Hi <<First Name>>
Here we are! Six weeks later, and six steps closer to being ready for the Fire Season. This is the last in this series of emails - our team might need some tissues!
We hope you have had fun and above all we hope you have picked up some good bush fire safety habits - keep up the good work!
Have you ever heard these common quotes from people caught out by disasters?
"I didn’t think it could happen to me".
“My plan is to wait and see…”
And, of course:
(Little known fact- long cotton pants
can protect you from radiant heat and
embers, pitty about the rest of this combo).
Do I always need a plan B? Yes, you need a plan C too.
The dreaded 'What ifs'
But I’m never home on Tuesdays…
But we are minding the nephew on Saturday…
The car is at the mechanics until Thursday…
Life is all of surprises and has a habit of wrecking a good plan. All the work that you have put in so far in the Six Week Challenge might seem like a waste when you think about the What ifs. Absolutely not!
What you have learnt so far will give you the information you need to make plans with the rest of your household, family and friends. Not everyone will use a written plan, nor will everyone be able to stick to it. But do not underestimate the importance of taking that first step.
Discuss what you can do next to make a difference
Start by taking a look at how amazing and tidy your yard is after Week 3! It will be important to maintain that standard so why not add lawn mowing, leaf raking and gutter clearing to a chore roster? Put a name and day next to each of them. Own the job and be proud of how you do it.
Remember: A well maintained property stands a much better chance against bush fire. With or without anyone there to defend it.
TASK 1: Mud Map
Get a copy of a local map and mark the following things:
- The closest clearing to your house- a large, flat, open area without trees, combustible materials or structures.
- The nearest neighbourhood “Safer Place”.
- Where you will go for a short (a few hours) stay.
- At least two ways to get to your short stay place.
Things to think about
If you are leaving early, does that mean you are taking Nan and the goldfish to Aunty Jude’s in Penrith?
If your plan involves traveling the highway, consider leaving hours before a potential threat to your area or anywhere that may cross your journey. The Great Western Highway is quickly clogged with traffic and is met on both sides by dense bushland.
Mark on your map two more places you could go if the highway is closed or under threat.
The safest place to be is away from fire impacted areas. That means if the conditions are extreme or catastrophic, if you are not fit and prepared to defend your property, or you need to look after someone else – get out.
Go to the shops, go to a friend’s house. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way by waiting to see what happens.
Do you live in a long leafy dead end street?
Look for a place to go if your street is cut off by fire. Usually this is a well prepared house, with a good clearing around it. A large clear open area with short grass, bitumen or concrete or an already burnt area will give you some protection.
When the fire is approaching your area, it’s too late to get the mower out. Instead, bring in garden furniture, door mats, and clear paths around your home. If you can, fill bins and large buckets with water. If you don’t have gutter guards installed - block your gutter pipes and fill the gutters with water.
Get your emergency kits out and pack your grab bags.
If you are staying to defend, get your tools ready and talk about who will be going where and when.
If you are leaving, before you set out check for information about delays, disruptions or closures.
Does everyone have transport? If the car and driver are out will you be able to catch public transport, arrange a lift or walk?
Live Traffic updates
Public Transport Info NSW
Try to get Apps on your phone as well for updates on the go - but don't rely on them because during emergencies phone networks can become congested and go down.
Remember, leaving too late puts you at most risk.
Driving through smoke reduces visibility putting you, other motorists and emergency services at risk of collision or possibly in the path of a fire.
What will you do if you have left it too late to leave and now have to stay?
“It is not safe to do nothing” goes the saying. Seek shelter from radiant heat and flames; look out for fires starting around you and put them out while they are still small. The best defence is offence. (This is really why you have a cotton mop. It’s not just for the bathroom floor!)
As the fire front arrives seek shelter inside a well prepared house, look for exits in each room. Is there more than one way out - ground level windows or doors?
The structure will protect you from the intensity of the fire front. Don’t stay in a burning building; once the main front passes it will be safer outside.
Protect yourself against radiant heat and falling embers with wool blankets.
TASK 2: What are my triggers to leave?
Write down three things that would make you want to leave your home and three things that would make you feel safe to stay.
Remember the ones you wrote down in the second week? Have you changed your list?
In week one and two, we asked you to think about risks. When thinking about alternative plans run through these questions again:
1. Are you within a couple of streets of bush land?
2. Is there a history of fires in the area?
3. Are there many trees or shrubs around your property?
4. If you need to leave, do you need to travel through bush land?
5. Have you discussed your plans?
Go grab some popcorn
Don't panic! You need your wits about you to make decisions.
Below is a TV show link to check out about what happens when people are put under the pressure of an emergency. This one hour Catalyst TV special will give you lots to talk about and is a must watch!
Watch: "Don't Panic"
Open Day 2016
Leura First Sunday Markets on the 4th of September at Leura Public School is our annual Open Day. There will be an info stall, games and demos - fun for the whole family.
We will also be introducing the new format of Bush Fire Survival Kits- with mini workshops on the day.
Why not get involved and participate in one of the many Get Ready events hosted around the mountains- keep checking our Facebook page for details on future events.
You've made it to the bottom!
As this is the last email in this series we would like to thank you for your support and participation. This program has been a wonderful opportunity to develop our community engagement network. We appreciate the time you have taken and hope that we have given you some helpful insights and advice along the way.
Copies of these emails are available on our website.
We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or would like to be involved in any future workshops, email campaigns or events. We want to be part of a strong, connected and resilient community with you.
Sincere thanks from the Community Engagement team, Katoomba Leura Rural Fire Brigade.