Saving lives through ‘Evac’ signs

A former designer and set builder in WA’s south west has invented a device he hopes will save lives during natural disasters, especially fires.

Nik Wynne of Cookernup makes the ‘Up and Go Evac Marker’ from pressed metal.

It features a sliding cover with two panels underneath – one green, one red.

They are designed to be fixed onto the front of rural properties to let firefighters know there is no-one in the house during emergencies.

In 2016, two lives were lost in the catastrophic Waroona-Yarloop bushfire, which tore through 181 homes and buildings and almost 70,000 hectares of land.

Affected area from 2016 Waroona-Yarloop bushfire.

Local fire and rescue services had the support of other brigades from Margaret River, Busselton and Collie, as well as the Department of Fire and Emergency Services firefighters.

But as each new brigade arrived, houses were unnecessarily checked multiple times as their communication infrastructure had been damaged by the fire.

“I evacuated in the fires, but they just kept coming back and back to check we weren’t here,” Mr Wynne said.

Having his property next to 80km of bushland, he said he was surprised to find his house still standing after the blaze.

“You evacuate, and you go and stay somewhere, and these people come in for free as a service, and they basically put your house out,” he said.

“I’m on 100 acres, everything was burnt… but there was my house, it was really fantastic.

“I just thought, ‘who are these people that don’t even know you and come along and put your house out’, it’s unreal.”

Up and Go Evac Marker on rural property in Cookernup. Photo: Nik Wynne.

Mr Wynne hand makes the markers which also feature a label on the back to write exact GPS coordinates of the houses on each property.

This allows firefighters to quickly locate people when smoke and flames hinder visibility.

He hopes to eventually put a QR code on the back of the markers.

“This can give the GPS of your house, the GPS of your dam so the firies can get water, and the GPS of a compatible water outlet the property may have,” he said.

The markers are now available from the Cookernup General Store.

How the Evac Markers work. Source: Youtube.

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