Helen Haines MP has cautioned people in Indi communities to prepare for what’s expected to be one of North East Victoria’s most challenging bushfire seasons.

The Independent Federal Member for Indi – who represents communities deeply affected by the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 and disastrous fires in 1939, 1943, 1972, 1985, 2003, 2006-07 and 2013 – said the high summer ahead posed particular risks.

“The landscape is very dry following prolonged periods of lower or much lower than average rainfall, as we can all see and sense,” Dr Haines said.

“Victoria on November 21 had its first Code Red day in almost 10 years and this week, leading to Christmas, extreme temperatures are forecast, exacerbating conditions in our environment.

“Bureau of Meteorology data shows the country yesterday (December 17) recorded its hottest average daily temperature of 40.9 Celsius.

“Rain is not expected before February – at the earliest – and the outlook is similar to the worst fire years on record.

“These signs are serious – as we have seen in NSW and Queensland in the past month – and we can’t afford to ignore them in a region like ours with a high fire-risk history.”

Dr Haines encouraged people to stay safe by:

• Downloading the VicEmergency app to mobile telephones or tablets and creating a ‘watch zone’ for your location

• Knowing your ABC emergency radio broadcast frequency

• Preparing and reviewing your bushfire plan and practising it

• Sharing your plan with family, neighbours and close friends

• Checking on family, neighbours and friends who may be at risk and need help duringprolonged, extreme weather and fire danger periods

• Knowing the address of the nearest Neighbourhood Safer Place or ‘place of last resort’ (local councils will list this)

• Listing the Bureau of Meteorology fire weather warning website and CFA website in their web browser favourites, and

• Having a battery operated radio to hand and keeping your mobile telephone charged

“I’m advised that we’re well-resourced in the Hume region,” Dr Haines said.

“But having an active, fire-ready plan will be the most effective way of enabling our skilled firefighters to do their jobs.

Dr Haines also advised having emergency telephone numbers at hand:

• 1800 226 226 – VicEmergency Hotline

• 1800 555 677 – VicEmergency Hotline via the National Relay Service if you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment

• 131 450 – Translating and Interpreting Service if you don’t speak English

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