Staying safe in the car
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Staying safe in the car

Driving during a bushfire is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury or death; always plan to leave early to avoid this situation.

Cars driving down a smoke covered road

How to protect yourself

Take the following actions if you encounter smoke or flames and are not able to turn around and drive to safety.

  • Position the car to minimise exposure to radiant heat:

    • Park away from dense bush – try to find a clearing.
    • If possible, park behind a barrier such as a wall or rocky outcrop.
    • The car should ideally face towards the oncoming fire front.
    • Park off the roadway and turn hazard lights on. Car crashes are common in bushfires due to poor visibility
  • To increase your chances of survival
    • Stay in the car, and tightly close windows and doors.
    • Cover up with woollen blankets and get down below window level – this is your highest priority.
    • Drink water to prevent dehydration.      
  • As soon as you become aware that the fire front is close by:
    • Shut all vents and turn the air conditioning off 
    • Turn the engine off

Be prepared: if you drive in bushfire-prone areas, keep woolen blankets in your car. This is an essential precaution during the warmer months.

Footage inside a car showing what an ember attack looks like during a major bushfire.

Footage from Canberra fires 2003 provided for use by CFA for community safety educational use courtesy Nine Network.

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