I heard there was a bushfire in the blue mountains last week. Looks like fire season is upon us early this year. I have been lucky to not be directly affected by bushfires but it has been a close call a few times. I was a member of the RFS (Rural fire service) for 3 months (i kept failing the fitness test by 2-3mins, my little legs just couldn’t walk fast enough, so decided to leave, i was pregnant within two months so i guess it was fate :P). Especially with a baby in the house its important to get things sorted BEFORE a fire starts in your area. There are the basic things to do, clean the gutters, clear rubbish and garden litter away from your house. Cut the lawn. Then there are a few things that may not be top of your list. Make sure your garden hose reaches to the four corners of your property, buy an extension if you need to. If you live rurally try and create a fire break of at least a meter wide, this will slow down a fire and give you time to get away or defend your property.
With a baby in the house its important that you DON’T stay to defend your property. The temperature will get way to hot for a little one and you may have to evacuate on foot. Get out early is my advice. As soon as you hear there is a blaze nearby pack a bag and get to a safe place. Ask a friend or family member if you can use their house as a safe point before the fire hits, get a spare key in case they aren’t home when you need to leave. A few other points you may need to consider:
- Ensure you have enough fuel in the car to last a few days or a longer trip as pumps/ electricity may be damaged by the fire.
- Ensure any lawn mowers or other machinery that contains fuel are well away from the house. Some friends move theirs to the dam when a fire is close.
- Fill up containers of safe drinking water. water often goes brown or black with an impending fire and is not safe to drink which can be problematic for formula fed babies.
- Ensure you have enough formula and nappies for a few days away.
- Pack babies bag and have it on hand. Changes of clothes, bottles. water and nappies are all things that are handy to have if you have to leave at short notice.
- Have pets leashes/ cages near the door so you can grab them and go.
- Let friends and family know where your safe house is so they can contact you.
Something i learnt in the RFS is that you have to make a choice to make a stand. Flames of less than a meter in height, you can make a stand and defend against it. Flames higher than that are too fast moving and you need to get out. I also keep a fully stocked firstaid kit in the car and sturdy boots and gloves (mine are both are from the RFS so are fire and heat rated). These are in case you have to get out of the car to move fallen branches. Dont forget too that metal bucket handles can get VERY hot, use gloves if you or your partner are planning on staying to protect your home. Most injurys from bushfires occur from smoke inhalation and burns from grabbing hot objects.
And as a treat, here is me in my RFS out fit, i think i look rather cute haha I would highly recommend it to everyone i had a great time every training session, its so rewarding and everyone is so supportive and you do as much as your life and work let you. (Everyone offered to help me train to pass the fitness test, giving up their own time to get me through.) FYI The fitness test i believe is only in the ACT and is a 30min walking test. Not hard, unless you have short legs like me 😛