Do You Have A Fire Evacuation Plan?

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The fact that no properties were damaged or lost in the recent fires is a true credit to the tremendous efforts of the Lennox Head Rural Fire Service and volunteers who came together over those difficult few days.  It is wonderful to see the outpouring of community support, acknowledgement and gratitude for everyone involved.

Sadly, at the same time further south in NSW the close knit community of Carwoola (east of Queenbeyan) was facing a very different story.

After two days of intense firefighting, crews there finally managed to contain a blaze that had torn through 3,500 hectares.  56 homes were saved, however 11 homes were destroyed.  12 others were damaged and 45 outbuildings were destroyed.

In this incident two firefighters were injured and one senior firefighter lost his own home while defending others.

Only a week before this, in central west NSW another fire had burned through 52,000 hectares destroying 32 homes.

Whilst our community is united in gratitude and relief, right now others nearby are coming together to support those amongst them facing unimaginable loss and grief.

Although it is still relatively unlikely that most people will ever have to face or experience sudden home loss, due to increasingly extreme weather and natural disasters, the reality is we are we exposed to potential home loss at unprecedented levels.

We can no longer afford to be complacent and think ‘it wont happen to me’. 

Most people are now familiar with the idea of a ‘Bushfire Survival Plan’, but have you actually taken time out to discuss with your family what you would do in event of a fire?  What is your plan if you suddenly had to evacuate?  If you don’t have a plan…can you take 20mins today to sit down and make one?  The NSW Rural Fire Service has a downloadable guide on their website that outlines a four step process to being prepared.

As well as taking these practical steps, it can be helpful to regularly reflect on what your home offers you, beyond just physical shelter.  Take time to look around and appreciate what you so often take for granted.  Cherish what you DO have and spare a thought for those who would give anything to be able to look around their home just one more time…

Fire Escape Plan tips from the Fire NSW government page:

Draw your escape plan now!

The Fire & Rescue NSW has created a page that you can print, draw your escape plan on and when complete place somewhere prominent in your household to keep fresh in your mind (for example, on your fridge). Everyone in your household should discuss and agree about what actions should be taken if a fire was to occur.

Remember

  • Plan and practice your plan.
  • If your home catches fire: STAY LOW, GET OUT and STAY OUT!
  • If your clothes catch fire: STOP, DROP, COVER and ROLL until the flames are extinguished.

Security bars

Security bars require special precautions. Security bars can trap you in a fire. Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately.

Tips on Home Fire Escape Plans

  • Draw a floor plan of your home.
  • Draw your escape plan on paper and discuss your escape plan with other occupants.
  • Make sure that windows and screens can be easily opened.
  • Provide alternatives for anyone with a disability.
  • Decide on a safe outside meeting place eg. near the letterbox.
  • Once you get out, STAY OUT, never go back inside a burning building.
  • Practice your plan at least twice a year, making sure that everyone is involved.

Tip

Never open doors that are hot to the touch. To make sure that fire is not on the other side use the back of your hand to feel a closed door. If it feels hot, use your alternate escape route.

2 Responses

  1. Lavender. (Not Kate Lavender please!)

    G’day Helen,
    It’s great that you wrote about the fires here and elsewhere. Yes our firies do a magnificent job and I’m always aware of the tremendous effort they put in above and beyond their job descriptions.

    Re fire evacuation plans: yes it’s imperative to have one, and it’s sensible, even life-saving, for people to work out one for their home. After big fires each year we hear survival stories of those who took the time to discuss and devise their plans.

    May I suggest that you ask people with relevant experience to write about that? For a start a list of what to do for safety, how to stay informed about progress/ threats of fires, what property to pack up before notified of “leave your home” directions. In a rush it will be hard to think further than putting the cat in a carrrier box, grabbing hard discs, photo albums and granny’s medications. So advice re suitable clothing (thongs & shorts are high risk), a must-preserve
    -property check list and relevant information sources would be a start.
    And of course we always hope that our preparations won’t be put to the test.

    Reply
    • Helen Fry

      Thanks Lavender, very good point. I have added some advice from the NSW Government Fire service page, which provides comprehensive advice on how to develop a Fire evacuation plan and a whole lot of other very useful information. Of course people should always listen to the officials and follow instructions and advice in the event that they or their house is threatened by fire. Thanks for the feedback.

      Reply

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