‘We only had a minute to grab some things.’ ‘We had no warning.’ ‘There was nothing we could do.’ ‘We never thought it could happen to us.’
We hear these reports after every bushfire tragedy. And each one tells us that person, that family, did not have a thoroughly thought through bushfire safety plan.
There always IS warning: summer in Australia. There always IS something that could have been done: to be prepared. Bushfire danger can happen to anyone who lives, drives through or holidays in a rural area. Any bushfire, even the mildest, can be catastrophic when you don’t know enough about what to do. Don’t wait to prepare for potential bushfire threats. Plan thoroughly. Practice your plan. Be ready all summer.
YOUR ADVANCE BUSHFIRE WARNING IS THE WEATHER FORECAST. Whether you plan to evacuate, defend or shelter, be prepared as if for catastrophe every hot, dry windy day.
WHEN BUSHFIRE-WEATHER IS FORECAST:
Take small children, the aged and frail to pre-arranged safe area.
If you have a country property, go there to make it safe.
Move stock into prepared refuge area.
– DO NOT LEAVE THIS UNTIL EMBERS FALL.
Clear under the house of flammables.
Rake grounds clear of flammables.
Bring in outdoor furniture, hanging baskets and toys.
Move plastic pots from flammable walls.
Clear litter from forks of trees; strip loose bark.
Mow any long grass.
Bury rakings and grass clippings in mulch heap.
Check for loose tiles or roofing sheets.
Prepare protective covers for windows, air conditioner and vents.
Check that protective clothing (survival) kits have everything needed.
Connect nozzle-activated hoses to taps.
Attach pump to reserve water and test.
Fill troughs, stirrup pumps, knapsacks, garden sprayers, buckets.
Put throwing dippers, mops or wet bags in buckets, troughs, the bath, etc.
Place these around buildings at windows, wall angles, sub-floor, gaps, roof/ceiling space.
Set ladder, water-filled sprayers, and torch at roof/ceiling space inspection hole.
Clear the gutters. Block downpipes, fill gutters with water.
Set ladder against roof on leeward side.
If not already done, take precious possessions to a friend’s safe house. Or put in refuge room or hired locker. Or bury in a garden dugout.
FOR FULL DETAILS on thorough preparation for bushfire safety see The Complete Bushfire Safety Book and/or the handy ready reference, Essential Bushfire Safety Tips (CFA endorsed: ‘A book that certainly could help save lives within the community.’)