How to help others, and look after yourself, during the bushfires

08 January 2020
The bushfire threat is terrible and ongoing. Like all Australians, we are thinking of our loved ones impacted by fire, and all we’ve lost: the people, homes, animals and natural assets. We’re thankful for the emergency services, responders and governments that are slogging their guts out to help them. We know we’ll get through this together.

Here are some ways you can help others — and, importantly, yourself — during bushfires.

1. Donate

Cash donations are the best way to help from afar. (Donations of good create the administrative burden of distribution.) Obviously not everyone can give, but every little bit helps.

Give to Red Cross.

Give to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Give to Wildlife Victoria.

2. Get ready and stay ready for the risk of fire

There are some simple steps you can take to be ready in the event you come under threat from bushfire:

Prepare and practice a bushfire plan — know where you’ll go and how — visit cfa.vic.gov.au for more.
Follow advice from emergency services and leave early on high risk days.
Call Triple Zero in a life-threatening emergency
Know where you’ll get emergency warnings and information, and don’t depend on a single source. Options include:
The VicEmergency website and App.
Emergency broadcasters like ABC Radio and Sky News.
Social media channels.

3. Safely deal with smoke.

Even far from the fires, smoke is affecting cities and towns. On days of heavy smoke haze:

Stay inside if you can, shut doors and windows,
Vulnerable people — infants, the elderly, ill and pregnant women, can purchase P2 or N95 masks.
Keep your asthma or other medication close to hand.
Call Triple Zero in a life-threatening situation.

4. Look after yourself

Whether you’re impacted by fire, smoke or ongoing media coverage, a disaster of this size can affect your mental health. It is alright to prioritise self-care at a time like this. Some strategies you may try:

Take a break from social media and news if it is safe to do so.
Talk to someone — friends, family or a health professional
Try to keep a routine, but give yourself time to feel better. It’s OK to not be OK.