A new study has revealed a shocking truth about what some Australians would do during a bushfire.
Nearly one in three people living in high-risk areas would “wait for emergency authorities to tell them what to do before they do anything”, according to a survey by the Victorian Country Fire Authority.
The worrying revelation comes with large parts of the country at increased risk of bushfires this spring, according to the Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC).
The results of the survey left a local fire chief “alarmed”.
“They could be putting their lives at risk,” CFA chief officer Jason Hefferman told 3AW’s Drive program.
At least 34 people died in the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 that also killed or displaced around three billion animals, according to a study funded by WWF Australia.
Leaving a high-risk area early is one of the most effective ways to stay safe in a bushfire, according to the CFA’s survival guide.
“‘Leaving early’ means being away from high-risk areas before there are any signs of fire. It does not mean waiting for a warning or a siren. It does not mean waiting to see or smell smoke. And it certainly does not mean waiting for a knock on the door,” the guide says.
Mr Hefferman urged anyone in a high-risk area to have a bushfire survival plan and prepare their property by doing things like trimming overhanging branches.
Above average temperatures and below average rainfall are forecast for spring across the country, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The bureau has not formally declared an El Nino weather event, which is linked to hot, dry weather that creates an increased risk of bushfire, but says one is “likely during spring” in its most recent climate driver update.
In its seasonal bushfire outlook for spring, AFAC says more than half of the Northern Territory, Queensland and NSW are an increased risk of bushfires.
Regions in Victoria and South Australia will also need to be on high alert.
“Almost the entire country can expect drier and warmer conditions than normal this spring, so it is important for Australians be alert to local risks of bushfire over the coming months, regardless of their location” AFAC chief executive Rob Webb said in a statement.