At least 300 schools across New South Wales will close tomorrow as the state braces for catastrophic bushfire conditions.

The Department of Education says the school closures are a precaution. Most of the schools on the closure list are located close to bushland.

Catastrophic bushfire conditions are predicted on Tuesday across Sydney, the Illawarra and the Hunter areas, including The Blue Mountains and the Central Coast. Out-of-control fires are already burning on the NSW North Coast.

“Catastrophic is the highest level of bush fire danger,” the Rural Fire Service (RFS) said in a statement. “Homes are not designed to withstand a fire under these conditions.”

“High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity are forecast, making conditions dangerous.”

Many of the schools closing tomorrow are on Sydney’s northern beaches and North Shore, Blacktown, and close to the Royal National Park. Up to 50 schools on the NSW mid-north coast were also closed on Monday due to extreme fire risk.

“We think it’s much better to be cautious now … rather than trying to evacuate potentially hundreds of school students in emergency situations,” Education Minister Sarah Mitchel told Nine.

“Parents will be advised through their school principals and the Department of Education. We anticipate by pick-up time this afternoon schools will be able to tell parents if their school will be non-operational tomorrow.”

Parents are advised to keep a watch on the school closure list (linked above). The Education Department will update the list constantly.

It’s also a good idea to speak with the kids about the situation. You can download the Rural Fire Service app Fires Near Me to get updates on any fires in your region. It’s also a good time to discuss fire safety with your children and make a plan for what to do in the event of an emergency.

NSW bushfires

People in the catastrophic fire danger zone should avoid bushfire-prone areas, the RFS said. A safer area may be a large town or city, shopping centres or facilities well away from bushland areas.

“If you are unable to leave, identify a safe location which may be nearby. This may include a Neighbourhood Safer Place.”

Emergency resources you need

  • Fires Near Me – this page provides you with details such as the location, size, alert level and status of an incident.
  • Major Fire Updates – during major incidents, these updates provide you with detailed information and advice.
  • Social Media and Apps – The NSW RFS uses social media to engage with the community and to provide information on incidents and activities attended by our volunteers.
  • RSS feeds – these are available for use on media websites, providing a live feed of information from the Service.
  • Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS) – is a distinctive tone played on radio or television in the event of an emergency.

For updates on fires or incidents involving fire authorities outside of NSW please check the websites of fire authorities in these states.

Read more: 

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Alison Godfrey has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years. She loves coffee, wine, skiing and spending time with her husband, two children and their dog. But she's still not sure about the cat. He's pretty cranky.

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