A carer’s bushfire plan was recently put into action on the Yorke Peninsula, helping her family to evacuate safely in highly dangerous conditions.
Create your own 5 minute bushfire plan now on the CFS website.
The family lives on a rural property and had completed a bushfire plan, helping them to keep calm and evacuate when a fire threatened their home.
Long-time foster carer Jenny* said that she never thought her family would need to implement their bushfire plan.
“For years we have created bush fire plans as part of our roles as foster carers,” Jenny said.
“We kept our plan simple - to remain at home until asked to evacuate by authorities, and to take nothing with us.”
The Department for Child Protection requires carers in bushfire prone areas to have a plan to help the family know what do, make major decisions in advance and help to stay focused in what is a high pressure situation.
The catastrophic weather forecast prompted Jenny’s family to prepare their house, garden and pets, and to keep all their children at home that day.
“Our family is made up of both biological children and those who have come to us through foster care,” Jenny said.
“My husband and son were helping with the fire, so I was home alone with 6 children under 10 years old.”
“I asked the children to put their shoes on, get their drink bottle and grab their favourite teddy just in case we had to leave.”
Jenny said that she couldn’t believe how quickly the fire approached, jumping several roads and travelling 5 kilometres in about 10 minutes.
“I decided it was time to leave, and that no one was coming to formally evacuate us," Jenny said.
“The children had their essentials and I had mine... my children!”
After evacuating the family realised how fortunate they were, losing some crop, fencing and waterlines.
“Many of my neighbours lost everything, and it hit me just how dangerous a fire could be in our area in certain conditions.”
“In future we will have a formal family meeting before each fire season to answer any of the children’s concerns and to help better prepare them in case we need to evacuate again.”
“We learned a lot, and are so fortunate that no lives were lost.”
What Jenny learned
- Have a fire plan and keep it simple.
- If you can’t bear to leave something behind then have it packed up and ready before fire season.
- When a catastrophic weather day is forecast, pack a simple “go bag” the day before (if nothing else you all have clean undies!)
- In a serious and fast moving fire no one is coming to save you or get you out until your house is actually on fire, so use common sense and get to a safer place in plenty of time.
- You absolutely can have a catastrophic fire in the most unlikely area given certain conditions.
- No matter how calm you feel, children can be traumatised by a fire and the destruction they see on every trip through the fire zone for weeks after.
The carer’s name in this story has been changed to ensure the privacy and safety of the children in her care.