Why People Die in Bushfires
Many people who have died in bushfires were caught by the fire in the open, either in their cars or on foot, and were burned to death. Sadly, many were caught because they decided to flee at the last minute. In many cases, the homes they fled survived the bushfire.
Others have died when they have stayed to defend poorly prepared homes. Others have died when they have stayed to defend generally well-prepared homes and properties unable to withstand a fire burning under ‘extreme’ or ‘catastrophic’ fire danger conditions.
Others have died when they have remained and sheltered passively in their homes, which have then caught fire. Some sheltered in their baths, thinking this was a safe place to be, but were unable to get out of the bathroom and escape as their home burned down.
Others were unaware of the frightening conditions they would experience, and become overwhelmed and panicked, leading to poor decision-making and death.
If you don't have time to leave the bushfire-affected area safely, and it's unsafe to stay at home, you should go to a nearby safer place identified in your bushfire survival plan.
A properly prepared home can be defended by able-bodied people under most conditions.
However, Tasmania Fire Service recommends that you should not plan to defend your home when the fire danger rating exceeds 50 (severe) in your area unless you have created a defendable space and ember-proofed your home.
Tasmania Fire Service recommends that you should not plan to defend your home when the fire danger rating exceeds 75 (extreme) in your area unless your home has a defendable space and has been designed and built specifically to withstand a bushfire.
Tasmania Fire Service recommends that you should not plan to defend your home on days when the fire danger rating exceeds 100 (catastrophic) in your area, even if your home has a defendable space and has been designed and built specifically to withstand a bushfire.
Exceptions to these rules are when firefighters have assessed (triaged) your home on the day a fire is threatening it, and have advised you that it may be defendable. This recognises that even on days with severe, extreme or catastrophic fire danger ratings, some well-prepared and constructed homes may be defendable due to their location. For example, a home surrounded by several hectares of ripening crops, ploughed fields or heavily-grazed paddocks may be safe to defend.