RAGING bushfires have been engulfing parts of Australia, with emergency warnings issued across the country.
Some of the most popular tourist spots in the country have been affected by the devastating fires, with tourists warned to evacuate and stay away.
If you’re heading to Australia, here’s what you need to know.
Which Australian regions are affected?
Victoria and New South Wales have been the worst-hit states, but other states are also affected.
The districts of Mallee, Wimmera, South West, Northern Country, North Central, Central, West and South Gippsland in Victoria have all been rated severe for fire danger today (December 30), with a total fire ban across the state.
In East Gippsland, Victoria, bushfires have been described as “out of control”, with temperatures set to soar to 40C.
For those in the area, it is already too late to evacuate.
The Victoria Government emergency warning system issued a red alert saying: “You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive.”
It said: “The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately. It is too late to leave.”
New South Wales is also under a total fire ban with bushfires affecting several districts.
Green Valley, Talmalmo, and Werri Berri have both been described as “out of control” while other regions are being controlled or under control.
In many areas, locals and tourists have been told to watch and act.
However, despite the total fire ban, Sydney has been approved to host the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Why are bushfires so dangerous?
Australia’s bushfire season typically takes place in the summer months, between November and February, according to the Foreign Office.
Several firefighters have already lost their lives this year while combating the unpredictable and out of control bushfires.
The fires can start and change direction with little or no notice due to the arid climate and high wind, so visitors need to heed local advice and evacuate when advised – otherwise they risk being trapped in the middle of the fires.
As a result of the fires, temperatures have soared to upwards of 40C in some areas.
And aside from the obvious fire danger, bushfires can also severely impact air quality, with asthma sufferers among the worst affected.
Should you avoid travelling to Australia?
While there are no travel warnings against travelling to Australia, you should check whether the destinations you’re visiting is safe.
Tourist activities in some areas have been cancelled, so you should check before you travel to make sure any tours you’ve booked are going ahead.
You should also contact any hotels you’ve booked to make sure it’s safe to travel and that they can still host you as there could be water shortages in the area.
What should you do if you get caught up in a bushfire?
Before you travel, check the latest advice in your area.
The websites you should check
In the unfortunate event you’re caught up in the bushfires, the Victoria Government advised that as a last resort, people should “shelter in the middle of a large open area like a ploughed paddock, football oval or sporting reserve,” or try to “get into a large body of water like a dam, lake, river, the ocean or inground pool.”
You should also dial 000 in an emergency.
Up to a third of koalas are being wiped out by the bushfires in Australia.
Victims of bushfires are being targeted by scammers.
Soaring temperatures due to the fires has meant birds have literally dropped from the skies.
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