How To Create Bushfire Escape Plan

Bushfires are a very real threat in Australia and this has been proven time and time again during our hot Australian summers. December 2019 through to January 2020 was an especially volatile time with increased fire activity due to several years of drought conditions.

There are many ways to plan for a fire but sometimes the fires can get so bad that the only course of action is to evacuate and you may lose your home and all of your possessions to the fire. If this happens you will be very glad that you have your fire preparedness plan done and your bags ready to pick up and go when the time comes.

Everybody’s needs vary and this must be taken into consideration when developing your fire bug out plan. Here are the main points that you will need to consider when making your decisions.


Where Are You Going?

  • You will need to plan what your final destination will be and consider what resources will be available there to make sure you don’t waste space by packing non-essentials.

  • You should also have a backup plan and be aware of any local government evacuation centres that may be able to take you in if you can’t make it to your original destination.

  • Don’t rely ONLY on evacuation centres as in extreme cases they can become overcrowded, abandoned or even destroyed.


How Will You Get There?

  • Depending on if you plan to travel by car, bike, boat, on foot or any other mode of transport, you will need to take this into account when deciding how much weight you can carry and even the type of bag you will be using.

  • Again you should have a backup plan, and if you are planning on driving you can carry more gear but if you become stranded for any reason you should be prepared to leave the car on foot with a lightweight bag of bare essentials.

  • Consider the route you will take to your destination and make sure you have alternative routes planned in case the roads are blocked or closed.

What Essential Items Do You Need To Bring?

  • This can vary greatly depending on your needs and the needs of your family and friends in your group.

  • Consider the importance of essential medications and survival items, it may be hard but these will need to take priority over sentimental items.

  • Fire emergencies are generally short-lived so food is a luxury item and unless there is a medical reason it should not be a priority.

  • Babies require a whole extra level of preparedness in the event of a bushfire, particularly if they are bottle-fed. You will need to make sure you have enough formula, clean bottles, and nappies to last at least 48 hours.


What About After The Fire?

  • We are all about planning ahead and even though your immediate short term survival is the main priority you may want to think about things to make life easier after the fire has passed.

  • If you do witness your property burning from a safe distance it may help to take a quick photo or video to help in case you run into any issues with your insurance claim.

  • Essential documents to prove your identity and proof of insurance can be very important and should be included if you have the space to carry them.


What Items Should Be Included In Your Fire Bug-Out-Bag

We need to consider what are the absolute essentials to keep yourself and your family alive in the event of a catastrophe where you are stranded with fire around you and maybe cut off from help for up to 48 hours. These essentials should be packed into their own bag separate from everything else and able to be carried on foot if required. After this, we are able to put together other sentimental and less essential items that can be abandoned at home or in the car if required.

You will be able to find a lot of the contents of this bag by looking around your home so you just need to put it together and have it ready to go in case you have to leave. You can add items as you wish but remember that if it comes down to having to survive out of this bag for a day or so, it will be as a last resort because the rest of your plan to get to safety has failed. You will want this to be lightweight and easy to carry.


The Bag

  • A comfortable backpack is the best option as it is the easiest to carry if you end up on foot and need to move quickly.

  • Make sure it is sized correctly. If you choose a bag that is too big you may end up adding unnecessary items that will weigh you down.


Fire/Heat Protection

  • Pure Wool Blankets - Wool is naturally resistant to fire and is a great insulator from heat, you should aim to have at least one pure wool blanket per person.

  • Clothing:

    • Fire retardant clothing is essential for surviving close encounters with a bushfire.

    • You should aim for pure wool clothing as it is the most effective.

    • Military surplus gear can be a cost-effective way to buy this kind of clothing.

    • Flight suits and racing suits are some other options for fire retardant clothing.

  • Breathing Protection:

    • Disposable P2 respirator masks are lightweight and easy to carry, they provide some protection from fine smoke particles and are most effective when fitted properly.

    • Reusable half or full face masks are another option which you could consider but they are considerably heavier and take up more space. Full face masks are also effective as eye protection.

    • A self-contained breathing apparatus such as used by firefighters is generally not a viable option for most people due to the size, weight, and the considerable amount of training required to operate safely.



  • You should aim for at least 6 litres of water per person to get you through 48 hours. Carry more if you can.

  • Flexible water bladders are a great way to carry bulk quantities of water.

  • A lot of extra water is required for babies, both for feeding and cleaning so you should carry as much water as you can in this case.

  • Make sure you have a high-quality water bottle that will not leak for drinking on the go. Stainless steel is a good option.

  • Water purification methods should be included if you will have access to a river, dam or creek.



  • You may be cut off from home for an extended period of time so you should carry at least 2 weeks worth of all prescription medications, this will give you time to sort out a new prescription if needed later on.

