Nuff Nuff

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Story - A True Story Part 1 - Black Saturday

Believe if you choose – or like many – choose not to believe – I don’t care either way

This story starts on Saturday the 7th February 2009 and is my personal log of the day and the days following the tragic event, now known as the Black Saturday Fires.

Let's start from the start – My family and I live near Whittlesea - we were prepared to come under attack from the fire which started in Kilmore due to fallen power lines. Thankfully it missed us – It was a very close call - maybe 1-2km away – thankfully a wind change took the fire away from us – between before than and certainly after, the fire consumed many buildings, lives and futures. Nobody knew how much worse the day could get. What started at approx 11am on the Saturday the 7th February 2009, still hasn’t finished even today, the day you read this.

My father, like myself had a sixth sense when it came to days of fire threats, he was calling me before the fire started in Kilmore to check that we were prepared. I was prepared as I could be without being called a loon. I was alert and watchful and not locking myself inside. I was listening to the news and watching the internet for signs of trouble. Dad had been calling ever hour or so from about 8am. All was okay, and then all of a sudden, things were not okay – we knew were in trouble, you just knew.

Hubby was away at work, I called him at 11.30am and told him to get home. The kids were packed with everything they wanted to take – the animals safe or for the larger animals prepared to be left. The pumps were primed and hoses laid out. Door mats removed and all that stuff you do for fire preparation. We were as prepared as could be without actually leaving the property.

Our street prepared, those that were leaving left, those that were staying stayed. The elderly were all assigned drivers and bullied into leaving. Many didn’t want to leave, but they were not given a choice. Those in ill health left early. Those that were older, but still able to prepare
properties were left to prepare properties and they would be taken with the children away from imminent danger if the need arose.

The neighbours talked and knew who was doing what. A man was posted on the hill behind us to watch for the fire and the information was fed down the residents.

We became aware at about 3pm that the fire was now being forced away from us by a change in the wind – we could see this – the radio and websites still didn’t have this information – but we could see this with our own eyes. Effectively we were saved, but we stayed on high alert until about 10pm, just in case there was another change in the wind.

We stopped watching our fire about 10pm, the stories coming from Kinglake were hair-raising to say the least. You couldn’t get into town, the media and stories bought tears to everyone who stopped and gave some time and listened, which was what people needed and few had the time to provide.

Once the fire headed off into the hills, I told mum and dad and told them to prepare. My gut just told me that the fire was going to hit town. I just knew it.

The power went out in Marysville at about 4.30pm and from that time onwards I was using the information I could glean from forums and news reports to feed mum and dad what little information I knew. At about 4.30pm a wind storm hit Marysville, which is what took the power out. That wind bought down trees and power lines and caused mayhem in town, Once the General Store shut – there was nowhere central to share information as is normally done.

I spoke to mum and dad every 30 minutes or so – they had a ceiling ladder that enabled them to access to roof space, dad was outside with the backpack and water. The house was being used a sort of refuge, with people from other properties taking shelter under inside the house, along with many animals that people left in the care of my parents. Basically a human and animal
zoo.

I rang at one stage and the smoke detectors were sounding and mum had to terminate the call because the fire was right there – she had to check the roof space and she couldn’t hear what I was saying. I knew the town was in trouble then, just not how much trouble. I am assuming it was about 6-6.30pm that this call was made.

The last call I made was at 7.57pm - I read to them from the CFA site the 8pm warning that everyone should evacuate to the oval - I knew that the fire front had passed about 6.30pm - but I was hearing in the news that the fire had doubled back

I also knew that they were the ONE house remaining (as reported in this mornings news) in the WHOLE Township - we are talking 100's of houses and businesses.

I kept trying to get through to them, but the landlines were gone at about 6pm and the mobiles were gone by 8pm – I went to bed at midnight - couldn’t sleep - was tossing and turning and listening to the radio - and by 2.30am I had made up my mind to get there come hell or high water - I packed fire fighting clothes, woollen blankets, 8 litres of water, leather gloves, sturdy shoes, a tank full of diesel and a whole lot of determination.

To be continued.....................................................

Will post follow up link and new blog post when ready - it's a long story - so you might need more than one coffee over numerous days :(

Take care out there and remember if in doubt GET OUT


Part 2

Victorian Publics’ Lives at Risk #2 - outage of CFA/DSE Sites

Today the 30.12.09 - Once again the CFA website is up and down like a honeymooners D***, yup that is the only way to explain it

Add to that the DSE website has mostly been DOWN all day - pity those of us that abutt Crown Land we will have no warning

Here is the record for the CFA and DSE sites for today the 30.12.09

CFA
10.30hrs – down
10.35hrs – down
10.37hrs – down
10.52hrs – Up
11.12hrs – Up
11.19hrs – Up
11.51hrs – Up
11.56hrs – Up
12.02hrs – Up
12.14hrs – Up
12.19hrs – Up
13.01hrs – Up
13.31hrs – Up
14.01hrs – Up
14.58hrs – Up
15.10hrs - Up
15.20hrs – Down
15.26hrs – Up
15.34hrs – Up
15.52hrs – Up
16.00hrs – Up
16.04hrs - Up
16.08hrs - Up
16.19hrs - Up
16.25hrs - Up
16.47hrs – Up
18.27hrs – Very slow to load
18.30hrs – Up
18.33hrs – Up
18.53hrs – Main warnings page up–advise & alerts page–Very slow loading
19.25hrs - Up
19.56hrs – Up
20.03hrs - Up
20.10hrs – Up
20.30hrs - Up
21.12hrs - Up
21.27hrs - Up
21.35hrs - Up
21.43hrs – Up
22.08hrs – Up
22.19hrs – Up
23.19hrs – Up
23.42hrs - Up

DSE
15.53hrs – Down
15.57hrs – Very slow to load
16.00hrs – Up
16.03hrs – Very slow to load
16.08hrs - Up
16.19hrs - Up
16.25hrs – Very slow to load
16.48hrs – Up
18.27hrs – Very slow to load
18.30hrs - Very slow to load
18.33hrs – Very slow to load

18.53hrs – Very slow to load
19.25hrs – Up
19.56hrs – Up
20.03hrs – Up
20.10hrs – Up
20.30hrs - Up
21.12hrs – Down
21.27hrs – Up
21.35hrs - Up
21.43hrs – Up
22.08hrs – Up
23.19hrs – Up
23.42hrs - Up

I will continue to update this post as needed

For those of you city slickers wondering WHY this site is so important here is the reason

Why the CFA site is so important to people in the state of Victoria

as at 23.42hr - this post will not be updated any further - should the need arise a new post will be opened tomorrow.

Last updated 23.44hrs on the 30.12.09

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why must the government save people from themselves?


Was reading an article today in The Australian saying that SMS warnings regarding bushfires didn’t give enough information and where not location specific. That there wasn’t enough information and that information from all sources was almost the same. Of course it is – it’s all from the same source.

You can’t have it both ways, either you let the government run your life or you run your own life. Take responsibility for your own decisions.

Did you decide to live and build in an area that may be affected by bushfire at some time in your lifetime?

Did you decide to plant all those trees so close to your home?

Did you decide to build your house from combustible materials?

Did you decide that you would rather have the overseas holidays and plasma TV’s instead of buildings and contents insurance?

Look I’m sorry – but you have to be accountable for your decisions. No-one else is to blame but you.

You will call me cold-hearted, you will call me uncaring. I’m neither – I’m a realist and that means that I am accountable for every action that I make and can account for every decision.

I made the decision to buy where I did. Which is in an area that could be impacted by fire, but it beats the other two locations we were previously looking at, we knocked those on the head for various reasons. Some of those reasons were; private dead end road, log cabin building, treed location, and black ice.

We opted not to buy in two locations because of the above reasons. It’s called self-protection and common sense. I chose not to place myself and my family in a position that could endanger our life, even if it was a 1 day a year, or lifetime event.

Think ahead, if the day is going to be declared a Code Red day – get out, get out early and stay out. If you want to save your sentimental items, take them with you, if you want to save your animals, take them with you. To leave early is not a crime – don’t let the opinions of others, colour your decision that may affect your life and family forever.

Be Prepared or Prepare to Die.

I can’t repeat that often enough. You are NOT a coward if you decide to leave, you are a survivor.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Reason for Outrage at CFA Outage

People have been saying since the CFA outage yesterday that there are other means of determining impending fire threats. Unfortunately I don't agree.

IN February, We knew it was going to be a bad day, the media had prepared us for it being that - but if you've lived in the bush long enough - you don't need to be told - YOU KNOW.

