Your guide to preparing for and surviving the bushfire season

Bushfires can start suddenly without warning – are you ready?

Bushfire Information Hotline : 1800 362 361 (TTY 133 677)

If you and your home are well prepared, you stand a better chance of surviving a bushfire.

Every year there are 756 bushfires on average throughout South Australia and about 67% are in the most densely populated areas like the Mount Lofty Ranges.

There is a real chance you will experience a dangerous bushfire at some time in your life.

One of the most important things to do before a bushfire is to decide what you'll do if one should start.

This booklet can help you make that decision and assist you with the steps in preparing yourself, your home and family.

  • Bushfires can start suddenly without warning
  • They destroy homes, properties and lives every summer
  • There is a chance you will experience a bushfire in your lifetime
  • You can increase your chances of survival by preparing

Am I at risk?

  • My local area has a history of bushfires
  • I live in or near bushland, grassland, forest, paddocks, scrub or heathlands
  • I have many trees and shrubs around my home
  • My home is built on a slope
  • I need to travel through bushland to leave home
  • My children go to school in a bushfire risk area, or travel through one on their way
  • I don't have a written Bushfire Survival Plan, or it is more than one year old

If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, your safety may be at risk if a bushfire happens near you.

Did you know?

Over 35 Suburbs on Adelaide's fringes and more than 75 towns in the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island and other parts of rural South Australia are in bushfire risk areas.

Create your own Bushfire Survival Plan in 5 minutes at cfs.sa.gov.au/5minutebushfireplan

What Fire Ban District am I in?

SA Fire Ban Districts

South Australia is divided into 15 Fire Ban Districts. Each district has its own fire danger season dates, so it is important to know which district you live, travel or work in.

Find your Fire Ban District at cfs.sa.gov.au

The Fire Danger Season

The Fire Danger Season generally runs from November to April. During the season, restrictions are placed on lighting fires and other activities to reduce the chance of bushfires starting.

Know your district Fire Danger Season

These dates may change due to seasonal conditions.

Fire Ban District Start Date Finish Date
Adelaide Metropolitan 1 December 30 April
Eastern Eyre Peninsula 1 November 15 April
Flinders 1 November 15 April
Kangaroo Island 1 December 30 April
Lower Eyre Peninsula 1 November 6 May
Lower South East 22 November 30 April
Mid North 1 November 30 April
Mount Lofty Ranges 1 December 15 May
Murraylands 15 November 15 April
North East Pastoral 15 October 31 March
North West Pastoral 15 October 31 March
Riverland 1 November 15 April
Upper South East 15 November 15 April
West Coast 1 November 15 April
Yorke Peninsula 1 November 30 April

What do the Fire Danger Ratings mean?

Fire danger rating

Fire Danger Rating What does it mean? What should I do?
CATASTROPHIC
TOTAL FIRE BAN

What does it mean?

  • These are the worst conditions for a bush or grass fire
  • Homes are not designed or constructed to withstand fires in these conditions
  • The safest place to be is away from high risk bushfire areas

What should I do?

  • Leaving high risk bushfire areas the night before or early in the day is your safest option – do not wait and see
  • Avoid forested areas, thick bush and long, dry grass
  • Know your trigger – make a decision about:
    • when you will leave
    • where you will go
    • how you will get there
    • when you will return
    • what you will do if you cannot leave
EXTREME
TOTAL FIRE BAN

What does it mean?

  • Expect extremely hot, dry and windy conditions
  • If a fire starts and takes hold, it will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving. Spot fires will start, move quickly and will come from many directions
  • Homes situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire, that are well prepared and actively defended, may provide safety
  • You must be physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions

What should I do?

  • Consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire, you are well prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts
  • If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option
SEVERE
TOTAL FIRE BAN

What does it mean?

  • Expect hot, dry and possibly windy conditions
  • If a fire starts and takes hold, it may be uncontrollable
  • Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety
  • You must be physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions

What should I do?

  • Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety – check your Bushfire Survival Plan
  • If you are not prepared, leaving bushfire risk areas early in the day is your safest option
VERY HIGH


What does it mean?

  • If the fire starts, it can most likely be controlled in these conditions and homes can provide safety
  • Be aware of how fires can start and minimise risk
  • Controlled burning may occur in these conditions if it is safe – check to see if permits apply

What should I do?

