THE powers that be have given us fair warning that fire season this year is likely to be brutal and we should not only prepare our properties from potential disaster by keeping our grass short and our yards tidy but also have a “what if” plan.
There is science behind these warnings, especially since a research paper released last week announced that European scientists had developed a weather prediction system showing that everywhere in the world can expect the years from 2018 to 2022 to be abnormally hot.
That means more heat waves and more fires and experts here say it is particularly bad news for Australia, where many areas can no longer rely on rain as a protective influence. Suddenly the global warming issue has become local and it seems we can no longer look at it as a problem for future generations.
This makes having a personal exit strategy in case of fire a bit more sensible.
The starting point, say experts, is making a firm decision about when to stay and protect your property and when to just leave your stuff and get out of the potential danger zone. Do you wait until you see flames or smell smoke or do you rely on the local firies or Facebook to tell you when it really is time to up stumps and go?
Even if you have a long list of possessions you consider truly irreplaceable, other members of your household could have different ideas in a situation where madly running around trying to collect precious items could put your lives at risk.
Australians are definitely fighters when it comes to natural hazards but not all of us are firefighters and no matter how many buckets, fire extinguishers and garden hoses you have on the ready, there are some situations where the safest option is to leave. This can be a problem if you live somewhere with limited exit roads and everyone else has also waited until the last minute to get out.
Fire authorities have identified NSPs (neighbourhood safer places) where people can go in areas where escaping could prove problematic.
NSPs are open areas and do not guarantee protection from a fire. They are only intended as places of last resort and if you do wait until an NSP becomes your only option, you will not be allowed to take animals or pets with you.
Having a what if plan is sound advice but it also makes sense to make sure everyone in your household agrees with it.