Friday, 15 November 2013

Flood-Proof Friday - Bushfire Preparation

Get Ready Update

So far on the Queensland Get Ready action plan I have been instructed to 'like' the SES on my Facebook and to purchase or restock a first aid kit. I have attended to the first item and will shop for a kit on Saturday. My next weekly task in order to be ready for a disaster is to purchase a portable radio and spare batteries for my emergency kit. This is actually a really important request and one that we forget to do every year. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have power and internet or mobile phone access during a flood. Last year our local phone tower was damaged, and waters rose to the level of our powerbox so we had no power and therefore no communication with the outside world. That radio would have been handy then. So, it's the second item I will be shopping for this weekend, as well as a plastic box to store my emergency kit in.

How to Prepare for a Bushfire

I mentioned last week that we are at high risk of bushfire here at the moment. There have been several smaller fires already and we have a total fire ban for a minimum of two weeks. People have to be careful using machinery that can cause sparks such as angle grinders. As I was reading through some paperwork I collected at the Gympie Get Ready day, I realised that we have not made any preparations for bushfire nor do we have an evacuation plan in place. Some things the rural fire brigade suggested I hadn't thought of, so I have compiled the following list of things you need to do to prepare for bushfire. I am not an expert so I do suggest you visit your local fire brigade website or check out and prepare your own lists. This is a guide only, with tips I thought might be useful (hopefully never):

Prepare Your Home
  • Clear space around buildings
  • Clear and remove undergrowth
  • Fill any gaps in the eaves and around windows and door frames
  • Remove any fire hazards from around the house
  • Rake up bark, leaves and twigs - we rarely do this, so a fire could travel from our gumtrees straight to our home. I know what the boys will be doing this weekend.
  • Make sure you have appropriate water and fire fighting equipment - our dam is low and we need to check our fire fighter pump
  • Make sure your property has cleared access for a fire truck

What to Wear
  • Natural fabrics such as cotton denim or wool
  • Sturdy work boots (non metal caps) and a pair of wool socks to prevent burns to your feet and support your ankles - wool socks are not something we have in our wardrobe in Qld but it makes sense.
  • A wide brimmed hat to stop embers dropping onto your head or down the back of your shirt
  • Work gloves to protect your hands
  • A good pair of safety goggles
  • A smoke mask or a damp cloth (non-synthetic) to cover your nose and mouth from smoke and embers

Bushfire Survival Kit

As well as the items I listed for the flood emergency kit the Qld Rural Fire Service recommend the following items be included:
  • Mop, gloves, torch, hoses
  • Shovel, towels, buckets
  • Safety Goggles
  • Ladder - to climb away from fire
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Smoke Mask
  • Woollen Blankets
  • Knapsack Sprayer
  • Protective Clothing

What To Do If You Stay and Fire Approaches
  • Drink lots of water
  • Close windows and doors and shut blinds
  • Take Down curtains and move furniture away from windows
  • Block downpipes and fill gutters with water if possible - I would not have thought of this!
  • Wet down the sides of buildings and close shrubbery in the likely path of the bushfire
  • Turn on garden sprinklers
  • Remove garden furniture, door mats etc
  • Seal all gaps under doors and screens
  • Fill baths, sinks, buckets and containers with water
  • Have ladders ready to get to roof
  • Have generator or petrol pump ready

When we have a flood here, we all have our set jobs and know exactly what we need to do to get organised. Paul disconnects pumps and moves vehicles and we all pack up and move stuff upstairs. Where I have worked in the past we have had fire drills and there are set evacuation procedures, so I am working on implementing them at home and at my current workplace. It's not something to freak everyone in the house out about (I won't bore or scare the kids with the details), but it's something that I need to do to make sure I can protect my matter what happens. Hopefully we will never need to use this plan, just like disability insurance.

For more information on preparing for all types of emergencies visit Emergency Management in Australia.

Community announcement is now over :) Have you ever thought about having a fire plan at home?

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