  • Check your Bushfire Survival Plan
  • Monitor conditions
  • You may need to act
  • Leave if necessary

 

 

HIGH
LOW-MODERATE

Fires can threaten suddenly and without warning

  • WATCH for signs of fire, especially smoke and flames
  • KNOW the Fire Danger Rating and be aware of conditions
  • HAVE your Bushfire Survival Plan and Emergency kit ready

To seek information

Listen to ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations or Sky News TV

Go to cfs.sa.gov.au

Call the Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 (TTY 133 677)

Fire regulations – what can I / can't I do?

Restrictions are in place during the Fire Danger Season and on Total Fire Ban days. Your local council can tell you what restrictions are in place at other times.

  Within the Fire Danger Season On a Total Fire Ban Day
Can I light a fire without a permit? NO Fires are NOT permitted. NO Fires are NOT permitted.
Can I burn-off on my property? NO

Unless you have obtained a Schedule 9 Permit from your local council.

Check with your local council for conditions.

NO

Fires are NOT permitted.

Can I burn rubbish or grass clippings? NO

For any burning of rubbish or vegetation clippings, a Schedule 9 permit is required from your local council.

NO

The lighting of incinerators is banned.

You must check with your local council for compliance with Environment Protection Authority restrictions. Some councils have totally prohibited the use of incinerators and open fires for waste disposal on domestic premises.
Can I have a fire in a forest reserve? NO

No fires, including barbecues and campfires, are permitted in forest reserves between November 30 to April 30 each year. However, gas barbecues may be permitted in designated areas in Mount Lofty Ranges forest under certain conditions.

For enquiries, contact the Forestry Reserve office.

NO Fires are NOT permitted.
Can I have a fire in a National Park Reserve? NO

Strict regulations apply to all fires, including barbecues, in National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. Signs are placed at the park entrance when fires are permitted, but they can only be lit in designated areas. may National Parks and Wildlife Reserves have total bans on the use of wood fires.

For further information, contact the Park Office.

NO Fires are NOT permitted.
Can I use a gas or electric barbecue? YES

Providing:

  • The BBQ is clear of all flammable material to a distance of at least 4 metres;
  • A person who is able to control the fire is present at the site of the fire until it is extinguished;
  • An appropriate extinguisher is at hand.
YES

A gas or electric barbecue can be used:

Providing:

  • The BBQ is clear of all flammable material to a distance of at least 4 metres;
  • A person who is able to control the fire is present at the site of the fire until it is extinguished;
  • An appropriate extinguisher is at hand.
Some local councils allow gas or electric barbecues in caravan parks or cleared picnic areas. Look for signs or contact the council for advice.
Can I use a solid fuel (wood/charcoal) kettle BBQ? YES

Provided that:

  • The BBQ is clear of all flammable material to a distance of at least 4 metres;
  • A person who is able to control the fire is present at the site of the fire until it is extinguished;
  • An appropriate extinguisher is at hand.
NO

A solid fuel burning kettle BBQ (one that uses fuel such as wood, charcoal or heat beads) cannot be used unless you obtain a Schedule 10 Permit from your local council. These permits are generally only issued for emergency purposes.

A gas-fired kettle BBQ can be used if used within 15 metres of a domestic premises or on a coastal foreshore, providing that:

  • The BBQ is clear of all flammable material to a distance of at least 4 metres;
  • A person who is able to control the fire is present at the site of the fire until it is extinguished;
  • An appropriate extinguisher is at hand.
Can I use a pizza oven? YES Provided it is a gas or electric - see above for barbeques.
If wood fired, it must comply with CFS Code of Practice for wood fired pizza ovens or obtain a Schedule 9 Permit* from your local council.
NO Unless it is gas or electric - see above for barbeques - or you have obtained a Schedule 10 Permit* from your local council
Can I use a chainsaw, brush cutter, mower or slasher? YES

Providing:

  • you have a 4-metre cleared space around the activity, or
  • a shovel or rake and portable water spray are at hand, and additionally:
  • all engine exhaust exits through the exhaust system, and
  • the system prevents the escape of burning material
  • heated parts of the system are prevented from coming into contact with flammable material
  • the system is in good working order.
YES