From the moment I rolled out of bed in the morning, I checked the CFA website, I listened to 693, 1026 AND 774, switching between the stations, yet they really only had proper updates on the ½ hour, so that rules out radio mostly. Newspapers LOL, Internet – fine if you have power. So the ONLY other way to get information is via phone calls to people closer to the danger – it shouldn’t be that way

I understand and many other fire savvy people understand that EVERY media outlet is ALWAYS behind the times – they can’t keep up-to-date. But sites like the CFA are a first line of defence for the ordinary person – to give them a guide.

For example, The Kilmore fire – I could see the smoke in the distance – so I immediately referred to the CFA site – radio/TV had no inkling at that time – by the time the media got hold of the story – I already had the fire hoses out AND the neighbours organized

That is HOW important the CFA site is – and UNTIL the idiot pen-pushers realize this – we are stuffed.

(and this is WHY the CFA & Government recommend you LEAVE early if you are NOT planning on staying and defending - they can't guarantee you will be alerted in time)

I'll say it again and again and again - if you have NO INTENTIONS of defending your property - notify your neighbours and get the HELL OUT.

You are not just fighting for your life - you will be fighting for your sanity.



Victorian Lives at Risk.

Are You Prepared to Stay or Go?

Things NOT to do When Confronted by Fire?

Are You Prepared for a Bushfire?

The Rest of my Fire Blog - PLEASE READ

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Victorian Publics’ Lives at Risk

Today the 16th December 2009 is the day the media claim is the first day that Victoria’s fire services will be put to the test for the 2009-2010 Fire Season.

I have to say at 13:21hrs – The emergency services have failed the state.

The CFA website has been down and very glitchy all day – I thought it was my connection – but others have checked and no – I am right – The CFA website has been down.

12:18hrs down
12:20hrs up
12:29hrs down
12:30hrs down
12:33hrs down

12:35hrs up
12:40hrs up
12:44hrs up
12:49hrs up
12:58hrs up
13:21hrs up
13.31hrs Up
13:43hrs Down
13:46hrs down
13:48hrs down
13:49hrs down
13:56hrs down
14:03hrs Down
14:07hrs down
14:12hrs Down
14:14hrs down
14:16hrs down
14:18hrs down
14:22hrs down
14:23hrs down
14:28hrs down

14:32hrs up
14:37hrs up
14:53hrs down (time-out)
14:54hrs up (very slow)
14:57hrs up
15:00hrs up
15:06hrs up
15:10hrs up
15:16hrs up
15:18hrs up
15:22hrs up
15:24hrs up
15:26hrs up
15:30hrs up
15:33hrs up
15:45hrs up
15:49hrs up
15:54hrs up


At a CFA meeting for the public – a statement along the lines of “You will have to put up with the problems for accessing the site” – This is not a satisfactory response.

There is poor load capacity on servers and that comment is coming straight from CFA Head Quarters. There are ways and means to manage these problems. Some of the other causes appear to be the source coding with too many requests to other data sources and also that google tracking appears twice on the same page.

This is something that should concern ALL VICTORIAN’s.

It’s fine to say keep your eyes open, that the site information will be delayed, that it is your personal responsibility. This is ONE of the tools I use to monitor fire activity along with 100’s possibly 1000’s of other people.

Don’t we have a right to feel safe in the knowledge that tools we need to assess the danger are working and accessible to everybody state-wide?

Your thoughts, your ideas, welcome – if we can find a solution for the Emergency Services then let’s do it!

(last updated 15:56hrs - 16.12.09) - no further updates

It would appear that changes done yesterday were the cause of the problems - Things seem back to normal as at the last update.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Loss of power in residential premises



We have all experienced the moments where the power flickers, this comes from the power being switched to one grid to another OR where there is a high wind and the lines overhead touch.

To lose power for an extended period of time is unusual for city residents. That means no air con for the hot days and often no heating for the cold days. That is one of the inconveniences. It might last for 1-2 hours. So no TV, no microwave, no general modern day type activities.

For 1-2 hours this is not a concern, for 5-6 hours or longer, it is of a slightly greater concern.

Some of the things that you may not be able to use:-
1. Telephone (elec handsets) – from the onset of power loss
2. Internet if PC based – from onset of power loss
3. Water (Shower, Toilet, Kitchen) – if you rely on tank water- from onset of power loss
4. No cooking, if you require electricity to cook – from onset of power loss
5. Roller Doors for garages and carports – from onset of power loss
6. Television – from onset of power outage
7. Air Conditioning/Heating – from onset of power outage
8. Alarm clocks – from onset of power outage
9. NO charging of iPods, phones etc – 12 hours after the fact, you will need to recharge
10. The freezer might actually start to dethaw – 12-24 hours after power outage
11. Lights – at nightfall

How to overcome such problems:-
Telephones – make sure you have a handset, even if not on display, that you can connect into the socket, that does not require 240v, problem solved
Internet – Tough – go without, replace getting your news updates with radio (battery operated of course)
Water – (for those of us on tank water) try and make sure you have the kettle full as a matter of habit and if feasible, set up a gravity feed line, (riser) only used in emergencies
Cooking – get the Gas BBQ out and cook the meat from the freezer, boil water, use your imagination
Roller Doors, make sure you understand the manual override and practice using it occasionally
Television – tough – refer internet solution
Air Conditioning – tough – get used to it
Heating – put on another jumper, if the heating requires an electric fan, turn off heating, or risk causing damage to heating appliance
Alarm Clocks – have a battery operated/wind up alarm clock as an emergency or go to bed early and catch up on some missed sleep
Chargers – tough – get used to it
Freezer – Cover the freezer with as many blankets as possible, making sure that you do not leave the premises whilst covered as the power MAY be restored and you could cause the freezer to overheat. In the meantime – eat the contents, at each meal.
Night – use candles – perhaps placed IN jars to prevent them causing a fire, or lanterns like those you use outside.

You can also stock up on canned and dry foods, makes life a little easier in these types of emergencies.

Some people are more prepared than others, simply because their work might require generators or similar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be just as prepared without that sort of stuff.

Just because something has changed, doesn’t mean you can't change – as I state time and time again; The only person you can rely on is YOU.

Stay warm or cool – it’s not the end of the world, only a blip in the time-line.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Protecting Your Possessions Against Bushfire

I don't normally do this - as I like to put all my own 'stuff' together and not stuff my blog with other guff

Well - this is vitally important if you ever are affected by fire.(Which I hope not)

From the "The Australian Institute for the conservation of Cultural Material" they have put together some information that may help ease the heart-break and allow items to be salvaged.

Since the Black Saturday fires, we all recognise that fires of a catastrophic degree can cause extreme damage on a scale previously unimagined. However, stories that have emerged from the experience tell us also that some treasures did survive. Even some paper-based items miraculously endured intense heat, soot and fire. With careful storage and by using heat-resistant materials, certain risks can be reduced. While not a guarantee that items will not suffer damage, minimising risk through the storage methods recommended may offer some hope for items that have to be left behind on evacuation.
If you are affected by fires, the AICCM encourages you to retain any damaged keepsakes and memorabilia that are still recognisable, even if damaged and dirty. Consult a conservator before you throw them away. It is possible that they may be salvageable.
Please refer to this link for full details and downloadable information that can be of assistance, both, before and after. http://www.aiccm.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1117:protecting-your-possessions-against-bushfire&catid=11:media-releases&Itemid=52

Take care out there and remember a scanned photo, may not replace the original BUT, it preserves the image.

Refer my post about data storage and remember you can't always remember everything, especially when under pressure and worry - http://itaintalwaysso.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-safe-is-data-in-your-safe.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The failure of Last Resort Fire Refuges and CODE RED school registers

State of Victoria

The two can’t and won’t go together that’s perfectly okay. What is not okay is the haphazard, reckless, misinformed way these two ‘registers’ have been compiled and released to the public.

Schools that should be listed on the Department of Education’s Code Red Register are not. What will happen if and when a fire threatens? – Who will be responsible? I would like to think that the parents have withheld their children from school that day – but I can only hope and dream.

The Last Resort Fire Refuges listed on the CFA website and not compiled by them; leave much to be desired. Here is the list http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/publications/neighbourhood_safer_places.htm There are many areas that have been omitted from this list, so where are you meant to turn? Where is the safe refuge in your area? You don't know, you haven't been told. Makes you feel as though you and your families lives are not important, not important enough for a Last Resort Fire Refuge to be declared, anyway.

