Is Your Family Prepared? What can you learn together today to help you in the future?
In the summer of 2019/2020, Australia is in the midst of some of the worst fire conditions with low humidity, high winds, and large fuel loads on the ground. Every other bush fire victim who has lost everything say, “you never think it will happen to you”.
Here are a list of resources and suggestions on what we should all know about bush fires and how to be prepared. Use these resources to create a unit study appropriate for your family’s circumstances. There are so many home educating families who have already lost their homes or are in the path of oncoming fire grounds. The Ed Consult family is in the same position. Ed Consult has decided to learn what we need to know so that we can make the difficult decisions; do we stay and defend or do we evacuate and is evacuation even possible?
We can all use this summer period to teach our children what we all need to know to be able to cope with the harsh Australian environment.
Where to find information
- Digital Earth Hot Spots is a satellite view of Australia measuring hot areas which could be fires. This is constantly refreshed and has a wealth of information to help your family track which direction the fire is heading.
- My Fire Watch Alerts are a list of incidents across Australia
- NSW Rural Fire Service provides detailed information that is updated several times a day for each active fire in NSW and the ACT.
- Country Fire Authority for information in Victoria
- South Australian Country Fire Service click here for a link to the alert App for Apple phones.
- Tasmanian Fire Service
- Queensland Rural Fire Service
- NT Fire and Rescue Service
- Emergency Western Australia
- Download the Fires Near Me app from your app store to stay informed for NSW and ACT residents.
- Grass Fire Danger Index (FDI) Map of SA
- As weather plays such a vital role in fire management, help your kids get comfortable with reading the Bureau of Meteorology weather patterns and maps and to learn what a pyrocumulonibus cloud is.
- Ventusky provides a visual representation of meteorological data anywhere in the world.
- ABC BTN (Behind The News) has created an Australian Curriculum linked activity called “Bushfire Escape”.
- This page by the NSW Rural Fire Service has a wealth of links for fire related information.
- Click here to find youtube videos for education again provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service.
- Here is a page to create a bushfire survival plan by the Rural Fire Service NSW that can be used by all Australians.
- The Bushfire CRC has produced an ebook for parents on how to talk to children about bushfire preparation and safety. The ebook, “Making a bushfire plan? Involve your kids!” is based on the PhD research of Briony Towers from RMIT University. Here is a link to it’s download page:
- ABC Education has a wide range of materials.
- A Resource for younger children
- From Victorian bushfire education
What if we do choose to stay and defend our home? What does that look like?
Firstly, make sure you have a radio with batteries and take some cash out of the ATM. There are large areas of the south coast of NSW that are without power and will remain so for the foreseeable future which has meant no internet, and no EFTPOS to purchase supplies without cash. If you no longer have access to mobile wifi internet, tune into your local ABC radio channel to keep up to date with the local information. See here for a link to your local ABC frequency.
Below is an excerpt from Joan Webster OMA Essential Bush Fire Safety Tips
“Although data states that 2/3 of Black Saturday  fatalities died while sheltering in or near their house, research by bushfire scientists revealed that they did not die BECAUSE they were sheltering. They died because they did not know how to shelter safely.
SO WHEN THE BUSHFIRE EMERGENCY MESSAGE IS “It is too Late to Leave, You Should Take Shelter and Stay Indoors”.
WHAT SHOULD YOU ACTUALLY DO IF YOU CANNOT SHELTER IN A BUILDING?
- Shelter behind a wall; beside a large fire resistant tree (that has no flammable undergrowth); in or beside a car; in a dam (if no vegetation is near either), in a ditch, (cover yourself with earth or blanket); crouch beneath a blankets (must be PURE WOOL) on bare ground or an already burnt area.
- people have withstood the most catastrophic conditions.
IF YOU CAN SHELTER IN A BUILDING – Before you go inside:
- Shut off gas and electricity at the mains.
- Put pets inside: dogs on leash, cats in covered cages.
- Take in outdoor furniture, doormats, hanging baskets, plastic pot plants.
- When you are inside:
- Make sure all doors and windows are securely shut.
- Turn off air conditioners; cover their internal vents.
- If windows are unshuttered, cover with blankets (must be PURE WOOL), heavy quality quilts, foil or wet towels.
- Move flammable furniture away from windows.
- Close internal doors to limit fire spread if embers enter and ignite inside.
- Put on protective clothing and nose mask and drink often.
- Keep blankets (must be PURE WOOL) handy.
- Cool off when possible.
- Watch the conditions outside if possible through a small window or peephole. Do not open a door or window to look outside.
- When you are sure flaring shrubs have blackened, it’s safe to go out again. (Burning tree trunks do not generally emit killing radiant heat.)
PASSIVE SHELTERERS – This is what the children should be doing.
- DO NOT SHELTER IN AN INNER ROOM. Not in the hallway. Not in the bath. If you shelter in ANY kind of inner room – no matter how many doors it has – you could be trapped. Embers may have ignited sub-floor or wall cavities or rafters in the ceiling space,. Flaming walls or ceiling could collapse on you. Toxic fumes from smouldering furnishings, synthetic furniture or wall linings could overcome you.
- STAY BY A DOOR THAT EXITS TO OUTSIDE in protective clothing and with blankets (must be PURE WOOL).
- It is vital for passive shelterers to exit as soon as the potentially killing radiant heat from flames has died down.
ACTIVE SHELTERERS – These are the people defending their property.
- Take hose, sprayers and ladder inside with you.
- Fill bath & troughs with water, immerse towels, roll up and place at door gaps and window ledges. Plug keyholes with play dough, blue-tack or soap.
- Fill containers (e.g. garden sprayers) with water; put these, with dippers, mops etc, in each room.
- Watch for invading embers. Particularly in the ceiling space, through windows, gaps under doors. Spray or hit with wet mop any sparks, embers or smouldering furnishings.
- If any ignition cannot be extinguished, close the door of that room.
- Maintain easy access to an exit door.
- Never go outside during a flame front to douse an outside ignition.
- Exit with great care, preferably from a door that is sheltered from the wind.
- Wear protective clothing & nose cover, cover yourself with your blanket (must be PURE WOOL), crouch, lower your eyelids and open the door gradually.
- The quintessential bushfire survival resource is a HEAVY DUTY PURE WOOL BLANKET.
- Covered with their blanket and with a flask of water people have withstood the most catastrophic conditions.”
Let’s prepare our children now for when they grow up and are defending their own families in the future. Take care.
Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.