Providing:

  • you have a 4-metre cleared space around the activity, or
  • a shovel or rake and portable water spray are at hand, and additionally:
  • all engine exhaust exits through the exhaust system, and
  • the system prevents the escape of burning material
  • heated parts of the system are prevented from coming into contact with flammable material
  • the system is in good working order.
Can I use an angle grinder, welder or any other cutting tool outside? YES Providing you have a 4-metre cleared space around the area, and water or an extinguisher is at hand. NO Unless you have obtained a Schedule 10 Permit from your local council. These permits are generally only issued for emergency purposes.
Can I have a campfire, bonfire or light a fire for warmth or comfort? YES

Providing:

  •  the fire is in a 30 cm deep trench and no more than one square metre in area;
  •  you have a four-metre cleared space around and above the fire;
  •  a responsible person is in attendance at all times with water and/or an extinguisher

Please note that only charcoal is allowed to be burnt for comfort fires within a metropolitan area or within township boundaries by the EPA Legislation. Check with your local council before lighting a comfort fire.

The use of above ground fires such as chimineas, fire drums, braziers are only permitted with the use of permits

NO Unless you have a Schedule 10 Permit from your local council. These permits are generally only issued for emergency purposes.
Can I use fireworks? NO

Private use of fireworks is banned.

Licensed pyrotechnicians may conduct public fireworks displays providing a Schedule 9 Permit has been obtained from CFS.

NO

Private use of fireworks is banned.

Licensed pyrotechnicians may conduct public fireworks displays providing a Schedule 10 Permit has been obtained from CFS.

Can I smoke cigarettes? YES

But:

  • You must not smoke within 2 metres of flammable bush or grass outside of a township (Penalty: $1250).
  • You must not throw a cigarette butt from a vehicle (Penalty: $500).
  • You must not drop or throw a cigarette butt where it will come into contact with flammable material (Penalty: $500).
YES

But:

  • You must not smoke within 2 metres of flammable bush or grass outside of a township (Penalty: $1250).
  • You must not throw a cigarette butt from a vehicle (Penalty: $500).
  • You must not drop or throw a cigarette butt where it will come into contact with flammable material (Penalty: $500).
Can I undertake harvesting activities? YES

Providing:

  • You have a shovel or rake and a portable water spray at hand.

Additionally:

  • all engine exhaust exits through the exhaust system, and
  • the system prevents the escape of burning material.
  • heated parts of the system are prevented from coming into contact with flammable material
  • the system is in good working order.

You should also follow your local Grain Harvesting Code of Practice available from your local council.

YES

Providing:

  • You have a shovel or rake and a portable water spray at hand.

Additionally:

  • all engine exhaust exits through the exhaust system, and
  • the system prevents the escape of burning material.
  • heated parts of the system are prevented from coming into contact with flammable material
  • the system is in good working order.

You should also follow your local Grain Harvesting Code of Practice available from your local council.

Can I use a bird scarer in my orchard? YES

Providing that:

  • the space immediately around and above the appliance is cleared of all flammable material to a distance of at least 4 metres;
  • the bird scarer is constructed to prevent the escape of fire or burning material;
  • the bird scarer is in good working order and clean so as to avoid a malfunction that could cause a fire;
  • the person using the bird scarer takes precautions to ensure that the bird scarer cannot fall over, or be knocked over or otherwise interfered with by animals.
YES

Providing that:

  • the space immediately around and above the appliance is cleared of all flammable material to a distance of at least 4 metres;
  • the bird scarer is constructed to prevent the escape of fire or burning material;
  • the bird scarer is in good working order and clean so as to avoid a malfunction that could cause a fire;
  • the person using the bird scarer takes precautions to ensure that the bird scarer cannot fall over, or be knocked over or otherwise interfered with by animals.
Advice: if the information you require is not on our website you may telephone the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline on 1800 362 361.

Why do I need to plan?

"By the time you smell smoke you have probably got five to ten minutes tops…the option to leave and waiting for smoke to come over the horizon is just way too late". Ian Hampel, Pinery bushfire survivor

What will you do in a bushfire?

Things you should discuss and decide with you family before summer starts

Plan now – get the whole household together and discuss these important decisions with your family.

