Saturday, January 12, 2013

How Australians survive the raging bushfires

Barry Parker in AFP: Dozens of out-of-control fires have burnt vast tracts of Australia, destroying homes and crops and killing animals, but not a single person has died.

The success of the operation to safeguard lives has much to do with a detailed guide to surviving bush blazes, along with an official danger rating system that was introduced after 173 people perished in the 2009 Black Saturday firestorm.

In addition the Rural Fire Service (RFS) is extremely proactive in promoting safety precautions and warns every family how to make their own survival plans. RFS Deputy commissioner for New South Wales Rob Rogers spent Friday morning on radio and television bracing the nation for more to come as firefighters faced soaring temperatures in the battle to douse more than 100 fires.

"We've obviously got severe fire danger," Rogers said running through the basic requirements of survival designed to "protect the lives of your family".

"Prepare, act, survive," say the guidelines, continuing: "The majority of deaths during bushfires result from people trying to leave their homes at the last moment." The danger ratings system culminates in severe, extreme and catastrophic conditions, which are used to determine whether to evacuate or to stay and fight....

Fire danger sign, showing "Very High" risk, Red Cliffs, Victoria, Australia, 2008.  Shot by Longhair, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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