Severe weather events
How to prepare, act and survive a severe weather event in your neighbourhood.
Our native bushland is one of the great things about living in Ku-ring-gai, but with that comes the risk of bushfire.
A range of factors combine to produce different levels of risk for each property and each person. It is your responsibility to prepare you and your home.
To report a fire emergency call Triple Zero (000). Report any unsafe or suspicious fire activity to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Explore the information below to prepare for extreme weather events in your area.
Know your risk
Climate Wise Communities is an award-winning initiative from Ku-ring-gai Council that builds community preparedness to extreme weather events such as bushfire, storm, drought and heatwave. By entering your address and a few key details about your home, you will receive a tailor-made checklist.
Start the Climate Wise Communities Ready Check, 5 steps to preparing your home and neighbourhood.
The first step is understanding your bushfire risk:
- Proximity to bushland – homes within 100m of vegetation can be affected by radiant heat from a bush fire but the majority of homes that are destroyed are lost to ember attack, many kilometres away from the fire.
- Vegetation type – different plant communities provide different types of bush fire fuel. An abundance of fine fuel (twigs, leaves), ribbon-like bark or plant species with small, hard leaves can increase potential fire intensity and ember attack.
- Terrain – is your home steep or upslope/downslope from vegetation? Fire will travel faster uphill and is more intense and dangerous. The aspect of a slope typically affects how wet or dry the bush fire fuel may be, with N/W slopes generally drier than E/S. Terrain can also influence local wind patterns and push fire in unexpected directions.
- Building construction and maintenance – what type of material is your home built from? What is the condition of the building/s and landscaping? No homes are built to withstand the impact of a bush fire under catastrophic fire danger conditions but there are things you can do to reduce your risk.
- Escape routes – if you need to evacuate, which way will you go? What if one or more roads are blocked? Think ahead.
Council’s Firewise kits contain lots of useful information to help you prepare for a bushfire.
Maintaining your property (pdf. 995KB)
Preparing for bushfire (pdf. 1009KB)
Pre-Summer Bushfire Checklist (pdf. 16KB)
Emergency Contacts List (pdf. 301KB)
Bushfire survival plan
Developing a plan can help you understand your risk, steps to prepare your property and what to do during a fire. Sit down and talk about it with your family so everyone knows what to do.
The Bush Fire Survival Plan prepared by the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is a good place to start.
You can also complete a plan and print/share it with the My Fire Plan app.
It is a good idea to make copies of important documents and store them in a secure place away from your home. These include:
- Birth / marriage certificate.
- Drivers licence.
- Medicare card.
- Bank account details.
- Insurance details and policy numbers.
- Medical records.
Preparing your home
On private land, it is the responsibility of landowners to manage bushfire risk. Due to the high risk of ember attack during a bush fire, preparing your home should focus on minimising the chance of embers becoming lodged anywhere. Cost-effective ways to do this include:
- Regularly clearing fallen leaves and twigs.
- Installing non-combustible gutter guards.
- Attaching draught excluders to external doors and sealing gaps around windows, eaves and weep holes.
- Installing fire-rated safety shutters or metal mesh screens on windows.
The NSW Rural Fire Service offers the following support:
Consider creating a defendable space or asset protection zone (APZ) on your property between buildings and the bush. In most cases you will need permission from Council to clear native vegetation or to remove/prune trees.
10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) developed the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice allow landowners in certain areas to undertake clearing on their own land around residential accommodation and high risk facilities to reduce the risk of bushfire. Within these areas, the 10/50 Code overrides Council’s DCP (subject to compliance with the 10/50 Code of Practice) however the exemption does not apply to some properties that are mapped within a 10/50 area.
Please note that some trees/vegetation are still protected & require a Council permit regardless of the 10/50 vegetation Code of Practice including properties in a Heritage Conservation Area or on a Heritage Item, or where the tree or vegetation includes threatened species or forms part of an Ecological Endangered Community under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. In these cases, a Tree Application Form is required to be lodged to apply for Council consent to undertake Tree Work.
Check the NSW Rural Fire Service website online tool to determine eligibility
For further information refer to the RFS 10/50 Frequently Asked Questions
Council offers a range of Community Rebates to help Ku-ring-gai residents make energy and water saving improvements to their homes, helping to build resilience to bushfire. Remember to consult with Council and a qualified bushfire consultant to meet the necessary construction standards if your home is in a bushfire prone area.
Keep up to date with weather warnings and total fire ban advice for your area on TV news, radio 702 AM and via the NSW RFS website and social media pages. Knowing and responding to bushfire alert levels will help you make informed decisions.
You may receive an emergency warning on your phone but don't rely on a warning or evacuation messages as some fires start and spread very quickly.
Fires Near Me
The NSW RFS Fires Near Me app provides current bush fire information by location. The icons on the map also advise of the current alert level status of a fire and total fire bans.
Download the Fires Near Me app:
For iPhone and iPad
Fire Danger Ratings
Fire Danger Ratings are based on predicted weather conditions and recent rainfall and are provided daily by the NSW Rural Fire Service to give an indication of the potential consequences of a bushfire, if one were to start. Fire Danger Ratings should be used as a trigger for action in your Bush Fire Survival Plan.
Check the fire danger rating for your area.
Leave early or stay and defend
Decide what your personal triggers will be:
- On high fire danger days arrange to go out for the day.
- Only stay if your house is built to bushfire standards and is well prepared. You should be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to defend your home.
- Communicate your intentions and actions with your family, neighbours and friends before the fire.
- Create an emergency survival kit / grab box before summer and a list with essential items.
- Check your child's school bushfire plan and make any childcare arrangements with friends and family.
- Make prior arrangements for your pets.
- Do not rely on a fire truck being available to protect your house or to be told when to go.
- Enact your bush fire survival plan – you should also have a contingency plan.
- Plan to be self-sufficient.
Leave early if:
- You have vulnerable people in your home eg. children, elderly, less-mobile.
- Your house is not prepared.
Neighbourhood safer places
Neighbourhood Safer Places are places of last resort. They are open spaces or buildings that may provide protection from the immediate, life-threatening effects of bushfire, however, they are not evacuation centres and there is no guarantee that help will be available at these places.
When a fire threatens, the safest option is to leave your home as soon as possible. If you are prepared to stay and defend your home, keep in mind that:
- You may lose water pressure and electricity.
- You may not be able to make phone calls.
- The conditions will be hot, dark, windy and noisy.
As the fire front approaches, you should:
- Check websites or listen to the radio (ABC 702 AM or Triple H 100.1 FM).
- Dress in protective clothing (wool or cotton) and get equipment ready.
- Plug downpipes and fill gutters with water.
- Dampen all sides of your house exposed to the fire.
- Fill baths, sinks and containers/buckets with water to tackle any spot fires.
- Move inside your house with your hose as the fire front approaches. Your house is the best shelter.
- Don’t leave home at the last minute – this is when lives are lost.
- When the fire hits, check all rooms for spot fires including the roof.
- Move into the coolest part of your house near a door that faces away from the approaching fire.
- If your house catches fire, try to extinguish it. If you can’t, move to burnt ground or a safe spot away from the fire.
- After the fire, go outside and put out any spot fires.
You may receive an emergency warning message. This is the highest level of alert and indicates that you may be in danger. Often accompanied by a statement to Shelter in Place, this means you should seek the safest shelter inside – this may be your home or another building that may provide you with some protection from radiant heat. At this stage it will be too late to leave.
Learn more about the new law that determines the removal of trees from Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Areas.