  • Which Fire Danger Rating is your trigger to leave?
  • Will you leave early that morning or the night before?
  • Where will you go?
  • What route will you take – and what is your backup route if a fire is already in the area?
  • Who else do you need to consider, young children or elderly parents?
  • What will you take with you?
  • What are you going to do with pets, horses or livestock?
  • Who else do you need to talk to about where you are going?
  • Is there anyone outside your neighbourhood that you need to help or check up on?
  • How will you stay informed about warnings and updates?
  • What will you do if there is a fire in the area and you cannot leave?

Many people have died trying to leave at the last minute

Leaving early – what does it mean?

  • Leaving early means being away from high risk areas before there are any signs of fire
  • It does not mean waiting for a warning or a siren
  • It does not mean waiting to see or smell smoke
  • And it does not mean waiting for a knock on the door

Fires can start and spread very quickly. Leaving early is the safest option for anyone in a high risk bushfire area.

Where to go on fire danger days

Leaving a high risk bushfire area early, before a fire starts, is always the safest option for your survival.

We have identified places that can offer relative safety from a bushfire. For more information and maps of these places visit cfs.sa.gov.au./saferplaces

Bushfire Safer Places What is it?
BUSHFIRE SAFER PLACE

Adelaide Metropolitan area, outer suburbs and rural settlements. Use if you need to relocate early.

Suitable for use during forecast bad fire weather or during bushfire.

May be subject to sparks, embers and smoke.

BUSHFIRE LAST RESORT REFUGE


Ovals, buildings in rural areas. Use only if your plan has failed.

Not suitable for extended use and provides only limited protection during bushfire.

Create your own Bushfire Survival Plan in 5 minutes at cfs.sa.gov.au/5minutebushfireplan or complete the form at Your Bushfire Survival Plan.

Prepare your home and get ready

A well prepared home

  • Is more likely to survive even if you aren't there
  • Can be easier for you and firefighters to defend
  • Can offer more protection if a fire threatens suddenly and you cannot leave
  • Is less likely to put your neighbours' homes at risk

Five top actions to make your home safer

  1. Trim overhanging trees and shrubs; mow grass and remove the cuttings. A cleared area around your home can stop the fire spreading to your home and other buildings
  2. Remove material that can burn around your home e.g. door mats, wood piles, mulch, leaves, paint, outdoor furniture
  3. Clear and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home. Burning embers can set your home on fire
  4. Prepare a sturdy hose with metal fittings which will reach all around your home
  5. Have a reliable independent water supply of at least 5000 litres, such as a tank, dam or swimming pool. You will need a generator or diesel / petrol water pump too. Do not rely on mains water or electricity being available during a fire

More permanent measures you can take to protect your home

  • Block up areas where embers can enter the house
  • Install metal flyscreens on all windows and vents
  • Install metal gutter guards
  • Position gas cylinders on side of house and away from trees and gardens
  • Direct and cylinder pressure valves away from the house
  • Move garden beds away from the house
  • Replace wood fences with metal fences
  • Use stones or rocks instead of mulch in garden beds
  • Install wire-reinforced glass or a thermos plastic cover on skylights
  • Install a home bushfire sprinkler system that directs water over the roof, windows, doors and underfloor areas. All fittings should be metal as plastic melts. Ensure you have enough independent water to run the sprinklers and seek professional advice for design and installation

If you are constructing a home in a bushfire risk area you can find detailed information on the best options at sa.gov.au – Bushfire Regulations.

Before summer

  • Pack an emergency kit with essential items and keep it in a handy place
  • Scan important documents and photos onto a USB stick / external drive
  • Buy a battery-operated radio, powerful torch and extra batteries
  • Save important contact numbers in your mobile phone. Include family and friends and the Bushfire Information Hotline – 1800 362 361. Have a spare mobile phone that you keep fully charged for emergencies.
  • Set aside protective clothing (long sleeved, made from natural material such as cotton, sturdy footwear such as leather boots and a P2 mask) for each member of the family
  • Put woollen blankets in your car in case you get caught on the road
  • Mark your main routes, including backup routes and petrol stations on hard copy maps
  • Make arrangements with anyone you plan to visit or stay with when you leave early
  • Talk to neighbours or nearby friends about ways you can help each other
  • Don't forget pets. Make sure your pet containers are in your emergency kit or packed in the car

Pets, animals and horses

Remember to prepare your pets as well. Make sure your pet is wearing an identification tag or is microchipped.