The CFA are not given keys to some of these premises, the only way to access these premises is using council staff, yet some councils are closing all public buildings on High Risk Fire Danger Days. So who will open these buildings for the public IF the need arises?

Or will the CFA have to use the master key, the bolt cutters and sledge hammer, to gain access and create more of a fire risk – by having open access points that cannot be sealed from ember attack?

The State Government at all levels are failing the people of Victoria, they are creating a mess, with interim report this and interim report that – I understand it’s hard to decide, but I honestly believe that open areas, like sports grounds, offer a far better form of protection, especially if the vehicles are driven on this turf, the ground is clear, there is often a road around said facility which offers a fire break to prevent grass fires.

Yes, there is still a risk posed, but I would far rather be in the open, than locked up in a building with the prospect of a stampede when someone panics.

Too many questions, too little time and it’s not just the country folk that should be paying attention to this – it’s also people living on the fringes of suburbs or even in the suburbs, you too could be affected by loss of power or even ember attack.

Please read thoroughly all articles HERE http://itaintalwaysso.blogspot.com/search/label/bushfires Pass the link around, and make sure everyone you care about knows – cut and paste the link and hand ball it – remember you can ONLY rely on yourself in times of emergency.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My father said……………………..

“You shouldn’t have come”, with tears in his eyes. My response was “and if the shoe had been on the other foot, what would you have done?” His response was “I would’ve come” My response, “Then please, don’t tell me what I should and should not have done.”

This conversation took place when we were still cleaning up the property in town some 9 months after the fact and was in relation to the fires and my escapades 8 hours after the fact.

He’s not coping, my mother pretends she is coping. I’m not coping, but like mother, like daughter I pretend I am coping. Deep down I know I am not.

There are many other people like me and my parents out there. We are all pretending we are managing; we have to for our family and our friends.

The posting of this into the blog is somewhat delayed from when it was written, simply due to other posting material which has been previously written and yet, this material could be posted some 12 months down the track and I am sure it would read exactly the same way.

Yesterday the 19th November 2009, saw the first day that could have posed a threat to my family, and I spent the entire day at work, thanking my lucky stars that my daughter was not home and praying that nothing would happen. There are people on my street that have no-one to care for them other than me. I was the only person on Black Saturday that stayed in contact with them and made sure that they were aware of what was going on and who they would be going with if and when the path of the fire changed.

South Australia and Victoria have had record breaking temperatures in the last 48 hours and I think that is only going to get worse. Hotter nights, even hotter days, winds and storms will increase and with that the increase in lightening strikes and fires getting away from our esteemed fire-fighters. As I have said previously and will continue to say, firefighters, paid and unpaid are our lifeline. Without them, these fires would devastate everything we know.

My father lost many friends, his home town of 40 years has been wiped from the face of the earth. There are 173 people dead, there are 1000’s of displaced people, wondering if they should re-build, wondering if they should move on. Wondering what life holds in store for them. Spare a thought, not just for those that lost their lives, but for those that have to live with the memory of those losses and the loss of property and their job and everything they once knew.

BTW – just because it has been said, doesn’t make it right, neither does it make it wrong. It just needed to be said to clear the air.

We all do things we sometimes regret, both words and actions, I regret neither. I did what had to be done and it shows that one woman in action can do much more than words.

Stay strong, stay safe and remember if you don’t feel safe, get out and save your life (and your mind). It is not just the event, but it is what you see and hear that can affect you for as long as you live.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do Council, Government & Insurance Co.'s have power to shut your business on HIGH fire risk days?

It looks like the ugly words – Public Liability and Personal Responsibility are now going to curtail your business opportunities, between the insurance companies and councils in fire risk areas, you won’t have much choice but to close your business that sells ice-creams on hot days. Possibly the busiest day/s of the year and you will be prevented from earning an income

You are going to be forced to close the doors, regardless.

Closed:- Schools, Childcare Centres, Kindergartens, Council Offices

NOT Closed:- Old Age Facilities,

Clarification needed:- Safe Evacuation Points, Retail Outlets, Community Events

Macedon Ranges Council has already decided to shut council offices and premises on high risk days. Rumours abound that insurance companies will force the closure of businesses due to fire risk (yet must be happy to make a payout IF the premises and stock is left unprotected and lost due to fire)

The Falls Festival in Lorne, which boosts the town economy enormously, officialdom wants it moved to September.

Councils won’t advise on last choice fire refuges, even now as the fire season is upon us. They are going to let these refuges once again go by the by, because it is all too hard.

People are turning to the CFA for advice and the CFA can’t advise what they don’t know. They are not being told. They can only state what they are advised to state by those higher up the command chain.

The CODE RED School Register is incomplete; many schools that should be listed are not. Schools like Hurstbridge Primary School, Diamond Valley College, Whittlesea Secondary College, Whittlesea Primary School, St Marys Primary School in Whittlesea, Marymeade College in South Morang. There are only some of the schools that should be listed and are not.

I understand the need for care, I understand the need for reduced liability, we are the sue now and think later nation after all. But what happened to personal responsibility?

What happened to being accountable for your own actions? What happened to being aware of your surroundings?

Are we so truly dumbed down and babysat by the Government that we can’t think for ourselves?

Let’s look at things from a different angle, most public pools are located on public land, thus under council regulations, will the pools be forced to close on high risk days? Which would also happen to be their busiest days of the year.

A pool would have to be one of the safest places to be with a fire approaching. Let’s kill two birds with the one stone, stuff the cars, animals and houses, let them burn. If you are worried about your personal safety use the local swimming pool as a refuge. You could swim while waiting for death to approach.

Make your plans, rely on no-one but yourself, because nobody else but YOU can decide where YOU are best off staying or evacuating to, ONLY YOU.

Take care

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I’ve was never so scared



It was Thursday, the 26th November 2009, a storm warning was issued for Melbourne, I had been talking to people about a dust storm and then decided to check the BOM site for weather warnings. A storm warning had been issued, and no sooner had I sighted the warning, than it was upon us.

I rang my daughter, she is about 30km further north than where I am located and told me that she was okay but thinks the house had taken a direct lightening hit, as the door frames had turned blue and although she was shaken, she was okay. It was absolutely bucketing and windy. She was hanging up the phone to mop up the water that had entered the house. I was unsure as to how the water had entered to house. That was the least of my concerns.

I tried to ring back some 5-10 minutes later to check how everything was going and there was no answer. Tried the mobile. No answer. My heart is in my mouth. I’m sure as a parent – you are feeling worried also.

Ringing, ringing, ringing, no answer. Getting more worried as the seconds tick past. Start ringing the neighbours. No answer there either, start ringing the mobiles. No answer. I am seeing my house going up in smoke, with the neighbours trying to rescue my daughter.

I hit the panic button and ring my husband, telling him to get home NOW. There is no answer on any phones, the neighbours aren’t answering, the house was flooded. My imagination is running well and truly in overdrive.

Can’t leave work, the nation-wide servers have crashed, the phone system is down. Everyone is panicking!

Finally people from the street start calling/texting. Daughter is okay, the house is fine. 50mm of rain in 15 minutes,. Nothing could be heard apparently. Landlines are down, minor flooding, not sure about the roof, but daughter is alive.

(I had images of her, laying on the floor in a pool of water, dead)

By the time I get home, some 5 hours later, water cleaned up, roof not holed, one landline down, the other the only working one in the street. Neighbours are queuing up to use the phone to report the faults. It’s now Monday mod-morning and still no landlines, or internet.

But everyone is alive and well

(Update - phones re-instated Tuesday, apparently the lightening literally fried the wires in the ground, only left strands not bundles of wires! Still no strike site visible, but was extremely close)

Friday, November 20, 2009

My blogging regarding fires.



I have now come to the end of what I consider to be a vitally important, possible life-saving part of this blog. I believe I have covered everything that I can.

If you think I have omitted something, please drop me a note. I would be only too happy to cover further information or details as requested.

Some people who have read this blog are aware that I was involved in the fires. To what extent I am hesitant to reveal as I am not a hero. I did what had to be done.

The heroes in the events of “Black Saturday” are those men and women who turned out on the day as both paid and unpaid volunteers and assisted those in need and fought the fires and saved the lives of many people.

This is my way of saying thank-you.

I am sorry that the Royal Commission seems to portray you, the people at the front of the firing line as people who did not know what you were doing. I don’t believe this to be the case. You did what you were ordered to do and had to do to save lives and property.

I have heard first-hand many stories of self-less acts of bravery, which saved the lives of many men, women and children.

