Bushfire safety travel tips
Summer is the perfect season to explore the great outdoors. With thousands of holiday makers planning trips to bushfire prone locations, Fire Authorities have issued some timely advice on how you can stay safe this summer.
If you plan to travel to an area that may be subject to bushfire there are some simple steps that you should have in place. In the event of a fire it's important to be prepared, to stay informed and be ready to leave when you need to. Be prepared to change your travel plans to remove yourself and your caravan from imminent danger.
Before you travel
A basic emergency kit is an essential item to have in your car at all times. Make sure it includes:
- Portable radio
- Extra mobile phone and charger
- Hard copy maps
- Lots of bottled water
- A woolen blanket
Check that your caravan has a smoke alarm and fire extinguisher that works, and a fire blanket. Ensure that electrical and gas equipment is secure, in good working order, and turned off while travelling.
Check the local weather conditions at your destination before you leave and make sure you have a few ways to check Fire Danger Ratings and Bush Fire Alerts along the way. Also, be vigilant and keep an eye on conditions outside - you may be aware of a fire before the emergency services. Listen to local radio, TV news, and social media to get up to date reports on any fire activity.
Always take the advice of fire authorities. If they advise you not to travel to some areas then heed their warning. Bushfires can start suddenly, move quickly and affect large areas. Late evacuation is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury or death.
Always let friends and family know of your travel plans and keep them posted on your trip. It's very reassuring for them to know that you're safe, particularly when they hear of a bushfire in the region you may be travelling in.
At the campsite
Caravan parks around Australia will have a bushfire safety plan, so on arrival ask for a copy and familiarise yourself with the details. In the event of a fire, follow the Caravan Park Manager's directions for a safe and orderly evacuation.
Get to know alternative routes to leave your destination, along with the nearest bushfire safety place, meeting point or evacuation centre and how to get there.
Remember before lighting a fire or using a barbeque check whether there is a Total Fire Ban in force - no fires can be lit in the open during days of Total Fire Ban. If you are able to light a fire remember the following tips:
- Place fires and barbeques away from any flammable materials, on an existing fire site or cleared area, taking into consideration the direction of the wind.
- Fires should always be attended by an adult.
- Have a water supply available to extinguish the fire if necessary.
- Remember to check that all fires/barbeques are extinguished or turned off after use.
- You should always apply the rule - cool to touch, safe to leave.
If you're caught in a fire
If you see a bushfire in the distance, pull over to the side of the road and assess the situation. If it is safe to do so turn around and drive away from the smoke.
If you're unable to turn around and drive to safety, a car offers more protection from radiant heat than being caught on foot in the open. If you're in a car and become caught in a grassfire, don't get out and run.
What to do if your car is trapped by a bushfire
- Call ‘000' emergency services.
- Park off the road in a clear area away from trees.
- Face your car towards the fire.
- Stay inside your car and get down below the windows to protect yourself from radiant heat.
- Turn off the engine and turn on the headlights and hazard warning lights to make the car as visible as possible.
- Close the doors and windows.
- Shut all the air vents and turn the air conditioning on to 'full' and 'recirculate'.
- Drink water to minimise the risk of dehydration.
- Lie on the floor and cover your body with any available woolen or cotton blankets or cloth.
- Do not get out or open windows until the fire front has passed.
Australian summers can be quite unpredictable, so it's important to plan ahead for the unexpected. Enjoy your travels and remember to always put your safety first.
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