Add the following items to your emergency kit:

  • Suitable transport carriers or leash
  • Food and drinking water
  • Any medications / vet contact details
  • A familiar item (toy, bed, treats) to help reduce stress

If you have horses, make sure you can move them somewhere else if they won't be safe on your property.

Your emergency kit

Important items:

  • Drivers licence / photo identification
  • Passport
  • Photos
  • Will
  • Jewellery
  • Insurance papers
  • Medical prescriptions
  • USB stick or file containing important files / papers Medicines and first aid kit
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Battery powered radio, torch and spare batteries
  • Overnight bag with change of clothes, toiletries, sanitary supplies
  • Adequate amount of water and food
  • 100% woollen blankets

Contact information:

  • Doctor
  • Council
  • Power company
  • Insurance company

On a fire risk day

What do I do on fire risk days…

  • If your plan is to leave early – leave
  • Watch the local conditions – stay up to date with where fires are located
  • Move horses and livestock to a safe area
  • Keep pets in a safe place ready to move
  • Pack personal items and put in car
  • Remove anything that will burn easily from around the house
  • Add final items to emergency kit
  • Pack the car – remember important items such as wallet, cards, keys, papers, etc.
  • Put car in driveway or on the side of road ready to go
  • Turn off the gas
  • Block the downpipes and partially fill gutters if you have time
  • Make sure everyone is wearing or has protective clothing – natural material such as pure wool, heavy cotton drill or denim and strong leather boots
  • Tell people you are leaving
  • Close and lock all doors and windows
  • Leave front gate or access gate open

Leave early – don't wait

Leaving late means you will be on the road when conditions are at their most dangerous or you may not be able to get out at all.

Where to find warnings and updates

  • Local news – Listen to ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations and watch Sky News TV
  • 1800 362 361 – Bushfire Information Hotline
  • Online – CFS Website cfs.sa.gov.au
  • Social media – Facebook: @Countryfireservice, Twitter: @CFSalerts
  • National Relay Service – Callers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech / communication impairment can contact us by calling TTY 133 677
  • 131 450 – If you do not speak English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service for translating information
  • In some circumstances
    • You may receive a SMS to your mobile phone
    • You may receive a call to your landline phone

The longer you wait, the greater the risk to your life

During a fire

Bushfires are scary and stressful. Understanding what to expect and having a plan about what you will do can help you cope if you get caught.

What to expect

  • Embers, spot fires moving ahead of the main fire
  • Smoke, heat, noise and darkness – this is before the fire hits
  • Lack of visibility, making it hard to know where the fire is, travel will be dangerous
  • Fires approaching from any direction (or two directions at once)
  • Burning embers landing around your property for hours before or after the main fire front has passed
  • Roads blocked by fallen trees, branches, power lines and emergency vehicles

The best way to prepare yourself mentally is to have a written and practiced plan that everyone in your household understands and has agreed to.

How you might feel

  • Confused
  • Unable to breathe properly
  • Tired and emotionally exhausted
  • Disoriented
  • Scared
  • Thirsty and hungry

Expect disruptions to services

Disruptions to telephone service, internet, mains power and water are common during a fire or on a fire risk day.

Don't rely on having mains power and water.

If the power goes out you will not be able to use:

  • Cordless phones, phones connected to NBN
  • Remote control garage doors, electric gates or similar devices
  • Computer and the internet, radio / TV
  • Air conditioners and coolers
  • Electric pumps

"The wind absolutely roared; smoke was heavy in the air and breathing and seeing was not easy." Kerri and Ian Huppatz, Black Tuesday survivors

Radiant heat can kill

Radiant heat is the main cause of people dying in a bushfire

  • Radiant heat is many times hotter than the air temperature
  • The front of a moving fire radiates up to six times more heat than its back
  • It can cause surfaces to catch alight, crack and break windows, allowing embers into the house
  • Bushfires radiate a more significant amount of heat than grassfires
  • Radiant heat only radiates in straight lines. It can be blocked by a solid object such as a concrete wall or building
  • Bushfires generate lethal heat
  • The hotter, drier and windier the day, the more intense a bushfire will be and will generate more radiant heat
  • It can cause injury and death from burns and cause the body's cooling system to fail, leading to heat exhaustion and possible heart failure
  • The best protection from radiant heat is distance

If you are caught outside in a fire try to protect yourself by:

  • Covering up exposed skin with natural fabrics like 100% cotton or wool
  • Being as far away as you can – distance is the best protection from radiant heat
  • Getting behind a solid object
  • Staying away from windows as radiant heat can pass through glass

The biggest killer of people in bushfires is radiant heat.

