you of the potential for danger before a fire even starts.

Do your 5 Minute Bushfire Plan

Fire Danger Ratings

Finding out the Fire Danger Rating is the best way to identify if it is a day of high fire danger. Remember, the Fire Danger Rating is not a predictor of how likely a bushfire is to occur, but how dangerous it could be if it did occur. You should not become complacent because there have been days with high Fire Danger Ratings and no bushfires.

Fire Danger Ratings are published between 4:30-5:00 pm daily during the fire season. These ratings are determined in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology.

One of the best ways to identify whether you need to activate your Bushfire Survival Plan early is to find out the Fire Danger Rating for the next day. Don't wait until there is a fire, activate your plan well before a fire starts on high fire danger days.

Fire Danger Ratings

Leave early

Leaving early means leaving before roads become blocked.

You will need to identify what your trigger to leave will be - i.e. the declaration of Total Fire Bans or the forecast high-risk bushfire weather for your area.

On high risk fire days your safest option is to go well before there is any danger of a fire, so that you can leave in a calm and focussed manner.

  • If you intend to relocate to a Bushfire Safer Place you should do so early in the day or the night before a high risk fire days.
  • Do not wait until you can see smoke or flames and try to gauge how bad a fire may be – by that time trees may have fallen over roads, smoke may be too thick to safely drive through or powerlines may have fallen.
  • Consider how long it will take to travel out of the area, remembering that trips which usually only take only a couple of minutes may take much longer.
  • Identify a number of alternative routes in case your chosen route is blocked.
  • If it becomes too difficult or dangerous for you to leave, find a safer area or solid building to shelter in.

Even if you plan to leave early, it is a good idea to also have a Stay and Defend plan in case the situation changes and you are unable to leave.

Stay and Defend

Staying and defending your home during a bushfire is very dangerous. If you are planning to stay, you will need to prepare throughout the year. The better prepared you and your home are, the more likely you are to survive a bushfire.

It is important that you consider the Fire Danger Rating when deciding whether to stay and defend your property. The daily Total Fire Bans and Fire Danger Ratings should define your Bushfire Survival Plan

Physical and emotional preparedness

People panic when a fire approaches and their first thought is to flee. Many more people die in their vehicles attempting to out-run a bushfire than those who stay and defend once the fire has arrived.

It is important that you try to stay calm in a bushfire, avoid making panic-driven decisions, and keep to your Bushfire Survival Plan.

Defending a property from fire is traumatic and both physically and mentally exhausting. Smoke and radiant heat can be hazardous to health, and defending your home can be a very long process. If you intend to stay and defend your property, you will need to be able to physically and emotionally cope with intense stress.

Ideally you will need at least two people to help you defend your property. If you have any doubts about your ability to stay and defend, or the preparedness of your property, you should plan to leave early.

Contingency plan

Even if you choose to stay and defend, you must still have a contingency plan as a part of your Bushfire Survival Plan. A change in household circumstances or a fire starting quickly in the local area may require you to reconsider your Bushfire Survival Plan.

During a bushfire checklist

Stay alert and informed

The most important thing on high fire risk days is to be alert to what is going on around you. Most of your actions will be the same whether you are leaving early or staying and defending. They include:

  • monitoring the radio
  • checking the weather forecast
  • ringing neighbours to share facts and opinions
  • ringing the Information Hotline on 1800 362 361 about what is happening in your area
  • going outside and looking for smoke every 30 minutes
  • performing the actions that will allow you more time as the fire front approaches
  • performing the actions that are part of your local community strategies, for example, checking on a vulnerable neighbour.

Learn more

Preparing your home for bushfires

You can be bushfire ready even if you are planning to leave early or renting your home.

Planning to stay and defend

Staying and defending your home during a bushfire is very dangerous. If you are planning to stay you will need to prepare throughout the year.

Planning to leave early

Planning to leave early needs planning and consideration, you need to understand what the triggers are to leave and know what actions you should take before leaving.