I lived through Black Saturday fires. Thank God we learned.
LYING on the floor, screaming.
That's how I found my friend. She had just found out her family lost everything in the Black Saturday bushfires.
In the middle of Victoria's Great Dividing Range, you couldn't see outside the windows of our classroom apart from the red horizon of the approaching bushfire.
We were given wool blankets and brought to the school oval with the sprinklers going, sharing our spot of safety with native animals.
I was fine. The fire was still 5km away, my family weren't in danger as they lived closer to Melbourne.
But I was the city teen in a country school and I had never been in a bushfire.
Nothing can prepare you for how fast fire moves, how thick the air feels, the feeling of terror and fear of the unknown.
In the media reports, I saw the faces of my friends and their families, many of whom were volunteer firefighters.
Others testimonials I still carry with me - the man in the next town who was saved because his horse kicked him into a creek, the person who dived into a wombat hole while the fire passed over the top, the woman who boiled to death in her watertank because she didn't leave in time.
We didn't have today's sophisticated warning system and resources, these came as a result of the 2009 tragedy.
Fire will always be scary but the information available at our fingertips from QFES and the local disaster management dashboard (see page 7 of today's Chronicle) can provide the information which saves lives.
Use it, take the threat seriously and, have a survival plan.