GREEN SHOPPING BAGS TO HELP SAVE LIVES IN EMERGENCY

York residents are to take part in a trial using green shopping bags to show they have left their property in the case of an emergency such as a fire.

The system involves property owners placing a green shopping bag weighted down or tied to the gate at the entrance of their property as they leave. This tells police and emergency workers that the occupants have left for a safe place and frees them up to check other properties.

Systematic checking of individual properties is time consuming. The use of a green bag flagging allows firefighters, police and others to move more quickly and possibly save lives.

York residents will join others in Armadale, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Geraldton, Manjimup, Nannup and Wanneroo in evaculation flagging this summer. The trial is a joint initiative involving the Department of Fire and Emergency Service, Department of Parks and Wildlife, WA Police and in this case, the Shire of York.

The system ties in with individual survival plans and the DEFS warning system, which has levels: Advice, Watch and Act, Emergency Warning and All Clear.

Evacuation flagging systems are not new. They have been successfully introduced in Canada and New Zealand, and found to work particularly well in small, semirural communities. The first stage of the current trial in WA was conducted in Bridgetown-Greenbushes in 2012-2013. Previous exercises in Denmark and Mundaring have been successful.

Local DEFS co-ordinator Justin Corrigan, said: "It is advised that people make an early decision to evaculate or to stay and actively defend. "Marking your property will allow the evacuation process to be more efficient. If you are asked to evacuate, the evacuation point for York is the Community Recreation and Convention Centre at Forrest Reserve or wherever is determined by the incident controller on the day," he said.

For more information about flagging visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au, the Shire of York or the Community Services Manager Justin Corrigan on 0427 057 719.