If you are a reader of this blog, please leave a note of thanks to the boys and girls in the emergency services, who may have saved a friend, a family member or even your dog. Be it now, or in the future.

Thank-you

And please stay tuned for more posts tomorrow, the day after and the day after that!

HS

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are you prepared to stay and defend or do you need to leave on “CODE RED” Days



Ask yourself these questions:-
1. Are you physically fit?
2. Are you mentally able to cope with the noise and possible devastation?
3. If you have children, do you have someone outside the area who can look after them?
4. Is your block surrounded by cleared lands?
5. Is your house roof clear of overhanging trees and branches?
6. Are you able to get onto the roof and block the gutters?
7. Is your house built on relatively flat land?
8. Is your house on a slab OR stumps? If stumps,is underneath of your house clear?


These are SOME of the things you MUST consider, There are many other factors to determine if you go or stay. It is not for me to determine your choice. Only YOU can make that choice.

If you answered Yes to the above Questions – then it is possible you have a better chance of saving your property.

If at any time in the past you have suffered from asthma or a heart condition, I believe you have to leave. I can’t stress this enough. The air is thick with smoke and flying embers, the heat is unbearable.

Here is a re-cap of all my posts over the last couple of weeks, from what to do and what not to do.
Things not to do when a bushfire is approaching
You can feel a sense of de-ja vu in the air
Things NOT to do when confronted by a bushfire
The Fire Season and the Procrastinator

Things to do months, weeks, years ahead of an approaching bushfire
Are YOU prepared for a bushfire?
Be Prepared or Prepare to Die
The threat of bushfires, your family and particularly home alone children
Children in the care of others, during CODE RED bushfire danger days (Victoria, Australia)
CODE RED affected schools (Victoria, Australia)
Fire bunkers – are they safe?
Caught in Car During a Bushfire
Animals and Bushfires

If you don’t feel able to stay and defend, leave, tell your neighbours, take your valuables with you, take your animals with you.


If you have water, let the local CFA know that you have water, if you are able – sign post that water, so the CFA are able to locate it. Don’t be selfish, it could be your house they are trying to save.

Take care and remember that the fire season of 2008/09 cost the lives of many and taught those that survived how to make survival a little easier.

Do not let their lives be in vain. Remember life is precious and family more so.

Take care out there

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"CODE RED" affected Metropolitan suburbs

Is your suburb on this list? - Doesn't matter if you are 10km from the CBD of Melbourne or 100km from the CBD - I have listed below some of the suburbs affected. Here is the whole list
Education Dept Bushfire Affected Schools - Link Updated 28th Oct 2013

I have only selected those suburbs that are considered suburbs of Melbourne. These suburbs are within commuting distance of the CBD.



Beaconsfield Upper, Belgrave (and surrounds), Bendigo (and surrounds), Blackburn, Boronia, Burwood, Carrum Downs, Christmas Hills, Cockatoo, Creswick, Croydon (and surrounds), Diamond Creek, Doncaster East, Donvale, Eltham (and surrounds), Endeavour Hills, Ferntree Gully, Frankston (and surrounds), Gembrook, Greensborough, Hoddles Creek, Hurstbridge, Kallista, Lilydale, Lower Templestowe, Mernda, Mill Park, Monbulk, Montrose, Mount Dandenong, Narre Warren, Olinda, Pakenham (and surrounds), Research, Riddells Creek, Rosebud (and surrounds), Wantirna (and surrounds), Warrandyte (and surrounds), Wonga Park

If you have children in care, be it crèche, kindergarten or primary or secondary school in these areas, you will need to make alternate care arrangements for your children.

Refer this post for possible options CODE RED affected schools (Victoria, Australia)

Remember you will be leaving you children in the care of others, are you prepared to take the risk? – Read here - Children in the care of others, during CODE RED bushfire danger days (Victoria, Australia)

And remember, IF the school bus passes through any of these areas, the buses will not be running either, as per the Dept of Education website http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/bushfires/closure/default.htm

Please take care and remember nothing is more precious than the life of your children.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Children in the care of others, during CODE RED bushfire danger days (Victoria, Australia)

Further to my post of the 13.11.09 CODE RED affected schools (Victoria, Australia)
Have you thought about the responsibility factor of leaving your children in the care of another person, with the possibility of them being responsible for your children when you are not around?

It’s all fine and well to assume nothing will happen, but to assume something generally means you make an ass of yourself.

I’m not sure I would like the responsibility of caring for someone else’s child on such a high risk day, yet if you are a working parent, can you afford to take the time off? – I have also covered this here (from an employers’ perspective) Small business and your duty of care

You need to weigh up your options, I suppose it’s a lottery of sorts, ‘The money or your life’ or in this case your children’s life.

I know I keep harping on the matter – but I still think people are not taking the risk seriously enough.

People think that because they live in the suburbs they are safe – well the Government thinks otherwise, here are some of the suburbs listed as being CODE RED, do you live adjacent to or in these suburbs? Then consider yourself AT RISK – Eltham, Belgrave, Bendigo, Blackburn, Boronia, Carrum Downs, Coldstream, Doncaster East. See what I mean? Some of these suburbs are only 10-15km away from the CBD of Melbourne.

Don’t play ostrich, this is life and death, of you, your children, your family and friends.

Make your decisions and stick with it – Remember life is precious

XXOO

Friday, November 13, 2009

CODE RED affected schools (Victoria, Australia)

Some schools, crèches, kindergartens, child-care centres in some areas WILL BE CLOSED on days considered to be ‘CODE RED”

As a parent, you will need to make alternate arrangements for the care of your child/ren. This is VITAL that is arranged as soon as possible. Organise NOW.

Please DO NOT leave your children home alone. If something were to happen, you would not forgive yourself. IF you can stay home with the children, then that is best alternative.

If you are leaving your children with family or friends, make sure they are able to safely transport your child (and theirs) from the area IF the need arises. I am talking seat-belts, cars. DO NOT pretend nothing will happen. It may, it could. DO NOT risk your childrens’ life for the sake of a few dollars

Remember your children may be scared, they may be afraid of the fires, that may never happen. You MUST NOT scare them, You must not convey your fear to them.

No. 1 – identify if your school is one of the schools affected – here is the link to the Dept of Education website. http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/bushfires/register.htm

No. 2 – You will be given a warning of up to 3 days, BUT if the weather changes suddenly, you may only have 12 hours notice (midday the day prior) of CODE RED day OR cancellation of said notification.

No. 3 – Arrange care for child/ren ASAP – this will reduce the stress on the child AND reduce the stress on yourself. NEVER leave a child at home, regardless of their age. IF something were to happen – you would never forgive yourself and I can guarantee that the police will not let you back home through the road blocks, if there is the threat of danger.

No. 4 – IF your child travels by bus, through an area deemed “CODE RED” to a school NOT affected by “CODE RED” the buses will NOT BE running on that route. Again find out from the bus company IF your route is affected and make plans accordingly.

No. 5 – If there are activities planned for outside the school grounds, it is likely these will also be cancelled. Be prepared for last minute changes.

No. 6 – if you don’t feel comfortable sending your child to school because of the risk of fire, even though a “CODE RED” day has not been announced. Keep your children home, with you

No. 7 – Make sure you discuss with your children what to do IF something goes wrong and you are not home – refer this conversation with my daughter. The threat of bushfires, your family and particularly home alone children

No. 8 – Family is more important than money – DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT think it won’t happen to you – because it did happen to 173 people and I don’t wish that upon you.

Please take care and remember your children choose your nursing home, so make sure they are around to do that for you.

XXOO

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do you own any assets?

If you answer yes to any other to following questions – You SHOULD have insurance.

1. Do you own a car? Yes/No
2. Do you own a TV? Yes/No
3. Do you own Property? Yes/No
4. Do you rent a property Yes/No
5. Do you own a computer? Yes/No
6. Do you own a motorcycle? Yes/No

If you answered yes to ANY Of these questions – then you should have insurance.

If you answered yes to 1 or 6 – you should have full comprehensive vehicle insurance – let me tell you why – If you have an accident, then you are covered for replacement vehicle (at market cost) all damage is covered, even of the other driver doesn’t have insurance. No court problems, no out of pocket expenses, only the excess. If you ONLY had 3rd party fire and theft. You would have to pay for a replacement vehicle AND if you have a loan for the vehicle, not only will you have cost of the loan, but the cost of buying a new car!

