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6 Lessons Learned from the 2019-2020 Australian Bushfires (…so far)

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21 million acres have burned across Australia (mostly New South Wales) and over a thousand homes destroyed. The bushfires are regarded by the NSW Rural Fire Service as the worst bushfire season in memory,  with a death toll of 27 people and an economic cost of over $2 billion.

It’s a desperate situation for the people enduring it. It is also a disaster we can draw invaluable lessons from.

1) Evacuate!

The stories repeat themselves time and again. People that barely made it out. People that, all of a sudden without any idea of whats going on, where told to evacuate immediately. This Canadian family on vacations were told they just had 10 minutes to grab whatever they could and evacuate right away.

Do you have a bag ready to go?  Most Bug Out Bags you see have guns, outdoors and survival gear but are generally pretty short on passports, important documents, insurance papers, cash and at least some invaluable family heirlooms. Even laptops, tablets, these you need to communicate, send emails, read the news, access websites to fill up form, etc.

2) Have your Car Kit Ready

“In Batemans Bay, NSW, hundreds of families fled their homes Tuesday under an eerie orange sky. “It was like we were in hell,” vacationer Zoe Simmons told CNN. “We were all covered in ash.””

As explained many times, you need to keep a kit in your car and part of that kit should include wet wipes, bottled water and spare clothes for each family member.

3) “Pyrocumulonimbus” Clouds are a Thing

The brushfires in Australia are growing and have become so massive and powerful that they’re creating their own dangerous weather phenomenon. It happens through the formation of “pyrocumulonimbus” clouds — what NASA calls “the fire-breathing dragon of clouds.” These fire-induced storms bring little rain but are packed with lightning that can spark new fires. A weather alert on Monday forecast the thunderstorms over the southern Australian province of Victoria.

4) You May have to Leave your Car

At 1 a.m., the sky was bright and orange, with a glare from the fire that meant it was coming their way, Wegg said.

“It kept us up as it was also really cold which was odd from the hot day we had. The fire was heading in the direction of the parking lot. We all left our cars because the fire was coming to the campground,” she said.

5) Have Tablet or extra Gadget with games to keep Kids Busy

For six days, the family slept on a crash mat, spending their time trying to keep the kids occupied. “We managed to get our iPad plugged in and the kids had some games and shows to play,” she said.

6) Respirators, For crying out loud, Have Them

The Rule of Three exists for a reason. To remind us that without air, water, food and shelter you cant survive. Maybe the most unappreciated aspect is ironically the most vital one: Breathable air.

“Facemasks are the least useful measure, as a public health response,” said Fay Johnston from the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research.

“There’s only one sort that actually helps — that’s the P2 masks. They’re the only ones that can filter out a meaningful level of air pollution.”

These are the one mentioned in the article, FFP2 . Better yet, get a pack of FFP3 for the best protection in a folding respirator. Not cheap, but these are the ones I keep. Buy a pack, keep some in your car, EDC bag and other kits.

So as to understand better how respirators work and why ratings matter, you may also want to read:

Finally, heres a PDF worth downloading with some great points regarding Bushfire by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience. Its nice and short with great tips from people with a lot of experience dealing with fire-related disasters.

Take care people,


Check out my new Book “Street Survival Skills” . Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”


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