Monday, December 22, 2014

Furniture can encourage house destruction

FUEL REDUCTION IS NOT JUST FOR THE BUSH AND GARDEN.
YOUR FURNISHINGS ARE FUEL, TOO.
Inside your house needs its own hazard reduction.

The reason houses are reduced to a few centimetres of ash during a bushfire is NOT that the ‘sweeping flames’ of the bushfire have ignited the cladding  and moved inwards to consume all. The reason is that some of the contents of the houses have been ignited inside by the bushfire’s wind-blown embers and this internal fire consumed all.

What happens when an unattended spark or ember from bushfire is blown inside a house, is that it smoulders, flares, and fire spreads through furniture and furnishings, clothes and kitchen contents, papers and plastics and fly-sprays and cleaning fluids. If no-one douses those first embers, the fire moves through the house and structure until only ash and twisted metal remain.

Destruction of historic homestead Wolta-Wolta, South Australia
Be aware of which aspect of your house makes it most vulnerable to destruction:
Not the cladding, the contents!

DANGEROUS FURNISHING FABRICS:
Cotton, rayon, linen, and acrylic; the plastic coating of fibreglass fabrics; nylon, terylene, dacron and other synthetics; polyurethane foam padding; synthetic carpets.

PROTECTIVE FURNISHING FABRICS:

Pure, untreated, heavy quality wool; natural leather; good quality vinyl; good quality lino; tiles and slate floors. 
To find more on this topic see:
Essential Bushfire Safety Tips 
Most libraries have both.





Sunday, December 21, 2014

Don't wait to be told

On a  nasty, hot, dry, windy day today, any bushfire that starts will be nasty. 
Don't wait for one to happen near you. 
Don't wait to be officially told what to do. 
NOW is the time to put your plan into action: 
whether it is to evacuate, defend or simply shelter. 

A bushfire threat seldom arrives to a schedule. 
Any bushfire can be catastrophic when you don’t know enough of what to do. 
                            Those who plan to defend need to know how to do so safely.
Those who plan to evacuate need to know also how to shelter safely. 

SEE MY EARLIER POST  on The three core dangers to life -
1. Radiant heat
2. Smoke, toxic gases
3. Dehydration
Three core life protections -
1. Protective clothing. Pure wool blanket
2. Nose mask.
3. Drink, drink, drink


For everything to do with bushfire safety -
The Complete Bushfire Safety Book (Random House, 2000) has in depth details 
www.randomhouse.com.au/books/joan-webster/the-complete-bushfire-safety-book-9781740510349.aspx 
Essential Bushfire Safety Tips (CSIRO 2012) is the one-liner, dot-pointed ready reference  www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6969.htm

Friday, December 19, 2014

I have revamped my Bushfire Safety Awareness Facebook page.
Please Like and Share.

TRAVELLING SAFELY DURING BUSHFIRE WEATHER

Your car CAN protect you from a grassfire, 
MAY protect you from a very mild forest fire; 
WILL NOT protect you from a fierce forest fire.
Many travellers who have died when confronted by grass fires would most likely have survived had they stayed in their cars.
From 'Grassfires', Phil Cheney and Andrew Sullivan
Courtesy of CSIRO Publishing
If your petrol tank is in good condition there is miniscule chance that it could endanger you. It certainly won’t explode in the short sheltering time of grass or mild forest fire. Only faulty tanks have been known to explode. 
Car refuge safety depends on fire intensity, flame height, amount of vegetation, whether parked on clear ground or grass, beneath or away from trees, the distance of the car from flames, and whether the duration of flames themselves is less than 10 seconds. 
  • Grass fire flames last 5–15 seconds (in the one spot) and the front passes quickly. So if a grass fire approaches you while travelling, you can be safe by staying in the car. 
  • Forest fire flames can last five minutes (in the one spot) and for those who attempt to drive through fiery bush-lined tracks, the car can be death trap.
As with houses, cars burn down from the inside. When people die in cars they are killed by the fuel inside the car: fibreglass, hydraulic fluids, petrol, plastics, insulation, magnesium alloys, and toxins given off by them. 
  • Duco burns in 15 seconds on a car 4.5 metres from only 40 degreesC, 3-metre high flames. 
  • Upholstery and trims can burn within one minute. 
The in tense heat inside the car forces people out – usually to their death from the radiant heat coming from the bushfire.
Always carry drinking water and a pure wool blanket for each passenger when travelling in rural areas in the summer.
People trying to evacuate while a bushfire is in their area
can crash in smoke or be trapped by fallen trees.
The Complete Bushfire Safety Book and Essential Bushfire Safety Tips 
each have chapters on protective travelling during the bushfire season.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Taking Shelter Safely

