Claudia Bouma — 25 January 2016

It was during our recent camping trip to South Australia that I was confronted with the reality of bushfire danger and the potential dramatic consequences.

Staying at Jetty Caravan Park in Normanville, 75km south of Adelaide, we heard about the devastating fires north of SA’s capital city. I suddenly realised I simply wasn’t prepared to deal with such disasters, yet they are a daily threat during the bushfire season.

As a mother of four I have a responsibility to protect my children and it starts with being up to date with what’s happening. I soon discovered that each state has its own fire app so I quickly downloaded the Victorian and South Australian ones.

These apps provide a quick and easy way to check the fire danger rating for the particular area you’re staying in. It also means you can look at the rating for a place you want to visit on an extended day trip.

Next, I familiarised myself with the fire danger ratings. The ratings go from low-moderate to high, very high, severe, then to extreme and, finally, code red. The first three ratings focus on the necessity of having a bushfire survival plan in place.

In severe conditions, a well-prepared home that is actively defended can provide safety. This is, however, a very different story when you’re living in a caravan or a camper trailer.

In situations of extreme fire danger, it is recommended that only people who are prepared to the highest level and who reside at a property that has been constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire should stay. Caravans and camper trailers are obviously not built to withstand a bushfire so extreme fire danger is a huge threat.

Code red means no property can withstand a bushfire in the catastrophic circumstances. The best option is to leave high bushfire risk areas the night before or early in the morning.

At that stage we didn’t have a bushfire survival plan in place so I made it a priority to sit down with hubbie and the kids to make one so we all know what to do when the time comes. Do you have a bushfire survival plan?

And what do you do when you’re on holidays and a code red has been declared? The CFA website suggests the following:

You need to decide: 

  • When you will leave
  • Where you will go
  • How you will get there
  • When you will return
  • What you will do if you cannot leave.

In our case we would have to make the decision to pack up the camper trailer as soon as a code red has been declared in order to give us enough time to get all our gear sorted.

If you own a caravan, you have the advantage of being able to quickly pack up all your gear and leave the area. It is still important though to discuss who’s going to do what so everything gets done efficiently and without panicking.

 Enjoy your next holiday but make sure you’re fire savvy so everyone stays safe.


bushfire fire danger fires


Chris Bouma