The most important decision that you and your family must consider before the onset of the Fire Danger Season is whether to stay and fight a fire, or to go.
If you don´t feel you could cope or if you have family members who may not be able to fend for themselves in a bushfire, you may choose to relocate to a safe haven early in the day. If the decision is delayed the risk of being caught out in a bushfire increases dramatically.
Experience throughout Australia has shown lives can be lost when people make a last minute panic stricken attempt to flee a bushfire. Life and property can be saved by able bodied people remaining in their homes, given adequate and timely preparation and planning.
CFS can not guarantee the presence of a fire fighting vehicle and crew to protect every home in a major bushfire. It is therefore extremely important to plan for your family´s safety and be self reliant
All residents living in high-risk areas need to have a pre-prepared checklist of what to do in the event of a bushfire. Include simple things that can be acted upon immediately. To make your checklist easier to follow divide it up into things to do inside and outside the house before, during and after the bushfire has passed.
There will be a shower of sparks and embers as the main fire front approaches. This shower of embers will continue for several hours after the fire has passed. You should also expect strong winds and heavy smoke, which will make it dark and reduce visibility. When the fire front actually arrives it will generally pass within 5 to 15 minutes. During this time the radiant heat may become unbearable. It is therefore essential that you retreat indoors taking with you any firefighting equipment such as hoses and buckets etc that may melt if left outside.
Shield your skin from radiant heat. Every member of the household should change in to long sleeved shirts, long pants (made from natural fibres) and sturdy leather foot wear at the first warning of fires in the area. After the fire front passes you should also wear a broad rimmed hat, gloves and goggles to protect your eyes from smoke and flying embers. Your nose and mouth should be covered with a dust mask, towel or scarf etc. A special filter mask for people suffering respiratory conditions such as asthma should be included in your survival kit.
Remember to drink water frequently, preferably every 10 minutes to prevent dehydration. Your body will be under stress from heat, so fluids must be replenished.
Careful planning and reviewing your plans will assist you in surviving a bushfire.