SPF Blog


Believe it or not, but one of the first things astronauts noticed when they first ventured into space in the 1960s was plumes of bushfire smoke. Fires and volcanoes were all reaching high into the atmosphere and stretching much farther than the human imagination had fathomed before. Five decades later, the views from the space craft are not as novel but still just as spectacular. They are brilliant and useful reminders of how events in one place on the planet can have reaching effects far from the source.

Australia’s Northern Territory is in the midst of the dry season. The season lasts from roughly just after Easter to early May to September, and rainfall barely exceeds 10 millimetres (1 centimetre) for the month in August. Though the region sits well within the tropics, the relative afternoon humidity hovers around 30 to 40 percent in August, with maximum temperatures in the low 30’s (Celsius)

While driving in the Northern Territory, it is not uncommon to see fires burning on the roadside or in nearby bush land. These fires are usually ‘prescribed’, controlled burns, which are conducted by the emergency services to control the spread of wildfire. Some fires have been lit by the local aboriginal communities in keeping with tradition. These fires should not be cause for alarm. It is generally when there are houses and people involved or nearby that there is cause for concern.

Bushfire smoke can harm health, causing breathing issues and coughing. It’s worse for vulnerable groups like the elderly, young, and those with health conditions. These include asthma, lung conditions, heart and cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and pregnancy. When driving through smoke remember to adjust your air conditioner so that it recycles air in the car rather than coming from outside and keep your windows up and take notice of any instructions from emergency services.

To prevent the risk of bushfire while camping, take note of fire restrictions in the area. Light fires only in fireplaces and fire pits that are provided and never leave a fire unattended. It is always helpful to keep some water close by and be careful to fully extinguish the fire when finished.

There are days that are deemed to pose a high risk of fire, these days may be declared ‘Total Fire Ban’ days. On these days, there is a total ban on lighting fires in the open. These ‘Total Fire Bans’ will be announced in the local media, usually on the radio and in the local press.

Remember that as lovely as the Northern Territory and Darwin landscape is, it can be a risk to your person or others if you do not think ahead and use some caution.

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