"People forget about the air vents and the roof. Hot embers can blow under your iron or tiles and quietly burn your house down when you think it's all safe." Ralph and Tracey Butler, Pinery bushfire survivors

The best way to survive a bushfire and avoid radiant heat is to leave early and be away from the threat.

How bushfires behave

Embers

  • Embers are burning twigs, leaves and pieces of debris
  • Embers are carried by the wind and land ahead or away from the main fire and can start spot fires
  • Ember attack occurs when twigs and leaves are carried by the wind and land on or around a building
  • Embers can land on top of debris in your gutters and set your home on fire
  • Embers can get in under gaps in your roof or the air vents and can set fire to your roof
  • Ember attack is the most common way homes catch fire during bushfires
  • Ember attack can happen before, during and after a bushfire

Wind

Strong winds are normally present during bushfires, the wind pushes flames closer to unburnt fuel and causes the fire to travel faster. Wind also dries out vegetation, making it more flammable, and bends flames over, allowing radiant heat to pre-heat unburnt fuel.

Wind has a significant influence on the:

  • Speed at which a fire spreads – the higher the wind speed, the greater the fire danger
  • Direction in which a fire travels and the size of the fire front
  • Intensity of a fire by providing more oxygen
  • Likelihood of spot fires caused by embers

Wind change

A change in wind direction is one of the most dangerous influences on how a fire behaves.

Many people who die in bushfires get caught during or after the wind changes.

In South Australia, winds are hottest from the north / north- west which is usually followed by a south-west wind change.

A change in wind direction can rapidly change the direction and size of the fire front.

Surviving if you get caught in a building

Only shelter in a room that has a direct exit to the outside of your home

If you are caught in a bushfire your best chance of survival is to shelter in a solid brick building.

  • Make sure you have two points of exit – including one direct exit out of the house
  • Most bathrooms are not suitable to shelter in. They typically have only one door which can make escape impossible if that exit is blocked by flames and heat
  • Most bathrooms also have frosted windows that do not let you see outside – during a bushfire it is important that you can look outside and see what is happening
  • Wear protective clothing, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts of natural fibres such as 100% cotton or wool. Wear sturdy shoes such as leather boots (not sandals or runners)

If your home is on fire, you will need to go outside to burnt ground if possible.

If your home catches fire while you are inside you will need to act quickly.

  • Close the door to the room that is on fire
  • Keep down low to minimise breathing in toxic smoke from the house fire
  • Move away from the areas of your home on fire, closing all the doors behind you
  • Do not get trapped in a room with only one exit
  • Move outside to burnt ground as soon as you can. Staying inside a burning home will almost certainly end in death
  • Wherever possible, try to put a solid object between you and the radiant heat from the fire
  • Drink water to prevent dehydration

If you are caught in a car

Sheltering in a car is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury or death. Always plan to leave early to avoid this situation

If you come across smoke or flames while driving – turn around and drive to safety.

If you must stop:

  1. Position the car to minimise exposure to radiant heat:
    1. Try to find a clear spot and park away from dense bush and long grass
    2. Park behind a barrier such as a wall or rocky outcrop
    3. Park the car to face towards the oncoming fire front
    4. Park off the roadway and turn hazard lights on. Car crashes are common in bushfires due to not being able to see the road clearly
  2. To increase your chances of survival:
    1. Stay in the car and close windows and doors tightly
    2. Cover up with woollen blankets and get down below window level – you need to protect yourself from radiant heat which will pass through glass
    3. Drink water to prevent dehydration
  3. As soon as you become aware that the fire front is close by:
    1. Shut all vents and turn off the air-conditioning
    2. Turn off the engine

