Bush Fires: Teaching Children About Summer Fire Safety.
This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.
While the cool change has been making a sporadic appearance around the country, especially in Victoria, we’re not out of the fire danger period just yet, and teaching our children about the dangers of bush fire and being fire ready is still a top priority’.
Living in rural Victoria after growing up in Melbourne has really opened my eyes to the dangers of bush fire and my knowledge of what to do has grown from non existent to being fire ready and prepared to leave if necessary.
And that’s a great thing.
What is even greater though, thanks to the CFA, I am able to pass that knowledge down to my children at a young age and have them fire ready and knowing what to do in an emergency too.
Teaching our children to be ‘Fire Ready’ is as valuable as teaching them to swim and here’s why:
MYTH: If you live in a residential suburban area you’re safe.
FACT: Even on the urban fringe you are at risk of fire. In strong winds, embers can travel up to 35 kilometres in front of a fire, starting new fires. People who travel or holiday in high risk bushfire areas are also at risk of bushfire. Even people considering a day trip should be prepared.
MYTH: CFA will be able to send a fire truck or come to my rescue.
FACT: If the CFA is fighting fires, they can’t be knocking on doors. It’s your responsibility to make the best possible decision for your family based on the current Fire Danger Ratings and official warnings for your area. It’s up to you to know when to leave.
MYTH: Winter has been very wet so there’s less chance of a fire in summer.
FACT: Rainfall fuels the growth of vegetation, especially grass, creating more fuel for fire. In years of wet weather, Victoria often sees an increase in the number of large grassfires. It only takes two weeks of hot, dry and windy weather to create dangerous fire conditions.
MYTH: If we do decide to leave early, we will be able to go to the local Neighbourhood Safer Places.
FACT: Neighbour-hood Safer Places are places of last resort only when all other plans have failed, and do not guarantee safety. They are sometimes just an open space (e.g. a football oval) with limited facilities. There isn’t a Neighbour-hood Safer Place in every community.
These are just a small number of myths that people talk about when sprouting knowledge about bush fires and fire safety.
The truth is simple.
Be prepared, know what to do and get out early.
Here’s what we have done at Chaos HQ to prepare our MonsterSquad of 6 children to be ready in a bush fire emergency.
1. The children are not left at home alone at this stage, so an adult is always with them, however we have told them that they need to be responsible and aware should we be running around, checking fire warnings, collecting paperwork and securing the property etc.
The most important thing we have emphasized to them is NOT TO PANIC. It will be scary, it will be a shock but when in panic we cannot think rationally and that is not safe.
2. Our older children have a younger sibling buddy to help out should anyone notice or become aware of smoke, fire or receive notice from an emergency service.
3. 5 out of our 6 children know how to access the CFA Fire Ready App on our idevices and have an understanding of our location on the map and how to proceed to further information. The older Monsters can also access that information on the internet and know how to tune in the radio.
4.We have briefed the children on what is important to pack should they have time to do so. Using examples such as “We need water, food and clothing to survive, but we can always buy a new Doll, Block set or Toy train”.
5. If time permits, we have taught the children to dress themselves and their buddy in long sleeves and pants, and to wear sturdy closed in shoes.
6. The children know how to handle the pets and what to do with them if we have be told to evacuate the property. For example, they can overturn a large plastic toy tub, and place the 3 cats inside, pop the lid on which will allow us to transport them to safety too.
7. A meeting point has been set up at both the front and the back of our house to escape the building should it be on fire. It’s always important to have at least 2 exit points in case one is not safe.
8.Listen. Listen to mum, dad, grandma, the neighbor, police, the CFA worker and so on. Follow direct instructions and get to safety.
9. Create your own fire drill at home and practice it regularly.
Practice makes perfect and will help eliminate panic should a real fire happen. It might not be just a bush fire. Role play and practice different circumstances like a house fire, shed fire, neighbors house on fire and so on.
Here are some other important things we believe your children should know:
How to dial 000
Their full name
Their Phone number
A relatives phone number
These things are essential in helping emergency service workers reunite children with their families in larger meeting points/areas.
I hope by sharing all this information with you, wherever you are in Victoria or in Australia, you too will be motivated to make a survival plan, and practice a fire drill in your own home.
Our emergency services are incredible but it is our responsibility as parents/guardians to train our children to know what to do in a fire and to keep safe.
To those families that have lost their homes, and/or love ones to bush fire in our region, my thoughts are with you all.
Be Fire Ready Today.