HELPING Australians to be prepared in the face of emergencies is a passion of Bridie McLennan's.
With 25 years experience working in jobs that require a high level of safety, from a pilot, to search and rescue coordination, flying search and rescue missions and project managing aerial firefighting resources, when Ms McLennan moved to Dales Creek, wedged between the idyllic Lerderderg and Wombat forests - with an extreme bushfire attack level (BAL) - several years ago, she wanted to put together a fire ready kit.
Having lived all over Australia in various conditions and with a passion for safety and survival, Ms McLennan set out to create her own kit as per the information and advice of rural fire services. But in trying to do so, discovered sourcing the correct equipment to create a basic kit was both expensive and frustrating.
"I noticed there were a number of challenges in trying to put a kit together. The information from the fire services was fantastic but when I began to try to attain the list of 20 or so recommended items, I discovered that sometimes the information provided wasn't enough for someone without the correct knowledge."
For example, Ms McLennan said some of the state and territory guidelines stated gloves and a face mask should be included, without stating exactly what kind.
"I found it was going to cost a lot more money than I had budgeted for and would take a lot of time and effort, and I'd need to go to at least six different stores," she said.
Searching for ready-made kits, she realised there were not many options on the market.
"It was at that point the idea came to me that there is this gap between what the rural fire services advise to have and what is commercially and practically available."
Ms McLennan said the difficulty in putting together a fire ready kit may put some people off, potentially leaving many people without the basic fire safety equipment to assist with when they are evacuating during an emergency.
And so, delving into several years of further research, she set about creating her own business, Bushfire Readiness Kits, which was launched earlier this month.
With around one million Australians now living in bushfire prone areas, she said the kits closed the gap in the market by providing the basic safety and survival equipment for people in times of emergency.
With 10 painstakingly researched kits now on offer - for both families and singles - the kits are designed for people who plan to relocate or evacuate to improve their chance of survival and increase their endurance.
Equipped with the likes of face masks and goggles with smoke vents, leather gloves in case the need arises to move smouldering trees, burn and first aid kits, radios, torches, woollen blankets, high visibility vests and a check list to remind people what they need to take with them - from phone chargers, photos, medication and valuables - as well as a USB to store important documents, Ms McLennan said the kits were designed and budgeted for purpose.
They are compact - with the smaller kit fitting in a backpack - but a lot of the equipment, like a three-in-one solar or wind-up torch, radio and phone charger are suitable for all emergency situations, not just bushfires.
And all of the equipment provided is fitted with batteries.
Ms McLennan said it was still vital for people to remain updated with the information provided by fire services.
"It's important that people don't just buy a kit and think they're ready for bushfire season."
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