Please Note: This Pro-Tip is out of order when it comes to what we have been rebooting for the website. However we feel that with the Hot temperatures and Bushfires going on it was an important message to get out to people, so please share it amongst your contacts as the details on here could help protect you in an extreme environmental situation. If you would like any more details about anything mentioned please feel free to contact us or check out the websites listed at the bottom of the tip.
Living in Australia Bushfires are one of those threats that we cannot avoid, but by knowing what to do if you are in a bush fire area you may be able to help protect yourself. The number one thing to always remember in any emergency situation is to STAY CALM, if you panic then you will move slower and it will be harder to make decisions. Bushfires are scary they move quickly and the noise is deafening if you are near them so make sure you have plans in place to help you survive. If you live in a bushfire area there are certain steps you should take to protect your property as best as possible but also for preparation if the bushfire does come and you need to evacuate.
Preparing your property:
- Cut any long grass
- move any branches/leaves near the house far away
- trim any trees/bushes near the house
- remove any furniture or mats from the outside of the house
- keep block generally clear and tidy
Preparation for a Bushfire
- Use local fire authorities resources available (State based fire authorities details listed below)
- Ensure you advise friends/family of your survival plan to help avoid confusion and extra stress
- Know your trigger to leave (Watching for ‘Code Red’ on Fire boards, listen to warnings on local radio, keep an eye on Fire authorities website/app)
- Have your Survival plan located somewhere easy to find (to prevent panic about not knowing where it is and what you need to do)
- Keep all valuable items in an easily located space (even with your survival plan) so that if you need to evacuate they are together and ready to go
Your Survival plan needs to cover 3 main areas: What to do before you leave, Where can you go on high-risk Bushfire days & a plan of how you will reach your destination. The more details you have arranged in your survival plan the easier it will be to remain calm and focused if a bush fire ever eventuates.
What to do before you leave (this is to try and help minimize damage to your house and possessions):
- Make sure all doors and windows are shut
- As previous mentioned remove all outdoor furniture and door mats
- Move any animals to large well maintained paddocks
- If there is gas at the property turn it off
- Spray the house with water – particularly roof gutters (block the downpipes so the water says in place)
- Leave clear access to the property – no locked gates. So that fire crews can access the property if needed.
- Prepare survival kit for travel and contact any one who needs to be contacted as part of your survival plan
- Make sure you take a list of all necessary numbers that you may need once relocated – mobile phones are not reliable so take a written list as well in case your phone breaks.
Where can you go on Bushfire high risk days
- Community centers/temporary shelters
- Any public spaces that are in low fire risk areas
- family/friends who live in low fire risk areas
Planning to reach your destination
- Plan where you are going and the route to get there in advance (always plan multiple routes to get there in case of road closures)
- If you do not have a car make arrangements with neighbors or family members near by
- Practice planning the car with everything you will take during an evacuation. This helps speed up the process and lets you know that everything will fit (prized possessions, pets etc.)
- Take your Survival plan and have a bushfire kit in your car (view image below for what should be in a bush fire survival kit)
The number one killer in a bushfire is radiant heat so it is important to make sure that if you are in a bushfire area to have clothes in your car that may help protect you from radiant heat such as boots, natural fibre clothes (e.g. cotton) goggles, face mask if possible (or bandana soaked in water – this is more to prevent smoke inhalation) broad brimmed hat and gloves. You want to have as much of your skin covered as possible.
Traveling in a bushfire
If you find yourself in bushfire and you are unable to escape (whether it be in a car or hiking) there are steps you can take to try and protect yourself from injury – however it is an extremely dangerous situation to find yourself in and should be avoided at all costs.
If you find yourself in a bush fire and you are in a CAR:
- DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CAR – stay in the vehicle is the current advice
- Park in a large cleared area (eg like a paddock) which is away from trees and if possible long grass
- Turn on any external lights you may have (e.g Headlights and Hazard lights) to draw attention to yourself
- Close all windows and vents to prevent smoke entering the car – if the car fills up you risk asphyxiation.
- Get below window level (lie down behind drivers seat or on back seat if possible)
- Cover yourself with a dry woolen blanket (it must be wool)
- When fire has passed get out of the car
When driving across country you should consider taking the survival kit (shown above) just as a precaution. it may help you survive during and after a bushfire has passed if you find yourself stuck in one. It is important to also try and wear natural fiber clothing like cotton when traveling through the country, not only will it help you stay safe from heat related illness it will also keep you much safer in a fire as it doesn’t melt like acrylic material does in radiant heat. Acrylic material if it melts onto your skin can cause horrific burns. Keeping a wool blanket or Jumper, mittens and balaclava in your can is also important because Wool doesn’t catch fire like other materials which is why it it recommended to have in fire situations. The wool will just singe like human hair does and this will help protect you.
If you find yourself in a bushfire and you are HIKING/CAMPING:
- Always carry woolen jumper/s, balaclava, and mittens to help cover the majority of your skin from burns
- Seek refuge behind rocky outcrop, a high wall, in a cave, gully/large animal burrow, paddock, lake or dam.
- Avoid slopes and hill tops (avoid where possible being above a fire)
- DO NOT seek shelter in above ground water tanks or pools (as these act like giant cooking pots when the fire arrives and boils the water)
- Carry plenty of water and food supplies, AM/FM radio if possible and always have a first aid kit available
- Always make sure that you have told family/friends before you leave where you are/plan to be so that they can notify authorities of your approximate location if they haven’t heard from you. If people don’t know you are out there, they wont know to look for you.
As mentioned at the start of this Pro-Tip the safest thing to do is avoid bushfire areas and evacuate early. Fire moves extremely quickly (far quicker than most people think) and the number one killer in a bush fire isn’t the flames it is the radiant heat which reaches you before the flames do. Please always have a survival plan if you live in a high-risk area, and if you are traveling through a bushfire area please take a survival kit with you as a precaution.
For more information on all of this and also for a Fire Ready Survival kit Please follow the links below for your state (if you are unable to access the link – due to page overloads – please contact us and we will email you back a copy of the kit)
Remember that the number one thing to do in a Bushfire is STAY CALM – do not panic and stick to your plan, or follow the steps above to give yourself a fighting chance against the fires.
Bushfire information services: