The warmer months are a great time to travel (helloooo holidays!), but it’s also peak season for bushfires in Australia. Concerned about road tripping through places that may experience them this summer? Fire affected areas like these? Follow our tips to stay safe while driving in bushfires season.
After the horrors of the Black Summer bushfires in Australia during 2019/20, travellers may feel a little nervous driving in bushfires-prone areas this year. But some of the worst hit places are also some of our favourite holiday destinations, and they’re back open for business. The message from the locals is clear: please visit us!
So should you go? Absolutely – but do so with thought and care. 2020 has been a tumultuous year at best, and you deserve to relax and unwind with your family and friends on a summer holiday. (Of course, keep it clean and avoid COVID-19 when on the road).
With the right preparation, travelling during the warmer months can be perfectly safe. You just need to remain alert, informed and flexible to changing your plans should the need arise.
Safety is your no.1 priority
We can’t stress this enough – please be ready to reconsider your options if there’s an existing fire within 100 kilometres of the area you intend to travel. The same applies if there is an extreme fire danger forecast for the area.
If you can be flexible and ready to change plans to help safeguard you and everyone travelling with you, you’ll limit your risk of getting caught up.
And you’ll be able to stay out of the way of Emergency Services so they can do their job in a time of crisis…
Having said that, to help you travel with confidence when driving in bushfire season, we’ve put this handy guide.
Driving in bushfire Australia: Top tips
What do you do when peak tourism season and peak bushfire season overlap? Get prepared! With the right information and planning, you’ll be able to confidently set out on a dreamy summer driving holiday – the perfect antidote to a troublesome year.
Check the weather forecast
Know what the weather is going to be doing at your destination and the areas you’ll be travelling through to get there. Check the BOM regularly, and be aware the forecast might change.
Know the fire danger rating
This includes both the area you’re travelling to and those you’re travelling through. On days of catastrophic or ‘code red’ fire danger, seriously reconsider your need to travel. Or even better, change your plans to travel to bushfire-safer areas, like larger towns.
Be aware of total fire bans and adhere to restrictions
No, you cannot have a campfire or practice your fire twirling skills, however enticing that might be. It’s vital to follow the rules of total fire bans to the letter. Ignorance can start fires and is no excuse, so get informed of the restrictions.
Check bushfire alerts
Download the official bushfire alert app for the state you’re travelling in. Follow the relevant social media accounts and monitor the associated websites. Check the alerts before you leave, and several times a day during your trip. A little bit of effort goes a long way…
Click here for a complete state-by-state list of emergency services’ websites, social media and apps, to assist you with avoiding driving in bushfires.
Monitor emergency broadcasting stations
Tune the radio or TV into the ABC or another emergency broadcaster to monitor the bushfire situation in the area you’re travelling in.
During the Black Summer fires, the ABC’s emergency broadcasting literally saved lives. Use this in conjunction with official bushfire alerts from state fire authorities.
Pack an emergency survival kit
If the worst should happen and you get caught driving in bushfires in Australia, be prepared. Always pack an emergency survival kit when travelling to bushfire prone areas in summer – when road tripping anywhere, in fact.
It should include items such as a battery-operated radio, spare batteries, a waterproof torch, a first aid kit, woollen blankets, a list of emergency numbers, non-perishable food and drinking water.
Consider also taking a UHF radio with substantial range, especially if travelling in remote areas, and know the emergency channels to use.
Plan an escape route beforehand
Planning an escape route is particularly important if you’re camping or staying somewhere remote.
Before you arrive, map out multiple routes to bushfire-safer areas. Print out maps and highlight your escape route, even if it seems unlikely you’ll need to be driving in bushfires.
If you do need to leave, do it as early as possible.
Know that your plans are at the mercy of the prevailing conditions and be willing to change them to prioritise safety.
Don’t travel on extremely hot, dry and windy days. Leave a day earlier or later if need be, or postpone your trip altogether. Don’t go camping or bushwalking on days of catastrophic or code red fire danger.
Never let your holiday plans stand in the way of your safety.
Understand the risk of grassfire
It’s not just wooded areas that pose a threat during bushfire season, grassfire can be extremely dangerous, too. These fires can be unpredictable and travel extremely quickly, so get informed here and don’t underestimate the risks.
Safety while driving in bushfires season: Be covered
As you can see, with a little pre-planning and flexibility, you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday during the bushfire season. But things don’t always go according to plan, which is why it’s important ensure your vehicle is covered.
PD Insurance provides affordable car insurance to suit your needs, whatever they might be. et the experts protect your vehicle so you can relax completely this summer holiday season. You might even want to take up our roadside assistance too, so you’re not left stranded.
Start a quote online today – it’s quick and easy, we promise.
Over to you – Driving in bushfires season
Help us help others by providing your extra tips below on how to be safe while driving in bushfires season. We’ll all benefit from the knowledge in this sunburnt country!