As we head towards the tenth anniversary of Black Saturday a drive through our wide brown land is a timely reminder that bushfires are a constant threat.
At the weekend fire crews battled a blaze at Hepburn Springs , which was relatively small in size but close to the popular tourist destination – 300 metres from homes close. Residents were urged to evacuate, animals of all sizes found shelter in the homes and paddocks of caring locals, tourists left, shops shut. It was better to leave early than to risk the consequences.
It’s been the hottest January on record, setting us up for a tinder-dry February. The undergrowth in forests whose trees look green and lush is dry. A spark from machinery, a lightning strike, a cigarette casually tossed out the window can all lead to a runaway fire.
Staying informed about what to do when you find yourself in a bushfire is vital.
Emergency radio broadcasts covering the Hepburn area at the weekend repeatedly stressed key messages.
Leave early. Don’t try and stay to save your property. Leave that to the experts.
U-Turn to safety, drive away and don’t be a gawker.
Make sure you have a wool blanket in your car under which to hunker. If you’re caught out trying to leave get down below window level in your car. Turn off the engine.
And if you find yourself without an escape route, locate an open space, a plowed paddock or an area already burnt out without fuel to ignite a flare up.
As we head into more hot weather - and the likelihood of more bushfires - it’s time to review your bushfire plan. Those things most precious to you should be in a place ready to go, so that you’re not trying to gather them up as you leave. Scout out where pets - including horses - can go if you’re forced to leave. Make contact with friends and loved ones and set up contingencies for where to go if a bushfire breaks out near you. And make sure you know where you can get the latest information, including the Vic Emergency App.
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