Bushfire – when is it safe to stay and defend your home?

Green Wattle Creek bushfire moves toward the Southern Highlands township of Yanderra.
When a bushfire threatens, leaving early or staying to defend your home is a decision to consider well in advance.

If you live in an area prone to bushfires, you need to decide whether you will leave early or stay to defend your home when a bushfire threatens.

The most important thing to think about when you are deciding this is the safety of you and your loved ones. Always put your safety first.

Do not stay to defend your home if:

  • You are not physically, mentally and emotionally prepared
  • The Fire Danger Rating is Catastrophic
  • The Fire Danger Level is Extreme – it's only safe to stay and defend your home when you are highly prepared and your home is specially designed to withstand a fire
  • You have not already prepared your property or yourself to offer the best protection
  • There are vulnerable people in your home such as children, elderly or disabled. Your first priority is their safety
  • Your house is not designed to withstand a fire
  • Your home is surrounded by vegetation, or its construction is vulnerable to bushfire threats
  • Conditions are against you. Listen to advice from fire and emergency services – sometimes it's simply not safe to defend properties

Note: Your family may be put at risk of injury or death if you choose to stay and defend your home.

If you choose to protect your home, be sure you have protective clothing that will be effective against floating embers and intense heat. This would include an N95 face mask that will protect you against smoke inhalation.,

Make sure you also have an emergency survival kit that includes a complete first aid kit.

For information about how to treat burns, see our ‘First Aid Treatment for Burns and Scalds’ article.

The NSW RFS has published a web page – ‘Your Bush Fire Survival Plan’ – to help you assess the bushfire risks for your home. This resource includes a ‘Stay and Defend Checklist’ and more information about defending your property.

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