The bushfire season is a stressful time for a lot of people. It is normal to feel anxious during this time of year, and this anxiety may be worse for people who have been affected by bushfires in the past.
How your mind deals with a threat
During a threat or emergency, such as a bushfire, our bodies are placed in a heightened state of alert. This is a natural response to danger that helps us deal with immediate circumstances.
The heightened state helps us:
- think clearly
- plan and make decisions
- set priorities based on the immediate situation.
This is a natural response, but maintaining this state through a long period, such as the bushfire season, can take its toll. It can make your mind and body fatigued and less efficient.
Getting emotionally prepared for bushfire season
Preparing for the bushfire season isn’t only about physical preparation, such as getting your house or property ready. It’s also important that you prepare yourself emotionally. You might think of this as becoming mentally fit and prepared.
As summer and a new bushfire season approaches, it is normal to feel stressed, worried and anxious, especially if you have been impacted by bushfires before.
Now is the time to emotionally prepare, so you’re better able to manage if there is a new fire near you.
Make a Bushfire Survival Plan
Preparing a Bushfire Survival Plan will help you cope, mentally, throughout the bushfire season. It will help reduce the uncertainty and anxiety around what you and your family will do if a threat arises.
If you take steps to get prepared before the fire season, you’ll know what to do when you’re at risk of fire. A written and well-practised plan will help you remember what needs to be done during a crisis. Use the CFA’s Bushfire survival planning template – Leaving early to help you write down your plan.
You can also use the Red Cross’ Emergency Rediplan template. It’s a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for emergencies, including bushfire. It includes advice and suggestions for emotional preparedness.
How do I become emotionally prepared for bushfire?
Emotional preparedness involves becoming aware of, understanding, and knowing how to better manage your tendency to become stressed. You can do this by giving attention to three main areas:
- Anticipate – that the bushfire season and the occurrence of bushfires will be stressful and will cause your body and mind to react in a very specific way. Recognise your body’s stress response and think about how it may affect your ability to respond in the event of a bushfire. For example, you may find it difficult to think clearly and to make decisions.
- Identify – the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations that a bushfire is likely to trigger for you.
- Manage – the different aspects of your body’s stress response. Learn strategies that help you to manage your stress. This can help you to function effectively when faced with a bushfire.
Useful resources for bushfire preparation
If at any time you are worried about your mental health or the mental health of a loved one, call Lifeline 13 11 14.
Plan to stay informed during a threat or emergency
Download the Vic Emergency app from Google Play or the App Store. Set up a 'watch zone' for your location to make sure you're notified of the risk of an emergency event occurring.
Where to get help
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Department of Health and Human Services - Emergency Management
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