If you answered yes at 2,4,5 – then you should have contents insurance (unless you are still at home with mum and dad). If (let’s cross our fingers, there is not) that you have a building fire. Regardless of what happens, you pay 50% of the cost of the fire brigade turnout and also the standby costs. Not a pretty thing even if you are employed. Last I heard $1500.00 per QUARTER hour PER truck. - Can you honestly afford that?

If you answered yes at 3 – then you should have building insurance, again if there is a building fire. You have to pay 50% of the fire brigade turn-out costs.

The NSW bushfires of 2001/2002 – 31% of buildings were NOT insured and the rate was far higher for contents. This is mostly due to a misconception that the owner of the property takes out contents insurance also. THIS IS NOT THE case.

Also under-insurance is a big problem. The cost of rebuilding is NOT the cost to purchase the property, nor the cost of just re-building per square foot, you must also include site clearance etc, which is a genuine cost of re-building.

Assess your building and contents on a yearly basis, make it a habit to check the CPI rate and also if you have added new assets/renovated your house in the past year.

Vehicle insurance, make sure you are covered for new for old for the first 12 months of a brand new car. Check the policy costs and added benefits and compare the best value BEFORE committing.

Insurance saves a lot of heart-ache – remember that! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fire bunkers – are they safe?

With the fires on 7th February 2009 now called the ‘Black Saturday Fires’ many people in high-risk areas are considering installing or have installed so-called fire bunkers.

In theory these bunkers are a good idea – in real life perhaps not so good.

The 7th of February saw 7 people die in bunkers – the causes not released to the public. In saying that there were many people that used bunkers and did survive.

There is documented evidence that a home-made bunker designed to save, almost killed one resident. Who upon entering the bunker found that once the door was closed, the bunker filled with smoke, whilst the oxygen was sucked out.

The placement, site location, whether under roof eaves, the location of trees and other large objects may cause problems when trying to exit the bunker AFTER the fire front has passed

The possibility of air being sucked out of the bunker is another issue – rarely touched upon – but just as important. A human being is unable to survive without air.

There is (was) a bunker north-east of Melbourne that when inspected after the fire – the occupant would not have been able to survive. The temperature inside the bunker melted everything. Thankfully the expected occupant left the area prior to the fires approach and survived defending his property.

I am neither condoning nor supporting the use of bunkers – but if YOU MUST build a bunker or pay someone to do it – ensure that some basic guidelines are followed, as there are NO government/council guidelines/laws established to date.

- The bunker entrance/exit is far enough away from building structures and trees that the entry/exit cannot be blocked by falling debris.
- Ensure that you have ample FRESH water to prevent dehydration.
- Ensure that the entry/exit allows for easy access to determine if safe to exit.
- Ensure that the bunker is big enough to accommodate the number of people you desire.
- Try and stop all external air flow from the bunker and stop all smoke-laden air from entering the bunker.
- Ensure you have lighting that doesn’t consume oxygen (i.e. no candles).

As stated previously in theory bunkers are a good idea. Personally I don’t support them, simply because I have a dread of dying where I may not be found for days/weeks after a fatal event.

People and families did survive in bunkers – I am not denying that.

I suppose I would rather die fighting, not fleeing or huddled in an underground cell waiting for death.

Please take care and remember a life cannot be replaced, buildings and cars can be.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Memory of Marysville and New Life


This post is in memory of what has been lost – This photo was taken by a 12yo – without the intervention of an adult. He was allowed to wander around town as he has done since the age of about 6yo.

He and his dog (grandparents dog) are recognized and many people say hello simply because he’s hanging onto the other end of the leash.

This piece of art somehow managed to survive the Black Saturday Fires as they are now known. He is a sculpture done by Bruno of Bruno’s Sculpture Garden, – He is titled the 'Hiking Man' I believe

I imagine him looking over and protecting the township and its people.

He’s been removed for safe keeping whilst the re-building occurs. He will be back and will stand as a reminder for eternity of what was lost on the 7th February 2009.

Once again this photo was taken by the same child, now 13yo and this is what the 'Hiking Man' looked like shortly after the fires devastated Marysville and before his removal to a safe place in preparation for clearing the ground he stood on.


Let us not forget those that didn't make it - Don't become complacent. Don't let their deaths be in vain. Read what you find here, assess your situation and remember you are responsible for your own actions.

Stay safe. Today is another 35'c here in Melbourne and surrounds. It only takes one idiot to ruin our lives forever.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Survivors Guilt

You survive, you still wonder how. So many people you know did not survive. You saved your house, so many others couldn’t.

You are embarrassed, you are ashamed.

You are suffering survivors guilt.

You avoid the main roads, you avoid public meetings. You avoid the life that you once knew.

It is all too hard. You want to know why you have been saved and so many have not.

You have passed your years, you have done your time. Why were the children taken so early, they had not lived their life, they had not seen life.

It is not fair.

You help where you can, but wonder if your help is not wanted, due to the fact you have lost nothing and they have lost all.

What do you do? What can you do? Will the place you have known for 40 years ever be the same again?

Will you ever be able to shop in your home town again?

Will you ever be able to buy petrol in your home town again?

Will those that left to find a roof ever come back again?

There are so many questions and so few answers.

Nobody is prepared to give answers, nobody is prepared to step up and be accountable.

Can you survive the guilt?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Flash Back of the Worst Kind

Went back to the place I grew up in (I can’t call it home as I have my own family now, with my own home). This is the same place that was burnt out by Black Saturday fires in February and I made a mad pre-dawn dash, running road blocks and upsetting several ‘official’ people

It’s amazing what the smallest thing can cause you to recall at the strangest times.

The morning of the fires, I came around this corner, there was an almighty tree across the road, obviously the smoke and fire that goes with being in the middle of a catastrophic event like Black Saturday.

I turned the same corner today and saw the stumps of the trees and was thinking about that horrible morning. When all of a sudden a light dust cloud swept across the road, accompanied by the smell of smoke. I almost panicked.

The only thing that stopped me slamming on the brakes was that my partner was riding shotgun, whereas before I was alone.

The dust was from the cleared ground due to fire cleaning up and the smoke was due to a fire that had been lit to burn off the tree stumps and rubbish that had been graded into a pile.

I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like for someone who has lost family in Black Saturday. How do they cope on a daily basis?

I was lucky - only lost friends, not family. I couldn't imagine

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Caught in Car During a Bushfire

This MAY have happened because you left too late, it MAY have happened because you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it MAY have happened because you weren’t aware of your surroundings. DO NOT whatever you do enter an area that is under threat of fire in any circumstances, this could result in death, even if this means not saving your dog, horse or cattle. By the time you have got to them, if you can get to them – it may very well be too late.

This is the truth – but if you are going into a bushfire prone area (anything with the word bush in it, would indicate that) you must take with you – Woolen blankets, sturdy gloves, sturdy shoes, water (and plenty of it) These are the bare minimum. I carry these with me all the time – they are handy not just for bushfires but for road accidents, spills, there are many many uses.
If you are caught in the unfortunate position of being in the car whilst an active fire is approaching DO NOT LEAVE the vehicle. Remain in the vehicle. IF you are able to see (which often you can’t) a building preferably made of brick; approach that building IN THE CAR. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE. Once you can positively determine you can access the building ONLY THEN, exit the vehicle. BUT ONLY IF YOU CAN 110% confirm access to the building with no time to spare.

If you cannot see a building, move to the side of the road, preferably with the front of the car facing the oncoming fire, somewhere clear of leaf litter and overhanging trees IF POSSIBLE. Somewhere like an oval, a car park, a paddock. Turn your headlights on, turn your hazard lights on. Turn the engine OFF, which is recommended by fire authorities. Wind up the windows and try and seal the vents as best you can, to prevent smoke entering the vehicle and hopefully stop the air being sucked out.. Make sure you can access the water, gloves, and woollen blanket, this is now what might just save your life.

Radiant heat is what kills a majority of people, before the flames even reach you. AT NO STAGE leave the vehicle, even if the plastic starts melting. Remember anything metal and plastic inside the vehicle will be RED-HOT and possibly melting. Grab the blanket, hopefully one for each occupant (Dreaming I know) Wrap it as tight as possible, covering fingers, ears, hands and feet. Get as low in the vehicle as possible, this will negate some of the radiant but not very much. DO NOT LEAVE THE VEHICLE AT ANY STAGE. YOU WILL DIE.

Once the front has passed – the ground will be black, and the active flame will have passed, objects will still be burning, but you will be stepping out onto blackened ground. REMEMBER EVERYTHING WILL BE HOT. PLASTIC WILL BE MELTED. The door could very well be melted in place, so be very careful. Exit the vehicle with EXTREME caution or you will be burned by hot metal OR molten plastic from the car trimmings.

