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Nelligen bushfire was a “scary wake up call” for market farmer Jess

Elise Searson 29 November 2019

Old Nelligan Road. Photo: Elise Searson

Jess O’Shea was sitting in her caravan when a friend called to alert her of an out of control fire close by on Old Nelligen Road earlier this week. Thankfully the fire was contained by the following day leaving Jess’s property unscathed but with a lingering question hanging over her head – “What’s my evacuation plan?”

After seeing so many people lose their homes and loved ones in the fires burning across Australia, it’s now easier for Jess to imagine the same threat closer to home.

Tuesday’s flare-up was a little too close for the farmer and Batemans Bay Growers Market founder who says “the fire was a huge eye-opener.”

Jess O’Shea. Photo: Elise Searson

The NSW Rural Fire Service has made it simple for the average person to begin to prepare for the worst-case scenario. The RFS Survival Kit is a good place to start, whether you are going to leave, or stay and actively defend your home.

Some of the things you might include are:

  • Portable battery-operated radio
  • Waterproof torch
  • Spare batteries
  • First aid kit with manual
  • Candles with waterproof matches
  • Woollen blankets
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Waterproof bag for valuables

Before you leave, you should add:

  • Cash, ATM cards, credit cards
  • Medications, toiletries and sanitary supplies
  • Special requirements for infants, elderly, injured, disabled
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Combination pocket knife
  • Important documents, valuables and photos (in a waterproof bag)
  • Change of clothes for everyone
  • Drinking water (at least three litres per person per day)

The NSW Rural Fire Service says to “Keep your Emergency Survival Kit in a waterproof storage container in a location that is easy to get to and that the whole family knows about.”

“This will make it quick and easy to find when you need it. Remember to prepare for your pets as well. Make sure your pet is wearing an identification tag. If you’re leaving, take a leash, basket, medication, food and a familiar toy for your animal. It will help reduce stress.”

Jess O’Shea. Photo: Elise Searson

With this weeks experience fresh in her mind, Jess has made her evacuation plan simple and easy to execute which unfortunately can’t include her four-legged lovelies.

“It’s hard to prepare to leave when I  have 150 chickens, three goats, four sheep, and two pigs. Today I was thinking I would just have to walk away from the animals and I surprisingly handled that ok.”

“I’ll take a small bag of irreplaceable items with me, put everything else in one of the shipping containers and hope for the best. My plan is to just leave.”

Property on Old Nelligan Road. Photo: Elise Searson

The NSW Rural Fire Service has a quick to download guide to prepare rural property and suburban homes for fire.

Now is the time to consider the expert advice and the first-hand experience of people like Jess, get the family together for a fire free bbq and make a plan before the fire comes a knocking!

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