Safety When in Fire

Extracted from my Essential Bushfire Safety Tips (CSIRO 2012),

Although data states that 2/3 of Black Saturday fatalities died while sheltering in or near their house, research by bushfire scientists revealed that they did not die BECAUSE they were sheltering. They died because they did not know how to shelter safely.

SO WHEN THE BUSHFIRE EMERGENCY MESSAGE IS “It is too Late to Leave, You Should Take Shelter and Stay Indoors” – WHAT SHOULD YOU ACTUALLY DO?


* Shelter behind a wall; beside a large fire resistant tree (that has no flammable undergrowth); in or beside a car; in a dam (if no vegetation is near either), in a ditch, (cover yourself with earth or blanket); crouch beneath a blankets (must be PURE WOOL) on bare ground or an already burnt area.


Before you go inside:

* Shut off gas and electricity at the mains.

* Put pets inside: dogs on leash, cats in covered cages.

* Take in outdoor furniture, doormats, hanging baskets, plastic pot plants.

When you are inside:

* Make sure all doors and windows are securely shut.

* Turn off air conditioners; cover their internal vents.

* If windows are unshuttered, cover with blankets (must be PURE WOOL), heavy quality quilts, foil or wet towels.

*Move flammable furniture away from windows.

* Close internal doors to limit fire spread if embers enter and ignite inside.

* Put on protective clothing and nose mask and drink often.

* Keep blankets (must be PURE WOOL) handy.

* Cool off when possible.

* Watch the conditions outside if possible through a small window or peephole. Do not open a door or window to look outside.

* When you are sure flaring shrubs have blackened, it’s safe to go out again. (Burning tree trunks do not generally emit killing radiant heat.)

* DO NOT SHELTER IN AN INNER ROOM. Not in the hallway. Not in the bath. If you shelter in ANY kind of inner room – no matter how many doors it has – you could be trapped. Embers may have ignited sub-floor or wall cavities or rafters in the ceiling space,. Flaming walls or ceiling could collapse on you. Toxic fumes from smouldering furnishings, synthetic furniture or wall linings could overcome you.

* STAY BY A DOOR THAT EXITS TO OUTSIDE in protective clothing and with blankets (must be PURE WOOL).

* It is vital for passive shelterers to exit as soon as the potentially killing radiant heat from fames has died down.


* Take hose, sprayers and ladder inside with you.

* Fill bath and troughs with water, immerse towels, roll up and place at door gaps and window ledges.

Plug keyholes with play dough, blue-tack or soap.

* Fill containers (e.g. garden sprayers) with water; put these, with dippers, mops etc, in each room.

* Watch for invading embers. Particularly in the ceiling space, through windows, gaps under doors.

Spray or hit with wet mop any sparks, embers or smouldering furnishings.

* If any ignition cannot be extinguished, close the door of that room.

* Maintain easy access to an exit door.

* Never go outside during a flame front to douse an outside ignition.


* Exit with great care, preferably from a door that is sheltered from the wind.

* Wear protective clothing and nose cover, cover yourself with your blanket (must be PURE WOOL), crouch, lower your eyelids and open the door gradually.

The quintessential bushfire survival resource is a HEAVY DUTY PURE WOOL BLANKET.

Covered with their blanket and with a flask of water people have withstood the most catastrophic conditions.

Extracted from my Essential Bushfire Safety Tips (CSIRO 2012),

(If you can’t afford to buy – most libraries have it.)

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