Now summer is here, many Australians are preparing for the bushfire season, with some areas already affected.
The economic, financial, and psychological effects following a major disaster event are felt for weeks, months and years on.
"On the ground we've seen an increase in frequency and intensity of disasters ranging from drought, bushfires, flooding," said Erin Pelly, Australian Red Cross Emergency Services Recovery Manager.
"We know disasters are incredibly stressful and recovery takes time, and the needs of communities shift over time. We also know being psychologically and physically prepared for emergencies makes a big difference when it comes to the way people respond and recover. That's why we focus on the preparation, response, and recovery - to help build resilience in communities which overall results in less psychological damage and contributes to a better recovery for those who have been impacted."
As the frequency and impact of major disasters and emergencies rise in Australia, Pine O Cleen has partnered with Australian Red Cross to launch The Cleen Up Recovery Report, designed to provide long-term support to impacted communities.
But what about before? Resilience measures can result in less damage, fewer impacts, and a faster recovery for those affected.
Preparedness tips from the Australian Red Cross
- Get or update your insurance. Have appropriate insurance to ensure that you are financially protected against loss of assets and livelihood.
- Store your important documents in a safe place other than your home. Identifying yourself, proving ownership of your home/car and providing details for your insurance cover can become a real headache without the original paperwork or copies of it.
- Plan for your pets/livestock. Consider what your animals need for a week (food and medication) and how you would identify, transport and accommodate them. Have a plan in case you can't make it home.
- If you have a baby and/or young children, consider their specific needs as evacuation centres may not be set up to meet their needs.
- Saving precious items or keepsakes can help with recovery when you lose everything, because it protects the links to the past and brings comfort. Consider how you will transport them if they can be moved easily and if not take photos or make copies.
Get in the know
- Know how to manage your stress. Prioritise your mental wellbeing - people who are mentally strong can cope with the challenges of disasters, plus the health and social issues that can arise from the onset of shock and stress.
- Know the hazards likely to affect you. Understand the hazards and the local history to be able to prepare for possible disaster events.
- Know who you might need to contact - Fire 000, SES (flood and storm) 132 500
- Know where to get information in an emergency. The ABC is the official emergency broadcaster, providing essential up-to-date information, advice from authorities and support available.
- Grow your community. Build a strong community network that you can draw upon in times of need.
- Identify a support network. Have at least three key people you know and trust who you could call in an emergency. Let them know you may call on them to help.
- Agree on three meeting places for your household. One outside your house, another outside your neighbourhood, in case you can't get home, and a third, somewhere you can stay overnight.
Get packing - a checklist
- Food and water
- Warm, waterproof clothing and comfortable shoes
- Sunscreen and sun protection
- Torch and batteries
- Mobile phone
- Device chargers and battery packs
- Battery or wind-up radio
- Medication and prescriptions
- First aid kit
- Personal safety equipment
- Pet essentials
- Baby essentials (wipes, toys, nappies, blankets, a baby sling, medication, formula)
- Activities for children (e.g., cards)
- It's also smart to identify and pack things that will help you re-establish your life if you lose everything. Copies of important documents to help identify yourself and personal items that hold special meaning to you and your loved ones.