Camping or 4wding in summer? These bushfire tips could save your life!

Camping or 4wding in summer? These bushfire tips could save your life!

My Jeep caught fire, now the bush is alight. What do I do?

Or maybe your Jeep didn’t catch fire (not likely) either way, it’s looking like you’re in a spot of bother and cornered by a fire. What do you do?

First up! Calm your shit

You’re gonna make irrational decisions otherwise. If you’re in the car make sure your windows are up, engine is running and air conditioner is set to recirculate. Turn headlights and hazard lights on. Drive to the conditions, if you go and get reckless, driving too fast through smoke you could end up in an accident or stuck.

If you can see where the smoke is originating; drive away from it

If you have a passenger that’s a decent navigator, get them to help direct you. Don’t wanna be taking the scenic loop road back around and straight into the fire. 

If you can't escape the fire, the beach is a pretty good bet to hide

If you can’t escape the fire, the beach is a pretty good bet to hide

There’s nowhere left to run, now what?

Find a spot that’s as clear of vegetation as possible. If you’re near the beach, go there! Point the vehicle toward the fire front. If you have a UHF in your vehicle, hop onto the emergency channel (that being 5) and put a call out with as much information on your situation, position, passengers etc…the emergency channel is often well monitored. Unless you can find a safer place to wait it out (I’ll talk about where these are in the “on foot” section) you’re better off taking your chances in the vehicle. Switch the engine off, keep those windows closed and get everybody down on the floor covered up with every blanket you have available, paying close attention to covering limbs. The fire front will usually pass in 5-10 minutes during a forest fire, or 2 minutes if it’s a grass fire.

I survived! Can I leave the car now?

Yes, you may! Be aware that after all that heat, certain parts of your vehicle are going to be melted and/or extremely hot. So wrap your hands in blanket when you touch the door handles! If you have access to water, take that with you. Wrap yourself in a blanket to protect yourself from radiant heat and keep sipping water. Remain near your vehicle as emergency services will find you quicker.

off-road-fire-survival-tips

I took a long hike and I’m surrounded by flame!

Same as with before, don’t panic! The fire is probably faster than you, but you have the advantage of a brain. Don’t run, use the brain instead. Never head up hill, as fire moves twice as fast on just a 10 degree incline. You probably move twice as slow on the same hill. If you do happen to be on a hill with a fire approaching; head sideways instead.

escaping-fire-uphill

While I do say not to run, it’s not a casual evening stroll either. Walk briskly and keep an eye out for falling trees or branches both near the fire front or in places where the fire has already passed.

So I’m walking, but what am I looking for?

You’re looking for at least an area that is clear of vegetation or already burned. Hopefully there will be a log, boulder, embankment or depression behind which you can hide from radiant heat; that’s the real killer. A dam, river, pond or the ocean is a great place to shield yourself, but a water tank or similar is not. That’s because essentially you’re putting yourself in a giant cray pot, you’ll be a seafood dinner in no time! Avoid swampy area’s too, some of the vegetation that grows in there could be surprisingly flammable!

Should I go full terminator and walk through the flames to safety?

Probably not to be honest. It’s kind of a last resort thing. But if the flames are under 1 metre high and you can clearly see whats on the other side. Should you happen to catch fire; remember the classic rule of stop, drop, cover, roll. That’s stop running, drop to the ground, cover your face, and roll to extinguish the flames.

The ABC knows how to survive by huddling in the water. The dog should jump in too though

The ABC knows how to survive by huddling in the water. The dog should jump in too though

Final words

While I have put a lot of time into compiling this post, I honestly hope it is never of any use to you! Being caught in such a situation would be absolutely terrifying. So do what you can to stay safe out there this summer!

Alex

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