Bushfire safety advice
Energy Safe Victoria has compiled this list of important information about safely using electrical and gas appliances following bushfires.
Safety around electricity
If you are without power or need to report a fault or emergency, please call your electricity distribution business. You can find a list of contact details on the ESV website.
Safely turning your power back on
If your property or home has suffered a power disruption, please ensure you follow these safety precautions.
- Check that there is no damage to any electrical cables, wiring or other electrical equipment. If you identify any damaged electrical equipment or cables:
- do not turn on the power
- do not touch the equipment or cable
- call a licensed electrician to test and make it safe.
- Unplug or turn off all electrical appliances and equipment before switching the power back on.
- Turn on the main power switch.
- Turn on each circuit breaker one at a time.
- If you have an RCD, press and hold the test button for 5 seconds. This will turn the power off. The RCD must operate immediately on pressing the test button.
- Reset the RCD and press the test button a second time. If the RCD operates correctly and turns off the power, reset it and you can begin switching on electrical equipment
- If the RCD fails the testing, it should be turned off and immediately replaced by a Registered Electrical Contractor (REC).
Solar panel installations
If you identify any damage to, or have concerns about any equipment or cables associated with a solar system, do not go near the equipment or cables, even if the power is turned off to the house.
Portable generators should be used with care as they pose safety risks including electrocution, fire risks or asphyxiation when not used correctly.
Please follow this safety advice to manage the risks associated with the use of portable generators in power outage events:
- Portable generators should never be used indoors or in enclosed areas. They emit carbon monoxide that you cannot see or smell, and may cause carbon monoxide poisoning and asphyxiation very quickly.
- Keep the generator:
- out of dry grass to prevent the exhaust from igniting the grass
- dry and stored on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure.
- away from rain or wet conditions.
- Make sure your hands are thoroughly dried before touching the generator.
- Only use heavy-duty outdoor rated extension cords that are in good condition and rated in watts or amps at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads.
- Never modify an extension cord to plug into household wiring.
- Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall socket or connecting to the switchboard, as this may result in back-feed that can risk the safety of utility workers and neighbours i.e. those connected to the same local network.
- Ensure fuel is stored in proper safety containers and away from ignition sources (eg. natural gas water heater). Turn it off and allow the generator to cool down before refuelling.
Safety around Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)
To report a gas related incident, contact your LPG distributor.
Before evacuating your home
LPG bottles/cylinders always should be secured in an upright position. They are designed to vent gas if they become over-pressurised or when heated.
If exposed to heat, and if safe to do so, hose down the cylinders with water to reduce the heat and pressure.
What to do with an LPG cylinder before evacuating:
- Turn it off (in a clockwise direction) at valve on top of the bottle.
- Leave the bottle or cylinder where it has been installed.
- Leave the bottle or cylinder in an upright position – never lie them down.
- Ensure it is secured to a solid structure and on a solid base to prevent it falling over, with the pressure relief valve vent facing away from building. The vent is the protrusion, usually with a dust cover, that is opposite of where the gas line screws into the valve.
- Remove LPG bottles/cylinders attached to a wooden framed BBQ.
- Move your BBQ cylinder away from you home and other combustible materials. Be sure to keep upright.
- Remove any combustible materials surrounding the gas bottles.
- Make sure there are no bottles or cylinders stored indoors or underneath the property, including BBQ cylinders (4kg and 9kg).
What not to do with an LPG cylinder before evacuating - never
- Place it inside a house or structure during a fire, as it can present a hazard to firefighters.
- Lay it on its side.
- Cover it with wet material to it keep cool – these materials may dry out and burn, heating the bottle/cylinder.
If in doubt, call your local LPG distributor.
When you return home
- If safe to do so, ensure all supply valves and appliances are turned off.
- If your property has been affected by fire or heat, do not turn gas supply back on or attempt to start any appliance.
- The installation should be checked by a licensed gasfitter to ensure the installation is safe.
- Damage to components may not be visible or obvious.
- Note: Gas equipment may have been affected by heat. Although it may not appear visibly damaged, some internal components have low heat ratings and may leak or fail to operate safely. The gasfitter must confirm the gas installation is gas tight and appliances are safe before gas supply is reinstated.
- If an LPG cylinder has fallen or upturned, do not attempt to move it. Contact your local LPG distributor.
- If you can hear or smell LPG:
- turn cylinders off, if safe to do so
- call your LPG distributor or a licensed gasfitter
- stay well clear of the installation and keep any sources of ignition away.
Always follow the directions of fire authorities who are in control while the fire event continues.
If in doubt contact the Energy Safe Victoria technical enquiry line on 1800 652 563.
Natural gas is available in many areas that are subject to bushfire threat around Victoria.
Always turn off the gas supply at the meter when leaving your property or in your preparations to defend it.
If your property has been affected by fire, the installation must be checked by a licensed gasfitter before turning the gas supply back on. Damage to components may not be visible or obvious.
If you suspect the escape of natural gas within your home, contact your gas distributor immediately. Their contact details will be on your last gas bill.
Date: 02/12/2023 18:42
The material in this print-out was accurate at the time of printing.
Reviewed 30 January 2023