Friday, January 4, 2013

Anyone who has not already cut any long grass around or near their house and outbuildings should do that now, if it is safe to do so. Put stock in a fallow or lucern paddock. Bring pets indoors. Put water, sprayers, buckets, mops, by vulnerable areas. Close windows and doors and put draft stoppers at them. Close shutters if you have them - even temporary shutters of heavy duty foil or a 'sandwich' of insulation batts between galvanised iron sheets will help greatly. Move flammable furnishings away from windows. Bring in flammable outdoor furniture. Close car windows. Park in non-flammable area.

Have protective clothing, nose cover handy and pure wool (NOT SYNTHETIC) blankets. 

Back up computer on external hard drive or USB stick. If precious possessions haven’t been ‘boarded out’ for summer, cover with heavy aluminium foil or bury them.

The great danger to people from bushfire is its radiant heat. Radiant heat cannot penetrate a solid substance, or bend around things. Shelter behind any solid substance will prevent its radiant heat from reaching you. 

Evacuees should have left by now. Before you go, make your house as closed tight as possible. When in doubt, don’t go: shelter safely. A big problem with relying on any shelter away from home is how to get there safely. The best ‘shelter of last resort’ is a pure wool blanket.

Passive shelterers must stay near an exit door.

Flying embers, not how close flames are, is what endangers houses and trevallers. Embers can fly 100 m ahead of grass, 2.5 km ahead of pine trees, 8 km ahead of a eucalypt forest, and firebrands of stringy- and candle-bark 35 km when there is a convection column. The shower of embers can arrive half an hour before the fire front. And can keep falling for four hours after the main fire has passed.

There are three core needs for home protection: Fuel reduction around house. Ember resistant structure. People with thorough knowledge of how to act safely. 

There are three core vulnerable areas of a house: Ceiling space. Windows. Subfloor. Houses burn down from the inside when embers are blown inside. 

Flames can be stopped in their tracks by thinning vegetation around your home. Flames can’t burn what you’ve cut back. It can’t burn bare earth or gravel paths. It can’t burn trees if there’s nothing growing under it.

Defenders, don’t waste energy and water by wetting house or turning on sprinklers before embers fall. Then concentrate on dousing embers. Put water on a burning substance, not its flames. Don’t go near bush to fight flames.

Fire authority advice that ‘No house can withstand a fire in Code Red conditions, so defending your home is impossible’ IS NOT TRUE - many, many homes were saved on Black Saturday and Ash Wednesday. Vacated houses are odds-on to burn. Every burning house sends off its own embers to ignite more houses.

Houses can’t explode from the heat of an approaching bushfire.
A house can’t ignite spontaneously. Flames can’t ignite cladding from a distance. Radiant heat can’t ignite cladding from a distance.
A true fireball can’t ignite a house or cause it to explode.

A car is a safe refuge in a grass fire. It can be a safe refuge in a mild fire. It is seldom a safe refuge in an intense forest fire. If a grassfire approaches while you are driving, stay in the car!!! Do not try to run from it.

Essential Bushfire Safety Tips takes you step by step through every aspect of bushfire safety. Both it and The Complete Bushfire Safety Book have helped people + and homes to stay safe on the worst days.