Friday, December 19, 2014


Your car CAN protect you from a grassfire, 
MAY protect you from a very mild forest fire; 
WILL NOT protect you from a fierce forest fire.
Many travellers who have died when confronted by grass fires would most likely have survived had they stayed in their cars.
From 'Grassfires', Phil Cheney and Andrew Sullivan
Courtesy of CSIRO Publishing
If your petrol tank is in good condition there is miniscule chance that it could endanger you. It certainly won’t explode in the short sheltering time of grass or mild forest fire. Only faulty tanks have been known to explode. 
Car refuge safety depends on fire intensity, flame height, amount of vegetation, whether parked on clear ground or grass, beneath or away from trees, the distance of the car from flames, and whether the duration of flames themselves is less than 10 seconds. 
  • Grass fire flames last 5–15 seconds (in the one spot) and the front passes quickly. So if a grass fire approaches you while travelling, you can be safe by staying in the car. 
  • Forest fire flames can last five minutes (in the one spot) and for those who attempt to drive through fiery bush-lined tracks, the car can be death trap.
As with houses, cars burn down from the inside. When people die in cars they are killed by the fuel inside the car: fibreglass, hydraulic fluids, petrol, plastics, insulation, magnesium alloys, and toxins given off by them. 
  • Duco burns in 15 seconds on a car 4.5 metres from only 40 degreesC, 3-metre high flames. 
  • Upholstery and trims can burn within one minute. 
The in tense heat inside the car forces people out – usually to their death from the radiant heat coming from the bushfire.
Always carry drinking water and a pure wool blanket for each passenger when travelling in rural areas in the summer.
People trying to evacuate while a bushfire is in their area
can crash in smoke or be trapped by fallen trees.
The Complete Bushfire Safety Book and Essential Bushfire Safety Tips 
each have chapters on protective travelling during the bushfire season.