WHEN THE BUSHFIRE EMERGENCY MESSAGE IS 
“It Is Too Late To Leave, You Should Take Shelter And Stay Indoors” 
WHAT SHOULD YOU ACTUALLY DO?

IF YOU CANNOT SHELTER IN A BUILDING
* Shelter behind a wall, beside a large bare-ground, fire resistant tree; in nor beside a car; in a dam (if no vegetation is near either) or crouch beneath a pure wool blanket on a bare or already burnt area.


IF YOU CAN SHELTER IN A BUILDING
BEFORE YOU GO INSIDE:
* Shut off gas and electricity at the mains.
* Put pets inside: dogs on leash, cats in covered cages.
* Take in outdoor furniture, doormats, hanging baskets, plastic pot plants.

WHEN YOU ARE INSIDE:
* Make sure all doors and windows are securely shut. 
* Turn off air conditioners; cover their internal vents.
* If windows are unshuttered, cover with pure wool blankets, heavy quality quilts, foil or wet towels. Move flammable furniture away from windows. (See Post December 1 What Renters Can Do, for ideas for emergency shutters.)
Wear protective clothing, nose mask, drink often, have pure wool blankets handy and cool off when possible
* Watch the conditions outside through a small window or peephole. When flaring shrubs have blackened it’s safe to go out again. Burning tree trunks do not generally emit killing radiant heat.


PASSIVE SHELTERERS
* Close internal doors to limit fire spread if embers enter and ignite inside.
* Stay by an exit door, in protective clothing and with blanket. 
* Do not shelter in an inner room. Not in the hallway. Not in the bath. If you shelter in ANY kind of inner room – no matter how many doors it has – you could be trapped. Embers may have ignited in ceiling space, sub-floor or wall cavities. Flaming walls or ceiling could collapse on you. Or toxic fumes from smouldering cushions or wall linings could overcome you.
* It is vital for passive shelterers to exit as soon as the potentially killing radiant heat from flames has died down. 


ACTIVE SHELTERERS
* Take hose, sprayers and ladder inside with you. 
* Fill bath & troughs with water, immerse towels, roll up and place at door gaps and window ledges. Plug keyholes with play dough, blue-tack or soap.
* Fill containers (e.g. garden sprayers) with water; put these, with dippers, mops etc, in each room.
* Watch for invading embers. Particularly in the ceiling space, through windows, gaps under doors. Quickly spray or hit with wet mop any sparks, embers or smouldering furnishings. 
* If any ignition cannot be extinguished, close the door of that room.
* Maintain easy access to an exit door. 
* Never go outside during a flame front to douse an outside ignition.


EXITING

* Exit with great care, preferably from a door that is sheltered from the wind.
* Wear protective clothing & nose cover, cover yourself with your blanket, crouch, lower your eyelids and open the door gradually.
(Extracted from my Essential Bushfire Safety Tips (CSIRO 2012), Chapter 21, 'What to do when bushfire threatens'.)


Post-2009 research by bushfire scientists revealed that although 2/3 of Black Saturday fatalities died while sheltering in or near the house, they did not die BECAUSE they were sheltering. They died because they did not know how to shelter safely.

Safely evacuating

If you want to evacuate be aware that the proportion of evacuated homes destroyed is far higher than those with defenders. 

Reduce the possibility of loss by ember and flame-proofing your home as much as possible before you leave: tightly close all windows and doors, shield windows, remove flammable plants from against windows and flammable cladding (pull them out if need be), mow grass, clear ground beneath trees, put outdoor furniture, toys, pot plants, mats etc inside, and cut back any branches close to the house. 

When you leave, dress in protective clothing, including wide brimmed hat and strong shoes, take drinking water & pure wool blankets. 

It is safer for your precious possessions to bury those you can in the garden than to take them with you.