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