COMMENT

Editorial: We were lucky this time but we need to make a plan

ORANGE GLOW: This was the sight of East Street, Parkes just before 3pm on Tuesday when a thick blanket of dust enveloped the town. Photo: Christine Little
ORANGE GLOW: This was the sight of East Street, Parkes just before 3pm on Tuesday when a thick blanket of dust enveloped the town. Photo: Christine Little

Parkes was lucky on Tuesday.

The catastrophic fire warning that existed for large parts of the state didn't relate to the Parkes region, our fire danger was extreme, according to the Rural Fire Service.

We were lucky this time there was no fire, but it's only November, summer doesn't start for another couple of weeks.

The dust that has enveloped our town every time the wind speed gets above 20km/hr is evidence that there is not a lot of ground cover in the west of the state.

The paddocks are a dust bowl, a bad time for the summer ahead, at a time when they should be verdant with pasture and crops.

The strong westerly winds that prevailed on Tuesday, and for most of this week not only brought with them an extreme fire hazard, they were also a major health hazard.

If you are unsure what to do when the dust stirs up you should seek advice from a health professional, especially if you suffer from a respiratory condition.

Tuesday's "catastrophic" warning, while not relevant to our region, puts us all on notice of the need to be prepared. Prepared for the dust and prepared for fire.

There are some very simple things you can do to reduce hazard around your home and property in case of fire.

The Rural Fire Service has pages of instruction on how to prepare on its website https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/

Very simple tasks in the yard and around the home could make the difference between losing and saving your home.

The RFS says you should clear your guttering, trim your trees, mow your lawn and keep a clear area around your house.

You should also remove material that can burn around your home (e.g. door mats, wood piles, mulch, leaves, paint, outdoor furniture).

It may seem commonsense but many homes don't have a hose handy.

If you fall into this category the RFS says you should prepare a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home and make sure you've got a reliable source of water.

And don't forget to sit down and discuss with your family what you'll do in the event of a fire.

If you have a smartphone it's advisable to download the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Fires Near Me app. If you turn on alerts as well as set up notification zones you'll have plenty of warning.

Do it now, just in case.

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