DO NOT leave the area of your vehicle, the closer you stay the sooner you will be found. Remove from the vehicle anything you require, water, phones, food, anything that can be of any use. REMEMBER HOT, You have survived this far, do not be stupid. Sometimes the car tyres will be on fire. DO NOT WASTE YOUR water. Leave it burn. The car will be written off anyway because of the melting.

DO NOT LEAVE THE AREA OF THE VEHICLE. You will be found.

The area will still be extremely hot, keep the blanket around you, sip water and wait. DO NOT LEAVE THE AREA.

Please keep in mind that people perished because they left too late and when they went to access the vehicle, they were unable to do so, because the handles were too hot, OR the door had already melted shut. This is the sad truth. I saw cars keys in the ignition, with the trim melted, hub caps, but the tyres were still intact and I know that people died  - Those cars were their last chance to get out and it was too late.

Pay attention to your surroundings, pay attention the weather, if you don’t think you can protect your property, both mentally and physically GET OUT and GET OUT EARLY. Do as the fire services recommend AND GET OUT.

Do not place your family in the position of danger or not knowing. It is not worth it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Things NOT to do when confronted by a bushfire

Point Form:-

1
DO NOT rely on help coming to you when you need it.

2
DO NOT use the bathroom as a refuge – it has no external doors and could be a killer.

3
DO NOT use a body of water elevated above ground level as a refuge – it could rupture.

4
DO NOT wait until the flames are visible before leaving your property.

5
DO NOT knowingly drive INTO the flames, people could be trying to escape and be on the wrong side of the road.

6
DO NOT continue to drive when the smoke gets too thick, even experienced fire-fighters have missed turn-offs.

7
DO NOT wear any man-made material that could melt, when fighting fires.

8
DO NOT wear thongs, singlets and t-shirts.

9
DO NOT leave animals in cars, waiting until the last moment, the heat or smoke may kill them, if the flames don’t.

10
DO NOT think that once the initial fire front has passed the danger is over. It could come back at you with a wind change.

11
DO NOT rely on mobile phone communications, when the fire comes it takes those towers out.

12
DO NOT rely on friends and family being able to come to your rescue as the fire approaches.

13
DO NOT rely on electricity or water supplies, they could fail at ANY time.

I know I keep nagging and perhaps you are getting sick of it – but if ONE person, only ONE person, manages to remember anything from this blog – and it aids in their survival then I have succeeded in saving one persons’ life.

Take care

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Are YOU prepared for a bushfire?

Things that YOU need to do IF you are planning on staying and fighting.

Fill EVERY receptacle you can find with water – I mean EVERY single one. This is first and foremost BEFORE you do anything else. Reason for this is if you are on town water – it is likely the water supply will fail. If you are relying on tank water – it is possible that the electricity will fail due to a power failure and you will not have access to your stored water OR a fitting MAY fail.

I don’t say this lightly – FILL EVERY receptacle, even your plastic wheelie bins.

Not everyone will have a generator, or a fire pump, but IF you do, put it in a protected place, somewhere away from direct heat IF possible. For example mine will be against the house, in a service area, that is dug down. This will not stop the generator or pump being heat affected, but it just maybe what saves our lives. Our water tanks have been set up with outlets in this service area – purely for this purpose.

Secondly, string mops and buckets, these are excellent in helping reducing spot fires. Also if you have a backpack that you might use for spraying weedicide etc,, flush it out and fill with water. This is something that uses very little water and has great effect.

Drinking water – make sure you have as much water available as possible. If this means filling every pot and pan so you have water to drink then do it.

Goggles, woollen beanies, thick woollen socks, boots and woollen clothing, leather gloves – MUST all be donned BEFORE the fire approaches. It may be hot – but it might just save your life.

Remove all door mats from around the door steps, remove all clothing off clothes lines. Put your deck furniture inside, away from direct heat. Dampen everything down that you can. If you can stuff the gutter downpipes with tennis balls (padded with fabric) and fill the spouting with water. This will stop burning debris from entering the pipes and causing the property from burning inside out. Turn sprinklers on around the property, this water may prevent bushes from catching fire and causing more of a threat.

If you have gas bottles, turn the bottles off, leave mounted AND connected, ensuring that the escape (vent) holes are pointing away from the building. Several houses were lost due to gas bottles venting into the property. If you have gas stoves, turn the valve off inside also. This may prevent the gas line from venting the gas internally. By removing the bottles, you may actually cause those bottles to turn into gas propelled rockets, so leave them attached. They are designed to vent.

If you have access to the inside of the roof, make sure it is accessible and you have a supply of water up there – I saw many houses burnt because the dust accumulated in the rafters caught fire after the initial front had passed.

I have already covered animal protection here - http://itaintalwaysso.blogspot.com/2009/10/animals-and-bushfires.html

Remember you can't/won't always be home – discuss every option available with your children BEFORE a fire threatens http://itaintalwaysso.blogspot.com/2009/10/threat-of-bushfires-your-family-and.html

Make sure your neighbours know what you are doing and make sure you know what your neighbours are doing. The number of people that were reported ‘missing’ because they failed to follow this through was horrendous. http://itaintalwaysso.blogspot.com/2009/10/be-prepared-or-prepare-to-die.html

And don’t procrastinate – it might kill you http://itaintalwaysso.blogspot.com/2009/10/fire-season-and-procrastinator.html

This is not a complete list – refer you local fire fighting agency, but these are some things that many people overlook.
A list of things that should be in your cupboard and checked every year. Battery powered radio. Canned food, fuel, goggles, sturdy boots, candles,

I have experienced all of this first hand, houses lost and saved, simply because of the actions of one person, people saved, simply because of the actions of one person, towns not evacuated due to the actions of one person. People reported missing presumed dead because they didn’t inform their neighbours what they were going to do. Houses burned hours after the initial fire front passed because of door mats or dust in the rafters. People died because they evacuated the family and then tried to save the family pet.

This advice is not finite, by no means is it complete, by no means do I recommend you stay, by no means do I recommend you go – it is a PERSONAL decision, that ONLY you can make.
If after the initial fire front has passed and you have to drive, drive with the windows down and drive slowly, there will be panicked people on the road AND people may be calling for help. Windows down and listen. Do not stop unless safe to do so. Trees that are damaged by fire will be collapsing. You will probably hear noises like gunshots – these are trees collapsing.

Take care – we are now in the official fire season for 2009/2010

Monday, October 26, 2009

Be Prepared or Prepare to Die

The above words are harsh, they are cutting, they are mean, they sound ugly. They are all of those things and more, yet I DO NOT apologise. The post below is confronting, it is meant to be and I still make no apologies for it. You want to know why? Read on.

If you have been following this blog, you know that I was involved in some form fashion with the fires of the 7th February 2009, now known as the Black Saturday Fires, but what you don’t know is that I was also affected by the Ash Wednesday. Roads closed unable to get home, unable to contact my parents, didn’t know if they were alive or dead.

The fires of Black Saturday of which many (not all) where lit by criminals, sane or otherwise, caused the deaths of 173 people. This is a sad truth – that must never be forgotten. In saying that, many people were unaware that a fire was bearing down on them. They were unaware that they were in imminent danger.

Modern living has caused most of these problems, you cocoon yourself inside with the air conditioner, the computer or the TV in the vain hope of avoiding heat. In days gone past – you would often be out at the pool, out on the verandah, just out in the shade. The open skyline visible, the sense of smell working overtime. This is no longer the case.

Many people were not aware until the power went out that there was a problem. Many neighbours do not talk to each other. The extent of contact is waving as someone drives past in the mad rush of a morning.

This post here explains some of what happened and that we looked after everyone on our street that we could – everyone on the street made sure everyone knew who was doing what, those of us that cared and had a neighbourly spirit. “The threat of bushfires, your family and particularly home alone children” http://itaintalwaysso.blogspot.com/2009/10/threat-of-bushfires-your-family-and.html

The government is trying to make up for and prevent any further events like Black Saturday by instigating an SMS based warning system. This is a good thing, but it is not the be all and end all. There is something called personal responsibility – which again I have referred to in other posts. I won’t link here – but I am sure you will find it.

If YOU aren’t responsible for your OWN actions, who is? The government? Your parents? Your teachers? Your School? – Why? – ONLY YOU are responsible for YOUR actions, ONLY YOU can know the circumstances surrounding that decision. ONLY YOU can make the decision to go or stay when confronted by fire. ONLY YOU can decide if you are fit enough, both mentally and physically to withstand the onslaught of a bushfire. ONLY YOU.

