Summer is still one week away and already Australia has faced huge fire challenges. Over the past weeks, there have been fires burning across the country. The east coast of Australia, in particular, has seen dreadful fires with over 150 houses destroyed and lives lost. We live in a very high fire danger area, surrounded by bush and with only one road in and one road out. The undergrowth in the bush surrounding our house is very very dry and crunchy underfoot at the moment. For these reasons and because of the fires that have been burning so early in the season, we have at last been jolted out of our complacency and started to think about creating our fire plan. Until now, we have had a vague plan, but it’s time now to take the advice of the government and the fire authorities and make a solid and clear plan. We live in Victoria, Australia, so the information here is as relating to Victoria, but I’m sure the advice would be the same or similar for all states.
Message from the Premier and Minister
“Our emergency services are ready for a long, hot and dry fire season. A record fleet of 50 aircraft and thousands of volunteers and career firefighters are ready to respond. These Victorians do an incredible job in keeping our state safe. But they can’t do it alone. We all have a responsibility to plan and prepare for fire.
Whether you’re in the bush, near the beach, close to grassland or paddocks, you need to prepare now. there are some simple steps you can take straight away to stay safe this fire season. Make a fire plan and now your trigger to enact it. Talk to your loved ones and make sure they know the plan too. Know where you’ll get your emergency information from, and have your emergency kit ready to go.
And for more information on how to prepare, visit http://vic.gov.au/know fire. Taking the right steps now could make all the difference”
The above message was printed in newspapers all over Victoria on the weekend. I’m sure that newspapers from other states also had messages from their Premier. Such is the importance of spreading the word that summer is a time of very high fire danger, but particular this summer coming.
- Victoria is one of the highest bush fire danger regions in the world, along with California and Spain.
- It only takes two weeks of hot, dry and windy weather to create conditions that are perfect for bushfires.
- Normal Victorian Homes are not equipped to survive a bushfire, without a fire plan.
- Extreme heat that is caused by a bushfire can kill from up to 300 metres away and can cause trees to combust without being touched by the fire.
- A bushfire can travel at 25kmh which makes them impossible to outrun. A change in wind direct can alter their trajectory in seconds.
- A bushfires travels twice as fast uphill or on a very slight slope.
- Burning can start new spot fires in just seconds. Embers can cause a bushfire to spread up to 40k ahead of the fire front
- rural grassfires can be just as dangerous as bushfires.
Following are a few simple questions to ask yourself, when making your fire plan. This is just a starting point. We found, as we studied these questions, and then applied them to our situation, we could think of other steps to add. We are going to use the following steps to create a basic fire plan, and then add other steps necessary to personalise it, making it Our Plan.
The first thing we needed to decide was whether we would leave early or stay to defend our house. We have decided to leave early, mainly because due to the situation where we live, we would have to defend our property by ourselves. Because we have only one road in and out, a fire truck wouldn’t be sent to our house. To do so would be too hazardous to the fire fighters, which we do understand and appreciate. To leave early means being away from the property before there are any signs of fire. Deciding when to leave is the most important decision to make. It is much too late to make this decision, when fire is threatening.
What will you do in case of bushfire
- What is your trigger to enact your plan?
- How will you get your emergency warnings and updates?
- Who is likely to be at the house on weekdays?
- Who is likely to be at the house on weekends or holidays?
- Where will you go if you need to evacuate?
- What will you do with your pets and livestock?
- How will you travel there?
- What are your alternative routes out of the area
Pack Your Emergency Kit
- Protective clothing such as long sleeve clothing made from natural fibres
- Food and water
- Woollen blankets
- Medications and toiletries
- Change of clothes
- Identification papers (eg photo ID, passport, insurance policies etc)
- First aid kit
- Pet food, water and bedding if needed
- Mobile phone and charger
- Battery powered radio, torch and spare batteries
It is very important to keep up with the latest fire danger warnings and restrictions. Fire Danger Ratings tell you how dangerous a fire would be if one started. The higher the rating the more dangerous the conditions. Total fire Bans tell you what you can and can’t do, and what activities are banned on certain days during high fire risk months.
PLAN – ACT – SURVIVE
Are you concerned about the high fire dangers we are facing this summer? Have you made your own fire plan? I’d love to hear about it. I love it when you comment and promise to reply to all comments made.
https://www.vic.gov.au/how-well-do-you-know-fire How well do you know fire?
https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au Country Fire Authority
https://www.emergency.vic.gov.au Incidents and Warnings
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