Your car CAN protect you from a grassfire; MAY protect you from a very mild forest fire; WILL NOT protect you from a fierce forest fire.
TRAVELLERS WHO HAVE DIED when confronted by grass fires would most likely have survived had they stayed in their cars.
Always carry a PURE WOOL BLANKET and nose filter for each passenger’s protection, and drinking water.
IF YOU PLAN TO EVACUATE by car realise that of you leave it until smoke is seen in your area, traffic will be slowed by others also leaving until threatened. Travelling in slow convoy. It only needs one carburettor to vaporise and all are stuck. The only sure safe time to leave is before there is fire activity in your area or anywhere near your route.
CAR REFUGE SAFETY depends on fire intensity, flame height, amount of vegetation, whether parked on clear ground or grass, beneath or away from trees, the distance of the car from flames, and whether the duration of flames themselves is less than 10 seconds.
GRASS FIRE FLAMES last 5–15 seconds (in the one spot) and the front passes quickly. So if a grass fire approaches you while travelling, you can be safe by staying in the car.
FOREST FIRE FLAMES can last five minutes (in the one spot) and for those who attempt to drive through fiery bush-lined tracks, the car can be death trap.
AS WITH HOUSES, cars burn down from the inside. When people die in cars they are killed by the fuel inside the car: fibreglass, hydraulic fluids, petrol, plastics, insulation, magnesium alloys, and toxins given off by them. Duco burns in 15 seconds on a car 4.5 metres from only 40 o, 3-metre high flames. Upholstery and trims can burn within one minute. The in tense heat inside the car forces people out – usually to their death from the radiant heat coming from the bushfire.
PETROL TANKS in good condition have miniscule chance of endangering you. They certainly won’t explode in the short sheltering time of grass or mild forest fire. Only faulty tanks have been known to explode.
FOR FULL DETAILS see chapters on protective travelling in THE COMPLETE BUSHFIRE SAFETY BOOK (acclaimed by all bushfire authorities) and/or its ready reference ESSENTIAL BUSHFIRE SAFETY TIPS (CFA endorsed).