Disaster recovery quicker for the prepared

·2-min read

The better prepared people are for disaster, the faster they recover, the Australian Red Cross is warning, as the majority of the country's eastern seaboard enters fire danger season.

Some 21 local government areas in NSW - stretching from the Tweed on the Queensland border to the Bega Valley near the Victorian border - commenced their bushfire danger period on Wednesday.

They join six other NSW areas that have been on high alert since August 1, and the whole of Queensland where fire season began in July.

Spring has also brought the release of new research by the Red Cross, which analysed the experiences of 165 people who lived through disasters between 2018 and 2019, including the Black Summer Bushfires.

The research for the first time proved that the more prepared people feel in the face of a disaster, the lowers their stress level is and the better they recover, Red Cross National Resilience Adviser John Richardson said.

More than half of those who were 'ready' for the disaster - by protecting what matters most, understanding their risks and capacities and taking pragmatic action - had recovered within a month, the study found.

Meanwhile among those who were 'unsure' - with a poor understanding of their risks and capacities - 41 per cent took between one and five years to recover.

When respondents were asked what they wished they had done, the most common answers were making copies of and protecting important documents such as wills, ID and financial papers, and protecting items of sentimental value.

The research demonstrates the need for better disaster preparedness programs, with most currently focusing only on surviving disaster and its immediate aftermath, Mr Richardson said.

"We know that the level of preparedness is low in Australia, with around 10 per cent of people saying they take some form of action, and we know the impacts of disasters are increasing, through climate change, increasing disadvantage and urbanisation," he said.

"The need for people to take action is urgent."

Meanwhile NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers has warned landowners getting prepared for the bushfire season should not conduct their own hazard reduction burns.

Since July 1, the RFS has responded to more than 130 incidents of escaped private pile and hazard reduction burns.

Firefighters are particularly concerned about grass fires this season.

"Landholders and firefighters have reported increased grass and crop growth from recent rain, particularly west of the ranges. The threat of grass fires will increase as this dries out," he said.

Fire season for the rest of NSW will begin on October 1, with Victoria yet to declare a fire danger period for any of its local government areas.

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