  • Daily pillboxes are a great idea and will help you remember what you have taken already.

  • Over the counter pain medications such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, and antihistamines are lightweight and it is worth carrying a small supply.

  • If you have somebody in your family with severe allergies you should include an Epipen.


First Aid

  • If you end up in a situation where you are cut off and living out of your bag for any period of time then things have not gone to plan somewhere along the line and it is likely that first aid treatment may be required.

  • Don’t rely solely on an off the shelf first aid kit unless you have properly checked the contents and made sure it has everything you need.

  • Serious burns are difficult to treat and require specialist medical attention, burns can become infected very easily so evacuation should be the first priority after initial stabilisation.

  • Typical burn first aid treatment requires you to apply clean running water to the burn for 20 minutes. If you don’t have access to this much water you can use a clean container to catch water that is poured onto the burn and repeat the process.

  • Essential Kit Contents:

    • Bandages - These can be used to secure a dressing onto burns or wounds.

    • Burn Gel - This can be very effective for treating pain from minor burns.

    • Burn Dressings - Specialised dressings are available to treat burns.

    • Non-adhesive Dressings - These can be used for both burns and bleeding wounds.

    • Painkillers - Ibuprofen and Paracetamol are effective in managing pain caused by burns.

    • Space Blanket - This can be used to treat patients who are in shock or hypothermic which can become a real issue with burn victims who can't self regulate their body temperature.

    • Medical Tape - Used to secure bandages and dressings.

    • Disposable Gloves

  • Cling wrap is a very effective alternative burn dressing, just make sure to lay it loosely over the burn, if it is wrapped tightly it can cause constriction when swelling occurs.



  • Even in bushfire conditions, you should be prepared for all weather conditions, the rain would be a welcome sight but you will still want to be comfortable.

  • Shelter Items:

    • Lightweight Tarp - You will need to practice rigging this up as a shelter

    • Emergency Bivvy - These reflect body heat and protect you from the elements

    • Mosquito Net - This is compact and lightweight and makes things a lot more comfortable

    • Paracord - A versatile rope that is extremely strong and will help in setting up your shelter

  • There are many more lightweight shelter options designed for lightweight hiking and trekking and you could include them but these bare essentials will get you through the worst of it.

  • Your wool blanket is another item that will be a useful shelter item.


Communication and Signalling

  • The ability to communicate and ask for help during a bushfire emergency can be critical in saving your life

  • Your mobile phone is an effective communication tool but will not always work during a fire so a backup is a good idea.

  • A handheld UHF radio is effective even if the power is out and mobile phones aren’t working, as long as someone on the other end is listening.

  • If you have an EPIRB device it would be a good idea to include it in your kit.

  • An LED torch with a strobe or signal function is effective over long distances at night.

  • Signal mirrors are useful during the day and can be seen over long distances. The need for this item will depend on how far you might end up from civilisation. 

  • Make sure you have charged batteries for any electronic communication devices.



  • This should not be your highest priority and you should make sure you have sufficient water before adding food.

  • Add foods that you would normally eat if possible, you don’t want an upset stomach to compound your problems.

  • Pick items that store well, are calorie-dense and require no preparation. Some suitable items include:

    • Muesli/Nut Bars

    • Canned Tuna/Chicken

    • Trail Mix

    • Peanut Butter

    • Sugar Lollies

    • Chocolate

    • Jerky



  • A small LED torch is very handy at night and is an essential part of your kit, there are several different types to choose from.

  • Having a backup light source is a good idea in case one of them stops working.

  • Lighting Sources

    • Handheld Torch - Most people will already have this at home and if not you should get one.

    • Lantern - Modern LED lanterns can be very compact and are best suited for when you set up camp.

    • Headlamp - This is probably the most versatile option that allows you to keep your hands free whilst providing a good amount of light.

  • Make sure your batteries are charged and ready to go


A Quick And Easy Gear List

  • Pure wool blanket

  • 3x Disposable P2 respirators

  • Water bladder 3-5L

  • 2x 1L Water bottles

  • Prescription medications

  • Over the counter medications

  • First aid kit

  • Lightweight tarp

  • Survival bivvy

  • Mosquito net

  • Paracord

  • Mobile phone

  • Handheld radio

  • LED Torch with strobe function

  • Signal mirror

  • Food

Now you know everything you need in order to be prepared for the worst. Dont leave it until it is too late before getting your plan together, you can throw most of this gear together in a short period of time if you get caught out but the seconds count when dealing with large fires so it pays to be prepared well in advance.

Make sure to discuss your fire plan with your family and even your close neighbours and do your best to ensure everybody is as prepared as possible, everybody being up to date on the plan is essential if you want to keep the risk of injury or death to a minimum.


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