Mr McLennan put house survival down to a cool head and luck. A ‘cool head’ only comes from preparation. From having a thorough and frequently practiced plan, and thorough, frequently maintained preparation of house and grounds.
The instances Mr McLennan cited as ‘bad luck’: house situated on sloping land, a falling tree branch breaking the roof, are not matters of luck. There is a great deal householders can do in safety preparation in these areas, as other scientists have found in their research, and as I have detailed in my recently released, updated 3rd edition of Essential Bushfire Safety Tips .
Mr McLennan warned: ‘staying and defending is chancy’. So is going. Historically, far more people have died evacuating than defending. Some days, those wanting to evacuate safely by leaving 'early' find it almost impossible to work out when this is. For one thing, no one ever knows where on a bad day, a bushfire will start, and if it does, when. Many bushfires are started at night, by lightning. It may start in the paddock next door, seem unthreatening, then flare up and endanger your house.
Leaving your home, with all its precious possessions to burn undefended, is chancy. Many who did so on Black Saturday are still living in cramped temporary accommodation. Many who thoroughly prepared their properties – and minds – are still living in their loved homes today because they did prepare; and many have written that it was the use of my bushfire safety books that enabled them to do so.