What stands between you and death most of the time? ONLY YOU.

Please if you don’t feel comfortable staying and defending your property, take what you want to save and go visit someone in the suburbs. Go to the beach. It may never happen, but it could – Please be prepared to stay and fight OR be prepared to leave and live.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Animals and Bushfires

I have spoken often of what needs to be done for humans both, before, during and after a bushfire, today I am concentrating on the animals.

Animals come in all shapes and sizes so let’s start with the small animals first.

Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Mice, Birds etc – all these animals are caged. Move these cages into the house, into a room that can be closed off and not be entered and exited during the mayhem of actively defending the property. Make sure they have food and water and there is enough space between the cages to prevent fighting.

Cats and Dogs – Get these animals inside, again in a room that is not going to be used during the fires. Make sure you have food and water available for them. If they are going to fight, separate them in different rooms. If you plan on leaving, make sure you have carry cages, leashes available and a grab bag of food etc. Just in case you have to leave.

Sheep – Corral them – in an area that is as bare as possible. Make sure they have access to water – that will continue to flow even after the fire has passed.

Horses – Remove all halters, bridles, rugs, EVERYTHING that is flammable. Anything that is metal will get EXTREMELY HOT. With our horse – we used a stirrup leather, with the excess length cut off – placed a mobile number on it in permanent marker and placed it around her neck, making sure that it was loose enough to allow the buckle to dangle below her neck, but tight enough not to slip over her head. We then put her in the paddock with the dam. DO NOT enclose horses, if something goes wrong – they have no chance of saving themselves. There was nothing else we could do.

Cattle – will stampede – All you can do – is put them in an internal paddock on the property with a water supply that won’t fail and hope they don’t push through an external fence before you can retrieve them.

Once the fire has passed and you find yourself with animals that have been burnt – you need to make fairly quick decisions regarding their welfare.

If an animal is down on the ground – it is a fair assumption there is little that can be done. IF an animal is severely burned – you will need to make a judgment call regarding their welfare. Refer to your local vet (Who will be under stress also)

Native animals are not as silly as they seem sometimes – During the recent fires – kangaroos and wallabies hopped into dams and submerged most of their bodies. Some cows also did the same thing.

There is hope – but you need to ensure their safety during the initial passing of the fire front, remembering that the noise associated with the fire will scare the animals more than the flames. After the passing of the fire watch all animals closely for signs of dehydration and breathing problems, which may not be apparent until several days after the fire.

It is critical that during fire season, you cut fire breaks, make sure that there is as little leaf litter as possible on the ground. That you have thought through all the options and are not left running down the road trying to save animals at the height of the fire. That is a certain death sentence.

Please take care and remember look, listen, prepare and survive.

Take care out there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Fire Season and the Procrastinator

We all know the procrastinator – the person who waits until the last minute, who won’t make a commitment because they just can’t; a person who sits on their hands rather than using them, because it is easier.

We have come to the time in the fire season where there is no longer time for procrastinators, there is no longer time for ‘roundtoit’ – there is no longer time for tomorrow.

Today is the day that if you live in a rural area – that you MUST clean up.

As the CFA advertise on roadside signs – “Clean Up Before Fire Does it for YOU”

We are entering a new fire season, we are entering a new summer, last summer was one that no-one wishes to be re-visited. No-one wishes for the loss of life, no-one wishes for the loss of property. No-one wishes for the heart-ache. But honestly NO-ONE is doing anything about it.

I live in an area that was a 15 degree wind change from being burnt out and then the fire proceeding right into other built-up areas with high populations. I drive past houses everyday – that with a little effort could be made safer for both the resident and certainly the neighbour.

YET nothing has been done and it is unlikely anything will be done.

This upsets me greatly – because it will be these people that cry and say I have lost everything and yet they did nothing to help themselves or their neighbours.

Black Saturday saw many houses saved only because of due diligence of the neighbours. I personally know 3 such events. I am sure there are many many more stories.

It is no good at the approach of a fire – to try and clean up then – to get on the mower, to cut the trees etc. It is too late then.

DO NOT BE A PROCRASTINATOR, get off your hands and do something about that mess, about that long grass, about the overhanging trees.

DO NOT LET 2009/10 Fire season be another killer.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How safe is the data in your safe?

Not very. Yup sounds like a contradiction – it is a contradiction. Safes are only for honest people, safes are only a place to store stuff that you don’t want anyone else to see. The sort of stuff I am talking about are the XXX rated videos of you with someone other than the person you are married to.

All safes have a fire rating, the best you can get without paying an arm and a leg (and I mean that literally) is four (4) hours, some cheaper safes are rated under that.

I’ve seen safes drilled, I’ve seen safes blown apart, I’ve seen safes burnt, I’ve seen safes look fine from the outside but when opened everything is either reduced to ashes or melted.

The polymer notes that are Australian Currency these days just melt when exposed to heat. The old paper money used to turn to char.

Don’t rely on a safe to protect your data, don’t rely on a safe to protect your wills, don’t rely on a safe to protect anything of value. Because it can’t when exposed to anything other than ‘normal’ trauma.

You’ll notice that since I started blogging, many of my blogs have been about the Black Saturday’s fires, that is because they are a big part of my life at the moment and will probably remain so for the rest of my life.

Someone was talking about data protection – computer hard drives and the like. They were saying move HD onto portable drive and just pull the drive and leave. Life is never that simple, life is never that easy. Trust me you don’t have time. Don’t rely on remembering – don’t rely on it won’t happen to you – don’t rely on off-site servers (Although better than nothing) Rely on friends and family outside the area and rely on duplicity.

I can’t be any straighter to the point – remember it may not be tomorrow, it may not be the day after, It may not be next year.

Don’t lose those precious family photos because you think you have plenty of time.

YOU DON’T HAVE ANY TIME. DO IT NOW.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Small business and your duty of care

Small business is about to be hit with another hurdle with parenting rights and responsibilities, as parents we do everything we can to protect our children, as business owners we do everything to protect our (and our employees) interest in the business.

With the awful events of Black Saturday, the government is doing everything possible to prevent massive public liability claims should anything happen. And who can blame them? These decisions will affect both large and small businesses. It will impact businesses at all levels.

An extract from the interim findings from the Royal Commission into the Bushfires that occurred on February 7th 2009, states:- 8.143 a new procedure for school closures on TFB days and days of extreme fire risk

The implications of this are enormous, using the 2009 Central Victorian Fire District as the template. There were 16 days declared days of total fire ban, of which 13 days occurred on a weekday.

The fire season runs from November to March - a break down on that is 151 days, 43 of those days are weekends, 5 public holidays, 10 days Annual leave - so from 151 days you have already lost 58 days (or 38%), now add to the mix a further 13 days for total fire ban days (8.5%), worst case scenario of an employee taking every sick day when due - that is another 3 days (2%) lost production - as an employer you have lost a further 8.5% more than budgeted of possible productivity that you, the employer has to pay for. When employees are forced to take time off work to care for children when the schools are closed, who will fill their position? Will the remaining staff become stressed at the unfairness?

The Royal commission interim report stated that parents didn’t seem to mind the schools closing due to fire risks this year. But I think the shock of the whole event, forced people to re-think priorities for a short period of time. Eventually people will have to put finances before safety.

As an employer, does this leave you open to litigation if something happens and it is claimed that you forced the employee to attend work that day?

Will you be forced to look at the address of a prospective employee to avoid issues with absenteeism? What happens if the employee moves into a high risk area and have a young family?

So many questions and so little time – in fact only 14 days to the next fire season.

http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/documents/debrief_report_final.pdf
http://www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/Interim-Report

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The threat of bushfires, your family and particularly home alone children

From the time my children could understand I have drummed into them need for them to be aware of their surroundings, to be able to think outside the square, to be able to survive in this dog eat dog world.

I grew up in an area that one day would burn due to a bushfire – it was only a matter of time before fiction became truth. That time was Feb 7th 2009.

I was in the middle of the fires, one way or another, I don't wish it upon anyone, but that is not why I am writing this post – My darling daughter on the day was home with us on that day and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We had the cars packed and ready to go – we had organised the elderly neighbours to leave with us in our cars. My intentions were to allow my 17yo to drive her car with one neighbour and I would take my son and another couple with me and then I would return once everyone was safe.

Thankfully it didn’t get to that – touch wood – we were very lucky.

What makes me write this is that my children are older 17yo and 12yo and sometimes we will leave them at home together. I have drummed into them from the time they could understand that if a fire threatens. Go to the dam, someone will come and get you.