If it's a fire danger day tomorrow…

  1. Fire danger day predicted
  2. Know your risk, check and follow your plan, stay informed
  3. Fire starts in the area
  4. Follow your written Bushfire Survival Plan, stay informed, stay alert

Months and weeks before

  • Know your risk
  • Prepare your property
  • Prepare yourself and your family
  • Prepare your kits
  • Prepare and practise your plan

Night before or early in the morning

  • Check the Fire Danger Rating
  • Remind everyone of the plan and check that they understand their role
  • Check your kit
  • Let family or friends know what you intend to do
  • Keep pets inside with sufficient drinking water and food
  • Move stock to well cleared area with plenty of drinking water
  • Check your pump and generators
  • Water garden
  • Block down pipes and fill gutters with water
  • Move flammable items away from the house; shut off gas at meter or bottle
  • Prepare water buckets, a torch and ladder ready to check the ceiling space
  • Prepare for the possibility that no power and / or no phone lines will be available

Daytime

  • Stay informed
  • Keep hydrated
  • If no fire, keep monitoring

If leaving early, pack car and leave now.

It may already be too late to leave safely

  • Let neighbours and friends know you are staying
  • Get into protective clothing
  • Turn on sprinklers
  • Shut doors / windows
  • Put tape across the inside of windows so they remain in place if broken
  • Watch out for embers
  • Prepare yourself mentally for the coming fire
  • Stay informed

Don't:

  • Stand on your roof with your hose: often more people are injured falling from roofs than suffer burn injuries
  • Waste water wetting down roofs and walls at this stage. Use the water only for extinguishing burning material

Through all stages of a fire, it is important to stay informed

Fire coming

Stay calm, check for embers, extinguish spot fires.

What to expect

  • Flying embers and sparks can light spot fires hours before the fire front arrives
  • Smoke will reduce visibility
  • You may be without power and water

What to do

  • Fight spot fires
  • Wet vegetation near your house with a hose or sprinkler (now that the fire is closer)
  • Shut all windows and doors and place wet blankets and towels around windows and door edges to keep out smoke and embers
  • Prepare inside your house (e.g. remove curtains, move furniture away from windows)
  • Stay close to the house, drink water and check welfare of others
  • Patrol the inside of the home as well as the outside for embers or small fires
  • Stay informed

Don't try to outrun the fire in a car. It is likely too late to leave and a car offers little shelter in a bushfire

Fire arrives

Seek shelter and actively defend from inside.

What to expect

  • It will be dark, and very loud
  • There will be smoke, embers and flames
  • Radiant heat is the biggest killer

What to do

  • Take all firefighting equipment inside such as hoses and pumps as they may melt during the fire
  • Move inside the house until the fire front passes. If possible shelter in a room that is on the opposite side of the house to the approaching fire and has two exits
  • Patrol the inside of the home – including checking the ceiling space for embers or small fires
  • Continue to drink water

Don't shelter in a dam, swimming pool, or tank – radiant heat and smoke can still damage your face, head and lungs.

A single fire front normally passes within 5 to 15 minutes, after which it may be safe to return outside and continue actively defending.

After the fire has passed

Actively defend your property, return home when safe, look after yourself and loved ones.

What to expect

  • Embers and spot fires are still a threat for many hours - even days - after a fire front has passed

What to do

  • Remember to put on any protective clothing you removed while inside
  • Go outside and extinguish small spot fires and burning embers
  • Hose down the house, paying special attention to the roof space, window frames and under-floor areas
  • Patrol the property inside and out, including the ceiling space and extinguish any fires. Sparks and embers will continue to fall and smoulder, so keep checking for several hours
  • Let everyone know that you are okay
  • Monitor the radio for updates
  • Stay with your home until you are sure the surrounding area is clear of fire
  • If you have left, make sure it is safe to return before coming home

