The Australian Financial Review has a good article describing the role played by social media in getting the word out about fire warnings during the potentially catastrophic confluence of weather we had on Tuesday.
As discussed in my post on the the NSW Bushfires and the Fires Near Me app, agencies like the NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW Police, backed up by media like the ABC have used Twitter very effectively to get the word out. The RFS’ Fires Near Me NSW app served this purpose well, as did their website and the bulk SMS sent out to people in the areas declared to have a catastrophic fire risk.
So far, this situation has been dealt with very effectively by the agencies concerned, and I hope people will continue to use the tools and heed the warnings passed on.
Tomorrow is going to be a very hot day in NSW, with temperatures of 43C predicted right across the Sydney metro area. Coupled with predictions of extremely strong winds (60-80kph), government officials are warning of catastrophic bushfire conditions, particularly in areas like the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands.
Apparently this combination of hot weather and winds are leading to the NSW Rural Fire Service predicting a high potential for severe, extreme and or even catastrophic bushfires across the state. The following tweet from the RFS shows the current thnking:
Statewide Total Fire Ban declared for tomorrow. Catastrophic Fire Danger forecast for Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges.
First things first, every person who lives in or near a bushfire-prone area in NSW should
- Have a bushfire survival plan; and
- Act on that plan early (and don’t wait to leave the area)
Everyone in such an area should closely monitor reports of fire outbreaks. In 2013 there are some good new options for this, complementing tried and tested methods like local radio and television broadcasts, including:
This new app is terrific. It geolocates you (if you allow the app to use your location), and then plots up-to-date information from the RFS about fires that might be in your area, and their status, along with any other information.
In the words of the RFS Deputy Commission of Operations, Bob Rogers:
People should not underestimate how deadly tomorrow’s fire danger could be. #nswfires
- The ABC reports that these bushfires are going to potentially be the “worst ever” for NSW
- Added a link to the RFS’ excellent publication Bushfire Survival Plan.