Helpful to involve children in bushfire preparation
Children should be involved in preparing for bushfires, says the CFS. They are also encouraging all schools and education and care services to be bushfire-ready.
Belinda Dunbar, Child and Youth Project Officer at CFS, said talking about bushfires with children and involving them in preparations was helpful.
“Children should have an active role in the preparation for a bushfire,” she said. “While they may find bushfires scary or worrying, research in the area has found that by involving them actively in the planning process it can reduce their fears and concerns.”
She suggested talking about bushfires and other emergencies with children and teaching about fire-danger ratings. Children can learn what fuels a fire and steps people can take before, during and after an event.
To support bushfire education, the CFS offers a free session for staff at schools and education and care services. It includes an introduction to practical bushfire preparedness, bushfire behaviour and how to source information.
“This will give participants a background to bushfires that will assist in making informed decisions for their emergency-management plans,” said Belinda.
“We use a variety of real-life scenarios to identify strengths and weaknesses in emergency planning and procedures.”
When creating a bushfire plan, the CFS suggests early childhood services and schools think through all the complexities they might face.
“Preparing for a bushfire can be daunting when thinking about the quick decision-making and possible relocation or invacuation of many young people that might be needed,” said Belinda. “But having a plan that identifies options will help you cope and adapt in an emergency.
“Some of the best things you can do to be prepared is to make sure all your team and your families know your plans – educating your families on what you will do in such an event will lessen the anxiety associated with it.
“Ensure your staff have defined roles and are involved in the planning process. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities can help the success of your plans and should be practised often as a team.
“Cleaning up and maintaining any grass and vegetation around your facility is an essential task every fire danger season.”
For bushfire education for schools and education and care services, contact SA Country Fire Service on cfs.communityenagementsupport [at] sa.gov.au or (08) 8115 3324.
- Education and care services and schools need to know their plan and be able to put it into action.
- Approved providers of education and care services must ensure a risk assessment is conducted to identify potential emergencies relevant to the service (r. 97 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011).
For more information:
- Bushfire safety fact sheet, Education Standards Board
- Bushfire and your child’s school or preschool, Department for Education
- Bushfire and emergency closures information, Department for Education
- Emergency Planning handbook
- CFS Information Hotline on 1800 362 361
- ABC local radio station or FIVEaa radio station.