Preparing yourself

Preparing yourself emotionally

  • How you plan to behave in a bushfire is even more important than how well you prepare your house for a bushfire
  • Think of yourself and your home as being at the centre of an onion; each layer around you needs to be Bushfire Ready
  • Have a detailed plan about when to leave, but have an equally detailed plan about how you will cope if you can't leave; how will you actively defend and shelter in your house, how will you get out if your home is burning down, and where will you escape to?
  • Have a detailed plan about how you will get to where you will be safe
  • Know where your closest Bushfire Safer Place and Bushfire Last Resort Refuge is located
  • Bushfire severity is an open-ended scale; while we can't say how bad it can get, we can decide the point at which it's no longer safe to stay. You should consider what your threshold is for your location and circumstances
  • Always make sure your plan is flexible, because your original plan may not be possible; if the wooden deck outside your front door is burning, can you go out the back door?
  • There is no guarantee that fire fighters will be able to get to you or your property, so you have to work on the assumption that they can't
  • If you're in a bushfire risk area, resilience is a constant process. Never sit back and think you're totally safe; always look for the things you can do to reduce your risk
  • Homes and things can be replaced. People can't

After a fire…

Survival is also about how well you recover in the days and weeks after the fire.

Returning home

  • Check television, radio, internet and other information sources to find out when it is safe to return home
  • Be careful travelling home: watch out for hazards on the road, such as trees that have fallen or service vehicles and personnel, who may still be working in the area
  • A fire can be selective, leaving one home untouched and destroying the next. If your home has been badly fire damaged and you need a place to stay, seek help from the local recovery centre
  • Bring another adult with you when you first return
  • Prepare mentally, have support and offer support to others during this time
  • Look out for potential hazards when you enter your home and wear protective clothing

"If people don't feel physically and emotionally ready to defend their home then the best place is not to be there." Ian Hampel, Pinery survivor

Bushfire 'Advice', 'Watch and Act' & 'Emergency Warning' Messages

Advice message

A fire has started. There is no immediate danger or the danger has eased. This is general information to keep you up to date with developments.

Watch and Act message

A fire is approaching, conditions are changing. You need to act now to prepare for the approaching fire front and protect yourself and your family.

Emergency Warning message

You are in danger and need to take action immediately.

You will be impacted by fire. This message will be preceded by a SEWS – Standard Emergency Warning Signal (a siren sound).

Advice – Reduced Threat

CFS will issue a Reduced Threat Message when the threat to the community has reduced.

All bushfire incidents that have had an Advice, Watch and Act or Emergency Warning Message issued will be finalised with and Advice – Reduced Threat message.

Emergency Alert telephone warning system

EMERGENCY ALERT is the national telephone warning system used by emergency services. The system sends voice messages to landline telephones and text messages to mobile telephones within a defined area. The message will provide information on the current emergency, what action to take and where to find further information.

Emergency Alert is not used in all circumstances, only at the highest threat level.

If you receive a warning message you are in danger and need to act.

Do not wait for a warning message before you act.

Additional resources and fact sheets available at cfs.sa.gov.au

CFS Regional Offices

Adelaide office
Level 7
60 Waymouth Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Telephone 08 8115 3300
GPO Box 2468

Communications and Engagement Unit
Level 7
60 Waymouth Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Telephone 08 8212 9858

Region 1
Mount Lofty Ranges / Kangaroo Island
75 Gawler Street
Mount Barker SA 5251
Telephone 08 8391 1866

Region 2
Mount Lofty Ranges / Yorke Peninsula / Lower North
The University of Adelaide Roseworthy Campus – Building F3
1454 Mudla Wirra Road
Wasleys SA 5400
Telephone 08 8522 6088
PO Box 1506, Willaston SA 5118

Region 3
Murraylands & Riverland
10 Second Street
Murray Bridge SA 5253
Telephone 08 8532 6800
PO Box 1371

Region 4
Mid North & Pastoral
3 Main Street
Port Augusta SA 5700
Telephone 08 8642 2399
PO Box 2080

Region 5
South East
46 Smith Street
Naracoorte SA 5271
Telephone 08 8762 2311
PO Box 8

Region 6
Eyre Peninsula & West Coast
32 Matthew Place
Port Lincoln SA 5606
Telephone 08 8682 4266

Contact the Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 (TTY 133 677) or visit cfs.sa.gov.au

Facebook: @Countryfireservice

Twitter: @CFSalerts

Website: cfs.sa.gov.au

Hearing or speech impaired?

Contact us via the National Relay Service (NRS) by calling (TTY 133 677) or through other contact options available at relayservice.gov.au

Speak and Listen NRS users Telephone 1300 555 727