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Get ready for summer - be prepared and stay safe

Pambula Beach.

14 December 2020

Bega Valley Shire Council is gearing up for a busy and safe summer, with resources and infrastructure on standby, and some helpful messages about seasonal safety and preparedness.

Council’s Director of Assets and Operations and Local Emergency Management Officer (LEMO), Anthony McMahon has urged residents and visitors to the area to be prepared for natural disasters, remain COVIDSafe and take extra care while on the road and in the water.

“Summer brings a greater risk of bushfires, grassfires, floods, landslides, storms, strong winds and heat, as well as an increased need for awareness of road and water safety as we welcome hundreds of visitors to our Shire,” Mr McMahon said.

“The key to having a great summer break with family and friends this year is to be informed, prepared and alert.

“While we’re all keen to relax and slow down at the end of what’s been a very challenging year, it’s important to remain vigilant about safety.

“Do your research now. Make a plan for what you will do and where you will go during an emergency. Know how to stay informed and don’t rely on just one source for emergency information.”

Mr McMahon said Council has been working closely with external agencies in preparation for any future emergencies.

“We have a Local Emergency Plan ready to activate and four primary evacuation centres in Bermagui, Bega, Merimbula and Eden. We also have other locations identified if we need them.

“We have a COVIDSafe plan ready if we do need to stand up an evacuation centre. This means we may ask you to get tested before you attend an evacuation centre, and that you consider any other safe options you can make use of, to reduce the risk of our centres becoming overcrowded.

“We have removed much of the burnt vegetation and hazardous trees in bushfire-affected road corridors across the Shire and our crews are continuing to clear roads and remove potential fire hazards.

“There’s a chance we may have more slips and washaways due to saturated ground conditions and expected heavy rainfalls, so we ask our community – both residents and visitors – to contact us if they see this anywhere on our road network.

“We want everyone to have safe and happy holidays and of course, this year that also means adapting our usual summer rituals to include COVIDSafe practices.

“Avoid crowded environments, maintain physical distancing of 1.5m – about the length of a beach towel – and where physical distancing cannot be maintained, wear a mask. If you feel unwell, get tested and self-isolate.

“Summer is a particularly busy time of year for all emergency services; so we need to put safety first. If we do this, our holidays will be remembered for all the right reasons.”

Overall emergency tips

Get Ready for summer by following these five simple steps from Resilience NSW.

  1. Know your risk – think about the area you’re in and the types of disasters that could affect you
  2. Plan now for what you will do – sit down and talk with your family and plan for what you will do if a disaster affects your area
  3. Get your home ready – prepare your home by doing general home maintenance and checking your insurance coverage
  4. Be aware – find out how to prepare, what to do if there is a disaster in your area and connect with NSW emergency services to stay informed
  5. Look out for each other – share information with your family, friends, neighbours and those who may need assistance.

Council’s Bega Valley Together webpage has more information, including local emergency contact details.

Council’s Facebook page is also a source of information. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can still view our Facebook page using your web browser, but this is limited to reading information only.

Bushfire survival

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has a Bushfire Survival Plan on its website you can download, which takes as little as five minutes to complete.

The RFS’s key messages are:

  • Step 1 – discuss what to do if a bushfire threatens your home
  • Step 2 – prepare your home and get it ready for bushfire season
  • Step 3 – know the bushfire alert levels
  • Step 4 – keep all the bushfire information numbers, websites and the smartphone app

The NSW Fires Near Me app and the NSW Rural Fire Service webpage have new icons for Advice, Watch and Act, and Emergency Warning. It’s part of the new Australian Warning System, to help you receive consistent information in emergencies no matter where you live, work or travel.

You can download the Fires Near Me app from the App Store or Google Play.

Water safety

The Australian Lifeguard Service will again be a fixture on eight of the Shire’s beaches this summer, together with volunteers from the Bermagui, Tathra and Pambula Surf Lifesaving Clubs, and the NSW Far South Coast Surf Lifesaving Branch.

Lifeguard services will kick off on Monday 21 December at Horseshoe Bay (Bermagui), Tathra, Pambula and Aslings (Eden) beaches.

Camel Rock, Short Point, Bar Beach and Merimbula Main beaches will follow on Boxing Day (26 December). Visit Council’s Beaches webpage for days and times.

Along with swimming between the flags, staying hydrated and being sun-safe, don’t forget to be COVIDSafe while enjoying our beaches and swimming pools.

Current beach conditions are available on the Beach Safe website.

Extreme weather

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) is an emergency and rescue service of volunteers dedicated to assisting the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The SES’s major responsibilities are for flood and storm emergencies.

Across the Sapphire Coast, we have the NSW SES Bega Valley, NSW SES Eden Unit and the new NSW SES Bermagui Unit. You can follow these pages on Facebook for current alerts and information.

COVIDSafety

Being COVIDSafe is a responsibility we all share.

When you visit a business, venue or organisation you need to follow their COVIDSafety rules. Always provide your name and contact number, follow any directions provided by staff, and practice good hand hygiene and physical distancing (1.5 metres).

Businesses in the Shire should ensure they have completed a COVID-19 Safety Plan and registered as a COVIDSafe business.

Council has a dedicated COVID-19 webpage with information applicable to Bega Valley residents, businesses and visitors, which is updated as relevant information comes to hand.

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