CREATE YOUR BUSHFIRE PLAN TODAY
What's your fire plan? You don’t have to live in the country to be at risk of fire. If you live near areas that have significant bush, forest, long grass, or coastal scrub, then you need to plan ahead for the fire season..
Not everybody thinks clearly in a crisis. By ensuring your fire plan is well prepared before the fire season starts will ensure you're well prepared in the event of an emergency bushfire situation.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Information sourced from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services Western Australia website.
Vegetation around your home like dry grass, leaves, twigs and bark provide fuel for a fire. This fuel plays a part in how hot a fire can be and how fast it can spread. If fuel is removed, the fire will starve.
Bushfires generate unbelievable heat. Much of this heat goes up into the air but significant heat also radiates at ground level. This radiant heat spreads the fire by drying out vegetation so it will burn.
Radiant heat is the main cause of people dying in a bush fire. Radiant heat may not set fire to your home but it can crack and break windows that will allow embers in. The best protection from radiant heat is distance.
Even if the fire front does not reach your home it can still be damaged by burning embers carried by strong winds. Embers can get into your home through gaps in roofs, walls, evaporative air conditioners, windows and doors. They can land on materials that easily burn and this can start a fire. Research has shown that ember attack is the main reason that houses catch fire during a bushfire. Embers can continue to threaten your home even after the fire front has passed.
When materials close to your home catch fire flames can touch the outside of your home. How long flames are in direct contact with your home depends on the amount of fuel to be burnt.
A bushfire needs air to keep going and the more there is the faster the fire burns. Strong winds not only force the fire along but also increase air circulation and provide more air. Any change in wind direction or speed can rapidly increase the rate of spread and the direction of the fire. The prevailing afternoon breeze in summer presents the most common threat as it fans bushfires when fuel is at its driest during the day.
Strong winds usually come with bushfires and as the wind increases so does the fires temperature. The wind pushes flames closer to fuel making the fire travel faster. Embers and other burning materials are also carried by the wind which can damage homes kilometres from the fire front.
Your Bushfire Safety Plan Should Include:
- Actions before the fire season
- Actions during the fire season
- Actions leading up to fire risk days
- Your back-up plan
Before The Fire Season Starts:
Your fire plan should contain this list of responsibilities and the person/s responsible.
- Clearing gutters of leaves and rubbish.
- Ensure underfloor areas are enclosed or screened.
- Seal gaps, vents and roof spaces to prevent embers entering your house.
- Store fuels and chemicals away from your house.
- Store LPG tanks appropriately. They should be vented away from your house.
- Move woodpiles away from your house.
- Remove any flammable items such as boxes, door mats, furniture from your decking / verandah.
- Clear up any flammable items around the yard including leaves, bark, rubbish and grass.
- Keep grass mowed and trimmed ensuring it's less than 10cm. Keep Green and well watered where possible.
- Remove any flammable mulch that's within 10m of your house. Especially near or around windows.
- Remove or trim any shrubs over 1m in height next to or below windows.
- Trim any overhanging tree branches around your house.
- Take photo's of your house, possessions and valuables and store offsite in case required for insurance purposes.
During The Bushfire Season:Make sure you include these in your fire plan.
- List names of relatives or friends you need to make aware of your bushfire plan.
- Determine who and how you'll monitor weather and fire conditions and fire danger ratings.
- Put together a bushfire safety emergency kit. Kit should include.
- Protection Clothing like jeans, hat, long sleeve shirt. All natural fibers and non combustible material.
- First Aid Kit.
- Food and Water.
- Medications and Toiletries.
- Change of Clothes.
- Wool Blankets.
- Safety Gloves to prevent smoke getting into your eyes.
- P2 Respirator face mask to reduce smoke inhalation.
- Battery operated AM/FM Radio with spare batteries.
- Battery operated torch/flashlight with spare batteries.
- Mobile phone chargers.
- Food for Pets, beds, any medicines etc. Read More
- List of doctors, dentists, hospitals, vets, utilities providers contact details.
- Documents. i.e passports, insurance papers, wills, birth certificates etc.
Note: Any irreplaceable items, valuables or documents could be stored at a family or friends places that live in a non fire prone area.
- Where will you store your emergency bushfire kit?
- What is your plan to keep your pets safe when it comes time to evacuate?
- Remembering they need to be kept cool and hydrated.
- Is your insurance policy current and do you have sufficient coverage?
Leading Up To A High Fire Risk Day:
Make sure you include these in your fire plan.
- Write down who will be home on certain days. I.e. weekdays and weekends.
- Where will you go if you decide to leave and how long can you stay there for?
- How are you going to get there?
- Know your way out and print up a map which shows / lists surrounding suburbs.
- Identify all exit routes out of your area.
- Consider all circumstances on the day. Do you have transport arranged? Plenty of Fuel in the tank?
- What's your trigger to leave?
- When will you leave? What will the traffic be like?
- Have you discussed this with your family to ensure everyone is aware?
- Does everyone have the same trigger?
- What's your local emergency radio frequency?
Your Back-Up Plan:
In the event where it's too late to leave you'll need to have a back-up plan.
- Where do you plan to shelter if it's unsafe to leave? Do you have a well prepared property or a neigbours property you can go to?
- Do you have a private bunker (that meets current regulations) you can shelter in?
- Do you have a designated neighbourhood safer place (place of last resort) in your area?
- If yes, do you know where it is and how to get there?
- An absolute last resort could be a stationary car in a clear area, a ploughed paddock or reserve or a dam or concrete inground swimming pool.
Note: Last resort items in your back-up plan will not guarantee safety or survival. If you're caught in a bushfire there is a very high risk of trauma, injury or death. Leaving early is the safest option. Leaving early means leaving before a fire starts and becomes uncontrollable.
For further details regarding fire safety in your home state, refer to the relevant websites links below. They should also have some handy templates and tips for your fire plan and safety kits.