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Comunity education tip March 2017
Fires are unpredictable and plans can fail. Having a back-up plan that identifies your shelter or last resort options may save your life if you are caught in a fire.
The following information will help you understand the different shelter options available. Your choice of back-up shelter options should be made with your personal circumstances in mind and suit the situation at the time.
If leaving a high-risk area is no longer an option, your planned options are not possible or you have no plan and there is threat of bushfire, you should be aware of what alternative shelter options are close by. Shelter options (not in any particular order) close by you may include a:
- Private bunker (that meets current requirements)
- Designated Community Fire Refuge
- Neighbourhood Safer Places - place of last resort
- Privately arranged place of shelter: these are private places of shelter arranged by individuals. They may include: a well prepared neighbour’s house or another building that is in an area of lower risk. Private places of shelter may not be safe in all circumstances. If you decide to use private places of shelter, you are responsible for assessing it suitabality, including whether the property can and will be defended if required.
If you are unable to find shelter in the above locations you may have to seek shelter in any available place such as:
- Ploughed paddock or reserve
- Body of water (beach, pool, dam or river). This does not include a water tank. Dams may not be reliable as their water levels fluctuate and they may be empty in summer
- Stationary car in a cleared area. Cars are a very dangerous place during a bushfire. They offer very little protection from radiant heat.
- Learn how to protect yourself if caught in the car.
- While such places may provide a degree of safety, they do not offer good protection from radiant heat or other dangers. They are likely to involve high-risk of physical and mental trauma, injury or death.
It is important to understand that traveling to or sheltering in some of these locations does not guarantee your safety.
If sheltering in a building during a bushfire, make sure you have a point of exit in every room used as a shelter. Do not shelter in the bathroom as it typically has only one door out and a small window that is often frosted. In a bushfire, it is critical to maintain visibility to know what is happening outside with the fire.
Other last resort options
“Given the high likelihood of death or serious injury in such situations, it is critical that you understand the need to do everything possible to avoid having to use these last resort options!”