Fire Update in Australia and How You Can Help

Grace McClung, Journalist

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Australia continues to burn and the fires that are devastating Australia’s eastern and southern coasts show little signs of stopping. The bush fires have not only claimed the lives of an estimated 27 people, 1 billion animals, more than 2,000 homes, and 12 million acres, but they have left an array of other disasters in its wake including deadly spiders and hazardous air. If this disaster has taught us anything so far, its that climate change is real and we need to do something about it.

Fire season usually begins in December in Australia, and it continues through February where late January and early February is the peak. This year, fire season began earlier than usual, and its disastrous effects have been seen all over the continent. In November, dozens of fires erupted in Southern Wales, prompting Australia to declare a state of emergency. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate and leave their lives behind, and many have taken refuge on Southern Wales beaches. According to a recent survey of 1,000 people, 57% of Australians have been directly affected by fires in the past three months. For some, this has meant health complications, and for others it has meant the loss of their entire home and all their belongings. 

The smoke is another disaster in itself. Pollution is at all time high in Australia with an air quality index 23 times higher than what is considered hazardous. The smoke has posed an especially dangerous risk to elderly people and newborns; it has filled birthing rooms, prevented MRI machines from working, and caused respiratory distress in many people, one of which died shortly after getting off a plane. And, according to NASA, the smoke has even circumnavigated the globe.

And if things couldn’t get any worse, the current conditions of Australia are perfect for funnel web spiders, one of the most venomous spiders on the planet. Experts warn that with rain, these “disturbingly large” spiders could flood the streets. 

The good news is that rain has helped slow fires and the crisis has brought thousands of people together in efforts to save the rest of Australia that has not been burned. But the rain is far from enough and kindness alone won’t stop this natural disaster. According to a reporter for The Guardian, Audette Exel, Australia needs a “strategic national response to the bushfires” and the support of the rest of the world. So here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Australian Koala Foundation

This foundation allows you to plant a tree, adopt a koala, or make a quick donation. The money goes to preserving koala habitats and pushing for koala protection laws. 

  1. WIRES

This foundation, also known as the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization. It focuses on all the animals impacted by fires in Australia, not just Koalas. You can donate online, through Facebook, by email, or by phone. 

  1. GIVIT

GIVIT allows you to donate money or items needed by people affected by the fire. Through their website, you can find a list of recipients with needs and choose what you want to give. A variety of items are needed from bikes to pipes to freezers. 

  1. Australian Red Cross

You can support Australia’s red cross too, which provides clothing, food, shelter, and care to fire victims with donations. You can also donate food and items as well. Similar to the Red Cross is the Salvation Army which you can donate to as well. 

  1. Fire Departments

In Victoria and New South Wales where the fires have hit the hardest, you can donate directly to the state fire departments/authority. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has even established a platform where you can donate money to fn families and communities impacted by fires. 

The best way to help Australia and victims of the bush fires is by donating money to organizations like these. But if you can’t afford to donate, you can help by spreading the word and encouraging others to get involved. You can also stay informed. Knowing the extent to which climate change can impact a country is important in preventing another disaster like this one. “Climate change is super-charging our natural disaster risks,” says Greg Mullins who is New South Wales’ former Fire and Rescue commissioner. If everyone was more informed, we could more easily fight climate change and protect the earth.