The Bureau of Meteorology has officially declared the return of El Niño, bringing with it a reminder for Australians to stay prepared for hot, dry conditions and potential fire dangers.
What is it again?
El Niño occurs when water in the middle and eastern part of the Pacific Ocean gets much warmer than usual. This causes rain to move away from eastern Australia and go towards the middle and eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean. This can result in eastern Australia experiencing a heightened risk of bushfires, drought, and heatwaves. Because of climate change, El Niño and La Niña events are becoming more frequent.
Why be prepared?
As El Niño returns, it serves as a stark reminder that being prepared can make all the difference in ensuring the safety and well-being of you and your loved ones, as well as your property and community. It’s important to think about how to prepare both practically and psychologically for an emergency. Disruption to routines can increase anxiety and impact how you might respond. By having a plan in place and taking the necessary precautions, you can increase your resilience and readiness when faced with unexpected challenges.
The Australian Red Cross has outlined four proactive steps for becoming better prepared for any emergency:
- GET IN THE KNOW: Understand the specific risks in your area, where to get information, and how to manage stress.
- GET CONNECTED: Identify emergency contacts, meeting places, and people who can help.
- GET ORGANISED: Gather records of your medical conditions, the medications you take, your care plan, doctors/specialists, nursing, and home care support agency contact details.
- GET PACKING: Create a checklist of survival items and gather personal belongings important to you.
Australian Red Cross resources:
- Get Prepared App: Download the Get Prepared app for a personalized emergency plan, local contacts, info sources, and checklists.
- RediPlan and Survival Kit: Download the Rediplan emergency plan guide and survival kit checklist.
- EmergencyRedi workshops: The Australian Red Cross hosts interactive workshops to prepare for any emergency.
The NSW Rural Fire Service also has resources on preparing your home and vegetation clearing to help reduce the risks to your home during an emergency.
*Australian Red Cross, ‘Preparing for emergencies,’ accessed October 2023, <https://www.redcross.org.au/prepare/>
*Bureau of Meteorology, ‘The Bureau declares El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole events,’ accessed October 2023, <https://media.bom.gov.au/releases/1183/the-bureau-declares-el-nino-and-positive-indian-ocean-dipole-events/>
*Climate Council, ‘El Niño officially returns, heralding hotter, drier conditions and increased fire danger for Australia,’ accessed October 2023,