My daughter said “when do we go?” – My response - When you can see or smell smoke. I said take a picnic and go down – take the woollen blanket and sit under the trees. Eat, go swimming, someone will come and get you.

“What happens if the fire comes?” – My response, Get in the water and wait for someone to come.

“What about the house?” Response, don’t worry about the house, we can build a bigger and better one when we get the insurance money.

“Who will come and get us?” Response - mum or dad.

It was some weeks after the fires and my daughter and I were driving through a fire affected area and randomly she said “Thanks mum for telling me about the dam, I wouldn’t have thought to do that. I felt safe knowing that someone would come and get us and that I knew what to do.”

My daughter lost many friends from her school in the fires of Black Saturday, I lost many people that I know also, but it is harder for children, even older ones.

Just writing this has bought tears to my eyes. Thinking of what has been,. What might have been, what was.

Please have a fire plan ready, to cover all eventualities. Make sure your children and family know how to contact you if the mobile towers no longer work. Organise a meeting place, somewhere where EVERYONE knows to call/go to in an emergency.

Discuss it openly. Don’t think ‘Oh, its okay we talked about it last year.’

Talk about it NOW. Talk about it often. Sometimes in times of stress you forget long ago conversations. Keep it fresh in everyones’ minds

Thursday, October 1, 2009

If you were hit by a bus tomorrow…………

And you were to depart this mortal earth. What would happen to your emails, your facebook account, you twitter account?

Does your online presence suddenly become inactive and your inbox full?

Have you left instructions for your partner, children or parents to act upon if something was to happen?

Are your passwords written down somewhere that is easily located?

Have you even thought about this?

I had an online friend, who had been sick for sometime, I knew that things weren’t brilliant, but I didn’t expect “D” not to be around.

I had replied to an email that had been sitting in my inbox for maybe 2 weeks, I did not receive an immediate reply, which is not unusual with online friends.

After about 3 weeks, I started trying locate “D” using the information that I had. I found out that she had belonged to various groups and subsequently I emailed said groups. I did not receive a reply.

It must have been about 2 weeks later that I received a reply from “D’s” daughter saying that “D” was no longer with us and that the email account would be shut down within a 1-2 week time-frame. I am assuming this was to allow people like myself to get answers as to why “D” was not responding emails.

The reply I received was fairly bland, just stating the facts. I suppose having known “D” online for 2-3 years, I expected something more personal. I’m not sure, but even now it leaves me sad that I didn’t have a proper chance to say goodbye – even if it was sending flowers or a card to the funeral.

I wonder what happened to “D’s” memberships to forums and the like where she had groups of friends that she knew. I wonder what happened to people like me – who knew her and we shared to jokes, the good times and the bad. Was everyone advised of “D’s” demise, or were emails just bounced back when the email address became inactive?

Have you taken precautions to ensure that your online friends are advised when there is a problem or when you may not be able to respond any longer?
Have you shown those that will be responsible for your affairs after your demise, how to access all your groups and facebook accounts and say goodbye?

Have you formatted a goodbye?

I have all the URL’s and passwords written down in a notebook, but I haven’t shown, nor told anyone.

My darling husband has no idea how to switch the computer on let alone log in and send a message.

I think my will is going to have an added extra piece of paper stuck inside the front cover tonight – stating my ‘other’ wishes, not abidable by law, but certainly something that has to be done upon my death.

And what happens to my domain names? – are they allowed to expire and there be no more me on the net – or will in 20-30 years time, people pursuing the family history only to find references to me that look and perhaps feel current?

The weirdness of it all – oh what to do?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thank-you

Thank-you – This is another word that has the strength of Superman. It is such a simple word, made up of 8 letters.

It can be so powerful, it does, has and will bring tears to the recipients eyes. Now this isn’t always the case, but it cases of heightened emotions, these 8 little letters can do exactly that.

A child receiving a gift for their birthday, says thank-you in acknowledgement of the gift.

A person who receives good news, says thank-you, knowing that their prayers have been answered.

Often though, a person will not say thank-you to the person who makes the coffee, who clears the tables, or even mops the floors. These people are considered ‘invisible’. They are there to serve. Not to be acknowledged.

I find this attitude very disturbing. Just because someone is paid to do something that involves face-to-face contact in providing that service, does not that make them any different to the person behind the phone, who answers your questions?

I make a point of saying thank-you to those that ‘serve’ me – I make a point of saying thank-you to those that clear the tables. They are human just like you and me. I have taught my children to say thank-you for a service rendered, no matter how small.

My husband and I went out for dinner the other night and we sat down at the table. The meal was nice. The food was good. When the crockery was cleared from the table, both my husband and myself said thank-you and we did it together.

When the meal was finished, we said thank-you for the nice meal, please pass our compliments to the chef.

The waitress seemed a little stunned. – I can’t say I blame her, the tables around us – I don’t believe I heard the word, please or thank-you pass the lips of other diners.

It doesn’t matter if you are eating in the local café or the most expensive restaurant in your area. A good meal, just like at home needs to be acknowledged and the person who cooked it should be thanked. The person who clears the tables and the person who washes the dishes also needs to be thanked. It’s a simple word that goes so far.

Next time someone holds that door for you – say thank-you, make the giver realize that their efforts are appreciated and next time perhaps you could hold the door open for someone else.

A simple 8 letter word can mean so much.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

“A Trouble shared is a trouble halved”

Was just talking to someone about the dust storms in Sydney and realized that the reason they send shivers down my spine is that days after Ash Wednesday a dust storm rolled over Melbourne. I was a teenager at the time and was unable to get home due to the risk of fires and was staying with relatives in the ‘big smoke’ – Association by memory is probably the best way to describe it.

Just looking back over my life and the memories of said life! – and it is amazing the number of events both locally and world-wide that I have witnessed or been one of the first to know.

Ash Wednesday (1983)– couldn’t get home, had to bunk with relatives in the city. Didn’t know if family had survived, communication was jammed.

Dust Storms (1983) – was in the city when this happened and saw the clouds rolling over the top of us.

Russell Street Bombing (1986) – Was in the basement of building approx 500m from the site of the bombing. I can still ‘hear’ the recoil of the air pressure.

Hoddle Street Shootings (1987) – Drove along Hoddle street moments before the shooting, think I heard a shot, but wasn’t aware until work called and asked if I had got home okay!

World Trade Centre (USA) (2001) – I was up watching something on TV when the show was interrupted to bring live footage on that horrible horrible event. People woke up and found out about it – I didn’t sleep.

Floods (2003) – Northern Suburbs – the worst flooding in 100 years. I was watching buildings in Heidelberg be inundated.

Black Saturday (2009) – I was in the middle of it

These are the BIG events that almost everyone is aware of, if you are a resident of Victoria.

Have I had my fair share or have I had more than my fair share?

Only God knows. Simply due to the fact that people won’t talk about these sorts of events due to the flashbacks and memories. Trust me – the ONLY way to cope is to talk about them. Allows you to realize that it may not be as bad as you first thought.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weather

We curse it. We love it. We hate it. We love the sunshine, we hate the rain, we hate the sunshine, we love the rain.

The weather can do no right.

It seems no matter what the weather does it is wrong.

It rains and people complain that everything is wet and nothing dries. It rains and people say that it is ruining the outdoor events and causing traffic accidents and flooding.

If the sun is out, people complain it is too hot, people complain that it is too bright.

People are never happy with the weather.

What made me write this blog is that weather warnings have been issued nation-wide for Australia.

In February 2009 there was too much water in the Northern states and severe flooding occurred. In the Southern states it was too hot and there were massive bushfires that destroyed life and property.

El Nino is blamed for these weather patterns. Global warming is blamed for the El Nino. The blame lies with the weather so we are told.

Some people say that Mother Earth is just going through growing pains. Others are saying that we the humans are killing her.

Some say population control is the answer to everything, others say that air travel is the cause.

I don’t know about you – but I try and do my little bit for earth and for my neighborhood and my state and country. Some people call us mad, others say why bother.

The weather can not be controlled regardless of what scientists tell us.
Perhaps it is global warming, perhaps it is a thinning of the ozone layer.

Mother Earth is suffering, we all recognize that, but is it another stage of her growing up? Is this a warning of things to come?

Are we on the precipice of the decline of the human race?

The weather is nature and nature is harsh – we all know that. Perhaps now is the time to consider that the weather is not all it’s cracked up to be and perhaps it is no longer a ‘safe’ topic of conversation as it is was once considered.