Horror bushfire season looms

Enormous swathes of Australia are on alert for a horror bushfire season, in the wake of the season’s early start in NSW.

Experts from the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre say large areas of Australia, especially along the east and west coasts, face a higher than average bushfire risk.

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“The above normal forecast is due to abundant grass growth across inland Australia, due to above average rainfall since May 2013,” they say.

“These conditions, coupled with above average  temperatures across the country since January 2013, have resulted  in a build-up of fuel in grasslands. These higher temperatures have also seen forests begin to dry out.”

Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan says the NSW bushfires are a timely reminder that Australians need to prepare their own properties for summer.

“It’s important for everyone in the community to understand what they can do to prepare for disasters. Every effort, no matter how small, can help save lives and secure property,” he says.

“Households and businesses need to start preparing now – make sure your insurance is up to date and look at what you can do to prepare your property.”

Meanwhile, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has made it a little easier for residents to plan for bushfires with the launch of MyFirePlan, a smartphone app designed to improve disaster preparation.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher says the recent weeks have show how devastating bushfires can be and the importance of being prepared.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says the app puts important safety information right at people’s fingertips.

“Anyone who lives near the bush should make a bushfire survival plan, which will help them with important decisions on when to leave, what to take and what to do with animals,” he says.

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