Before emergencies

Are you prepared?  If an emergency happens, you need to be prepared. It is your responsibility to prepare for an emergency to minimise risk to life and property.

Good preparation gives you, your family and your property the best chance of survival. Emergency services cannot guarantee they will be able to help everyone, so planning ahead is crucial.

Create a plan

During an emergency, there will be many questions to answer and decisions to make. Where are your family photos? Where is your medication? An emergency situation will raise your levels of stress and adrenaline, which could lead to panic, potentially putting you and your family in more danger.

  • Consider the important decisions and write these down before you are faced with an emergency. This will avoid regrets and confusion later.
  • After you have created your plan, make sure the people around you understand the plan and know their role in an emergency. This might even include people outside of your household such as your neighbours and/or local community group.

Take a look at some of the resources and templates below. Choose one that's right for you or use them to create your own plan.

Planning for pets and animals

Do you have pets or other animals? Make sure to plan for them as well. The resources below will help you develop a plan with your animals in mind.

Planning as a farmer

Will emergency services know where to come in the event of a fire?  Have you included a farm map in your fire preparedness plan? Where will you place your livestock during an emergency?

Agriculture Victoria’s Fire Preparedness Toolkit is designed to assist farmers and land managers to prepare their farm for the fire season.

Planning as a business owner

If you are a business owner you may have staff or customers to consider when a bushfire, flood or storm hits. View the information below to get started thinking about protecting your business.

Check your insurance

Recovering from an emergency when you are not insured or underinsured can make a difficult situation even more difficult.

Grants and financial assistance may be available as a result of a declared emergency, but will not be enough to rebuild a home and replace contents and assets.

  • Know your policy coverage
    Understand what your insurance policy covers and review it annually.
  • Guard against underinsuring
    Ensure your policy provides enough coverage to rebuild to a comfortable standard.
  • Be aware of flood coverage
    Many policies don't automatically include flood cover, so check if it's included in yours.
  • Consider additional costs
    Check if your policy covers accommodation, debris removal, or demolition expenses.
  • Understand replacement policies
    Determine if you have a replacement cost policy or an actual cash value policy.
  • Create a home inventory
    Document the contents of your home before emergencies occur. Take photos or video of your property and contents and keep them at a location away from your home or store them online.

Seek further information: Visit the Understand Insurance website for additional guidance.

Preparing your property

It is critical to consider how you will prepare your property ahead of an emergency.

Before the fire season 

A well maintained property throughout the fire season is important to reduce the risk to your personal safety and property, you should: 

  • Mow your lawn
  • Clear leaves from your gutters
  • Remove dried grass leaves and twigs from your garden
  • Prune back branches that are overhanging or near the house 
  • Keep shrubs under trees short

For disposal of grass, leaves, bark and twigs Council has several options that may help you:

  • Use the fortnightly green waste bin collection (Swan Hill only)
  • Take your items to one of our landfills or transfer stations
  • Conduct a burn off outside of the fire season (permits may be required)
  • Hire a contractor to help with the clean up

For more information on preparing for a fire visit the CFA website.

Preparing for floods

Floodwater is a powerful force and there are many unseen dangers. Flooding can happen at any time, with little warning.  Do a few simple things regularly to help protect your home from preventable damage:

  • Clean your gutters, downpipes and drains to remove debris and leaf litter and prevent blockages
  • Check that loose items around your home are safely secured

Fire danger ratings

Fire danger ratings tell you how dangerous a fire could be if one started. They are important because they help you decide what actions to take to protect yourself and others from bushfires and grassfires.

Find out more about Fire Danger Ratings and the Fire Danger Period

Download the Vic Emergency App

VicEmergency is the central place access timely emergency information and warnings on all hazards, including fire, flood, storm, tsunami, earthquake, landslide and more.

Visit the VicEmergency website

You can download the VicEmergency app from the App Store or Google Play.