Virtual reality film shows terrifying reality of bushfires

image copyrightVicEmergency
image captionThe simulation is designed to warn Australians of bushfire dangers

Australian authorities have released a virtual reality recreation of nightmare bushfire scenarios.

The simulation is part of an effort to encourage residents in the state of Victoria to prepare for extreme danger.

Australia's south-east is braced for a scorching weekend with temperatures forecast as high as 45C (113F), bringing dangerous fire conditions.

The virtual reality programme features three scenarios to show how responding late to a bushfire can prove fatal.

"Through this type of technology, they will be able to see the scenario of what they might be faced against and will make a better decision," state Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley told the ABC.

Australia's most deadly bushfire event, known as Black Saturday, killed 173 Victorians in 2009 after sweeping through several communities.

image copyrightVicEmergency
image captionMost bushfire deaths happen close to home, the simulation warns

The simulation begins by urging residents to decide early whether to evacuate, seek shelter, or stay and defend their property.

It then immerses the viewer in scenarios where they face walls of flames, spitting embers and smoke that inhibits sight and breathing.

It ends by saying most bushfire deaths happen close to homes.

"Leaving early on high risk days before a fire starts is the safest option. It is your responsibility to be ready this summer."

Children and those who have experienced bushfire trauma are not recommended to experience the simulation, authorities say.

Bushfire Virtual Reality Experience

Take two minutes to safely experience three likely fire scenarios on an Extreme Fire Danger Rating day, as fire surrounds a virtual home and includes many elements of a fast approaching bushfire such as ember attack, radiant heat, low oxygen levels and lack of visibility due to smoke. If a bushfire threatened your home, would you know what to do? There’s no questioning the facts, leaving early on high risk days before a bushfire starts is always the safest option. You should always monitor warnings on high risk days and check Fire Danger Ratings daily throughout summer. Be prepared: WARNING: This is a replicated bushfire scenario. Having a reaction to the experience is likely and forms part of the learning exercise, however, some people may be adversely affected, so it is recommended that you do not participate if you have suffered, or are currently impacted by any physical or mental health conditions.

Posted by Vic Emergency on Wednesday, January 3, 2018
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Extreme heat is predicted to hit south-eastern states from Friday, with state-wide fire bans issued in Victoria and Tasmania.

In September, Australians were warned to prepare for a dangerous bushfire season after one of the driest winters on record.

image copyrightBureau of Meteorology
image captionExtreme heat is forecast for parts of Australia this weekend

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