DFES - Department of Fire and Emergency Services
000 for fire or life threatening emergencies
132 500 for SES emergency assistance
13 DFES (13 3337) for emergency information
General enquiries | Hearing or speech impaired contacts
SHARE: Refer this page to a friend

Travel Information

 

Driving during a bushfire

During Western Australia’s (WA) bushfire season in the south west from October to April and north west WA from June to late October, people travelling throughout the state need to remain alert and be informed about weather conditions.

Bushfires need vegetation to burn. They start in areas where there is scrub, dry grass or lots of trees.

Fires can burn in forests, coastal scrub, farm and grass lands. These types of vegetation are commonly known as high bushfire risk areas.

Travelling during a bushfire is dangerous and could be life threatening.

Before you travel

If you intend to travel into or through bushfire prone regions, you must plan ahead.

  • Always carry maps of the area you are entering and know the exit routes
  • Check the weather forecast and Fire Danger Ratings (FDR) for the areas you plan to visit
  • Listen to ABC local radio for news about where bushfires are burning
  • Check for current fire restrictions and if a Total Fire Ban (TFB) is in place for the areas you plan to visit
  • Be prepared to reassess your plans and visit low risk areas on days where weather conditions are unpredictable
  • Store a woollen blanket and drinking water in the car

If you see a bushfire in the distance, pull over to the side of the road and assess the situation. If it is safe to do so turn around and drive away from the smoke.

Always follow the directions of police and firefighters if they are present.

Back to top

Smoke

If there is a lot of smoke:

  • Slow down and be aware that there could be people, vehicles and livestock on the road
  • Turn car headlights and hazard lights on
  • Close windows and outside vents

If you cannot see clearly:

  • Pull over to the side of the road
  • Stop your vehicle
  • Keep your headlights and hazard lights on
  • Wait until the smoke clears

Back to top

Positioning your car if you are trapped by a fire

  • Find a clearing away from dense bush
  • Where possible park behind a natural barrier such as a rocky outcrop inside your car
  • Find a suitable place to park away from vegetation if possible and prepare to shelter in your car from the bushfire’s radiant heat.
  • Stay inside your car,it offers the best level of protection from the radiant heat as the fire front passes, unless there's a well protected building nearby
  • Turn headlights and hazard warning lights on to make the car as visible as possible
  • Park in an area of low or no vegetation with the vehicle orientated towards the oncoming fire front
  • Turn the engine off
  • Close the doors and windows
  • Shut all the air vents and turn the air conditioning on to 'full' and 'recirculate'
  • Drink water to minimise the risks of dehydration
  • Lie on the floor and cover your body with any available woollen or cotton blankets or cloth
  • Do not get out or open windows until the fire front has passed
  • For emergency assistance, call triple zero (000)

Back to top

When the fire front passes

  • As the fire front passes, heat, smoke and embers will increase
  • Smoke will enter the car and fumes will be released from interior plastics.
  • Stay as close to the floor as possible to minimise inhalation of fumes and cover your mouth with a moist cloth
  • Tyres and external plastic body parts may catch alight. In more extreme cases the car interior may catch on fire
  • If possible, stay in the car until the fire front has passed and the temperature has dropped outside
  • Fuel tanks are very unlikely to explode
  • Once the fire front has passed and the temperature has dropped, carefully exit the car, take care as metal parts will be extremely hot
  • Move to a safe area such as a strip of land that has already been burnt
  • Stay covered in woollen blankets, continue to drink water and wait for assistance

Back to top

What if I encounter a bushfire while on foot?

  • Do not panic
  • Move to clear or already burnt ground
  • Don't try to run uphill
  • Stay low and seek shelter behind a log, rocky outcrop or embankment to protect yourself from radiant heat
  • If your clothes catch fire, don't run. Stop, drop, cover your face and roll over and over to extinguish the flames

Back to top

Publications:

Back to top

 

 Your feedback on this content is appreciated

 
Was this information useful?