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How to prepare for an emergency

Information about what you can do before, during and after an emergency to protect yourself, your family and your animals.

Before an emergency

It is critical that you and your family and friends do what you can to be prepared for potentially deadly emergencies such as floods, fires, storms, blackouts, accidents and heatwaves.

The more time you spend preparing yourself and your family to cope with emergencies, the better off you will be when something happens.

Preparing for emergencies

  • Learn more about emergency services in your neighbourhood such as those who respond to:
  • Identify the risks and possible emergencies that could happen where you live by checking in the City of Whittlesea Municipal Emergency Management Plan.
  • Find out how you can prevent home and bushfires.
  • Talk to your neighbours and see if they are prepared.
  • Think about what you do with your pet if you have one.
  • Make sure you will be able to find out what is happening during an emergency – decide whether you will use radio, TV, text messages, internet, neighbours and/or friends.
  • Get to know your neighbourhood. Join clubs, know your neighbours, read local noticeboards. It’s the best way to know what is happening and it makes you and your community safer.
  • Find out what you need to do after an emergency and where you would get information and help from. If you have to leave your house you may need to go to an Emergency Relief Centre.

During an emergency

  • Turn on your radio, TV or internet to find out what is happening.
    • Emergency broadcasters include ABC 774 and 88.6 Plenty Valley FM
    • There is a new alert system and you may get a text message on your phone.
  • Your mobile phone may now be sent an emergency warning based on its location.  For more information, visit the Emergency Alert website.
  • Make sure you know where your family and pets are.
  • Keep informed and listen to advice from the emergency services.

If you have to leave your home

  • Listen for emergency warnings on radio.
  • Turn off power, gas and water and lock your doors and windows.
  • Take your emergency bag with you.
  • Cooperate with emergency services.

After an emergency

  • Keep listening to the radio or TV to find out what is going on.
  • It may take a while for people to get to you and your house if things need to be fixed or cleaned up.
  • If you need to leave your house you might need to go to an Emergency Relief Centre.

Emergency Relief Centres

In a major emergency, the police might ask you to leave your home, or stop you from returning to your home. You can either go to:

  • family or friends
  • an Emergency Relief Centre

At a Relief Centre, you will find:

  • a safe place to stay until the police say it is safe to go home
  • first-aid if you need it
  • somewhere to shower
  • food and water

You will be able to register with the Red Cross who will let your family know that you are safe.

If you are unable to return home, the Department of Human Services will provide emergency grants of money to help you.

Longer-term recovery

  • If you have lost your home, loved ones or any property due to a natural disaster you will be offered help by the Federal Government, State Government and Council, depending on the scale of the disaster and its impact.
  • Make sure you know where to get the latest information about what assistance is available.
  • Work with your community to look after each other and to plan your recovery.

Pets and livestock in emergencies

Your pets, livestock and farm animals are your responsibility so plan ahead to prepare for their safety and welfare before a natural hazard affects your home or farm. By acting early, you will avoid unnecessary danger and anxiety.

Preparing animals for emergencies

You should prepare for an emergency by:

  • including your animals in household emergency plans
  • properly identifying your pets (e.g. name tags and microchip)
  • ensuring that livestock registers are current and kept in a safe place
  • keeping a list of emergency phone numbers in your emergency plan (e.g. your vet, local animal welfare agency, pet information and advisory services, wildlife ranger, animal rescue service)
  • being aware that some evacuation centres will not accept animals (except Guide Dogs) so plan alternatives
  • checking whether local arrangements cater for the relocation of livestock during emergencies
  • coordinating the relocation of livestock with neighbours, friends or livestock associations as early as possible
  • fitting gates on internal fences to avoid moving stock along public roads
  • marking gates and water locations on a map of your property in case someone has to move stock for you

Moving animals to safety

You should decide in advance whether you will move your pets and other animals to a safer place on high risk days or when a warning is issued. If so, act early to avoid unnecessary risk to you and your animals.

You may wish to leave pets with relatives, friends, animal boarding facilities, or a temporary animal shelter or evacuation centre. Make sure that you supply pets' medical history and vet contact details.

Prepare for different disaster conditions

  • In a bushfire, move animals to a closely grazed or ploughed paddock with drinking water, steel fencing and shade. Poultry can be placed in a temporary pen.
  • In hot conditions, provide more than 1 bowl of water.
  • In case of fire, install overhead sprinklers in aviaries to minimise smoke inhalation, cool the air and reduce the chance of burn injuries.
  • In a flood, move animals to high ground with enough natural feed. Extra feed may be needed for stock stranded for extended periods.
  • In a severe storm (including hail) or a cyclone, place animals under solid cover such as a sturdy barn/shed or covered pen.
  • In extreme circumstances, the best option may be to cut fences so that stock can escape danger and be collected later.
  • In the case of flood, position a heavy chair or crate to allow animals access to higher refuge such as benches or shelves where enough food and water should be left.

Leaving pets behind

The RSPCA advises that animals should only be left behind when it is impossible to move them in advance or to take them with you.

If animals have to be left and are in danger of suffering a painful death, the RSPCA recommends that owners humanely ‘put them down’ where possible.

If you do leave pets behind, leave a note for the emergency services indicating what animals they will encounter in the home (how many, where and how you can be contacted).

Neighbourhood Safe Place

A Neighbourhood Safer Place, also known as a Bushfire Place of Last Resort (NSP-BPLR), is a place of last resort when all other bushfire plans have failed.

Find out more about Neighbourhood Safer Places.


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