Keep an eye on the weather for Brown Hill (as well as your own observation):
Tune into ABC BALLARAT radio 107.9 FM on high risk days
Before the bushfire season, it’s important to prepare your property and your family.
If you live in the older area of Brown Hill generally south of freeway
If you live on a bush block
If you live in a sub division, generally north of freeway
Wanting more information about bushfire risk?
Radiant heat can kill. You need to cover up, dress to protect yourself and take refuge form direct heat. In the past, people have been caught in bushfires wearing light summer dresses, shorts, singlets and even swimsuits. They usually die without the flames even touching their exposed skin. The real risks of bushfire are dehydration and heat stroke which can lead to unconsciousness and death.
If you put your hand near an open flame, an electric heater element or electric light bulb, you can feel the radiant heat it generates. Draw your hand away and the amount of heat on your skin decreases. Put something between your skin and the heat source and again, your skin immediately feels cooler. This is the key to protecting yourself from radiant heat in bushfires - distance and shielding protect you from dangerous exposure.
Bushfires usually occur on hot days. You and your family may be in shorts or swimsuits and bare feet and sandals. Remember, the deadly effects of radiant heat are increased by the amount of skin exposed to it. So as soon as you know there are bushfires in your area, cover up! Fire fighters wear protective gear to survive. So, should you. Source: What to do during a bushfire - La Trobe University
If a fire front approaches your property, it is vital that you seek protection from the radiant heat by going inside a solid structure. Your home may give some protection provided essential preparatory work has been done throughout the year. Radiant heat cannot pass through solid structures, so the best place to be as a fire passes is inside. Do not shelter from radiant heat inside your car, a swimming pool or a water tank - these do not provide adequate protection from radiant heat or smoke. Source: SA CFS
Cover up—put on protective clothing like long pants and a shirt, or overalls made from natural fibres, not sythetics. The suits firefighters wear are not simply a fashion statement. Even a woolen blanket is better than no protection. Source: Australian Academy of Science
Protective clothing is essential if you are anywhere near a bushfire. See video below. NOTE: A popular myth is to moisten or wet clothing or face masks. This may stop the item from burning, but is a serious burn hazard to a person’s skin because the moisture or steam from the wet fabric is much more likely to scold and burn a person’s skin than will dry material. Water at only 60 degrees Celsius, in contact with skin, is enough to burn it. Keep all protective clothing dry. The clothing helps shield the body from radiation and a dry mask will help reduce smoke and particle inhalation.
Source: SA CFS Fact Sheets
Footage showing what an ember attack looks like during a major bushfire. Footage from Canberra fires 2003 provided for use by CFA for community safety educational use courtesy Nine Network.
Understanding what a bushfire is like will help you choose whether to stay or go, and prepare you for the conditions you might experience if you choose to stay. Most bushfires that threaten homes burn on hot dry days with strong gusty winds.
If a bushfire is burning towards you on a day like this, it will become increasingly smoky and difficult to see, and your eyes may temporarily become reddened and sore. Breathing in heavy smoke may be uncomfortable.
As the fire gets closer, it will get darker and burning embers will begin to land around your home. The closer the fire gets, the more embers there will be.
When it gets close, you will be able to hear the loud roaring of the fire. Burning embers will rain down on your home and collect in corners and on flat surfaces. Electrical supplies may be cut off.
As the fire passes your home, the heat from the flames (radiant heat) may become unbearable, and you will need to shelter inside. By the time the bushfire has passed and it’s safe to leave the shelter of your home, the noise will have abated.
Outside it will be very smoky, and anything burning will be giving off a lot of radiant heat. This time should be used to extinguish any burning material that might ignite your home, and to continually check inside and outside your home to ensure it isn’t burning.
You will need to wear appropriate clothing to protect you from radiant heat and embers that will continue to fall for several hours. Fires look a lot worse at night than during the day, even though they are usually much milder at night. Source: Fire Tasmania publication
Homes burn down in bushfires for one of the following reasons:
Often homes only exposed to this ‘ember attack’ don’t burn down until several hours after the fire has passed. If residents are there, they can be defended successfully. Homes that are only subjected to ember attack can be defended by able-bodied people. Source: Fire Tasmania publication
The biggest threats to your home in a bushfire are burning embers and radiant heat. The defendable space you create will reduce the radiant heat to acceptable levels. However, you need to make sure your home is protected against ‘ember attack’, particularly if you’ve chosen to relocate when bushfire threatens.
Embers will build up on horizontal surfaces, particularly in corners. They can enter your home through small gaps in doors and window frames, eaves, cladding and roofing. Timber decks can be ignited, particularly if embers can build up underneath them.NOTE: A house will provide some protection from a passing fire provided that you are also actively defending the house from spotfires and ignitions in and around the house. A house will only provide short-term protection, it is not a “bunker”.
Small gaps should be sealed with protection strips or non-combustible filler, and larger under-deck areas should be protected with non-flammable screens. The most vulnerable areas of your house to ember attack are under flooring, windows and the roof cavity. Measures to ember-proof your home should be taken well before the beginning of summer.
If a bushfire is burning nearby and you’ve chosen to stay:
Source: Fire Tasmania publication
A guide to retrofit your home for better protection from a bushfire - CFA & Building Commission publication
Even if you plan to leave early the risk to your home can be lessened by undertaking the first 9 points before leaving.
Whether your intention is to leave or stay the preparation is still the same. The more you prepare the lower the risk to yourself; your family; your neighbours and your property. NOTE: A misconception is that you can prepare a house to withstand a bushfire a day or two before a fire hits. Bushfire preparations can take months. There will still be enough “jobs” to do on the day of a fire without all the other major preparations such as removing flammable material from around a house, cleaning the roof gutters, putting screens on windows, etc.
CFA VIDEO: Clearing up around your house in preparation for the fire season has never been so easy. Get on with it!
No matter what your initial intention is, at the time of an event circumstances can change rapidly and you need to have already thought through and added to your plan what you will do IF your plan A is not possible i.e. you planned to leave and the roads are blocked or you are advised to “stay in place” OR you planned to stay and defend but you find the situation too much to do so – what will you do? Where will you go? What will you take?
Preparing yourself psychologically or emotionally to cope with a bushfire is as important as the preparation of your home and surroundings. The Country Fire Service of SA have produced an excellent fact sheet that outlines the important aspects of emotional preparation for a bushfire event that residents need to consider. Access the CFS Fact Sheet here
Dr. Rob Gordon, a renowned psychologist and trauma expert, talks about disaster preparedness
This page has been prepared by Hazen, Brown Hill Community FireAware Network Coordinator