Getting your caravan ready for the scorching heat of summer involves more than just filling it with refreshing beverages and new gadgets to keep you cool. It’s vitally important to be prepared for a bushfire emergency and understand the necessary steps to take if one occurs near you.
Awareness is key and can save lives, so before embarking on your journey, it’s important to check the fire risks in the area you’re driving to. This is as simple as downloading the free National Bushfires app (compatible with Apple, Android and Windows devices), which gives you the latest bushfire reports, news, fire danger warnings and forecasts for all states within Australia.
Having a contingency plan is also always recommended. Finding alternative routes using an updated map to plan out possible escape paths is imperative. It’s also best to keep a physical map of your geographical location in your car, too, particularly if you plan on visiting areas with patchy or no reception. These actions will help to reduce panic and anxiety, and will keep you thinking clearly in case fierce flames are heading your way.
Packing your caravan with an emergency survival kit will ease some unnecessary worry and ensure you’re prepared for whatever disaster may strike. Include a portable, battery‑powered radio, a waterproof torch and spare batteries, a first-aid kit (manual included), a box of candles with waterproof matches, a few woollen blankets, an emergency contact list, and a waterproof bag for valuable items. It’s important to also add cash and debit or credit cards; medications, toiletries and sanitary supplies; any requirements for infants, the elderly, the injured or people with disability; a spare mobile with a charger; a combination pocket knife; important documents sealed in a waterproof bag; a change of clothes for all travellers; and at least three litres of drinking water per person per day.
If a bushfire is fast approaching and you’re in your car and can’t responsibly speed away, the first thing to do is park your automobile off the road in a clearing and call 000. Turn on the headlights and hazard lights (for optimal visibility), and leave the engine running. Make a clearing around the car – removing all dried leaves, shrubs and plants – and close the doors, the windows and any vents. Find a spot as close to the floor as possible and cover any exposed skin with a woollen blanket or fabric made with natural fibres. Stay under cover until you no longer hear the cracks of the fire, and try to drink plenty of water.
The Summer 2022–2023 edition of Caravanning Australia is out now!