The fire activity has decreased generally overnight though the Healesville Complex is still of concern for us. The weather forecast is heartening: cool, low temperatures and no northerlies. Neither is there any rain but we’ll take what we can get at this stage.

There was a grassfire a kilometre or two from us last night. Given the lack of lightening strike, nearby fires or any fire spotting, the only reasonable conclusion is that some idiot(s) lit it deliberately. It was worrisome – we leapt onto the CFA incident page immediately. They were onto it quickly with four appliances so it was taken care of.

It frightened the lass because we heard sirens for the first time and it coincided with the fly over of Elvis the supercrane, an air ambulance and police chopper.

I woke up this morning to a death toll of 173, with a toll in excess of 200 expected after the police and army have finished checking burnt out cars and homes.

We have a deliberate policy during events like this that we don’t put the television on until after the children in bed. We noticed during the September 11 attacks, when the lad was only 2 and a half, that he became distressed by the images even after a little exposure. Since then we’ve relied on the radio and internet during disaster and attacks – the Bali bombings, tsunami, and bushfires.

Please don’t underestimate the ability of children to absorb information nor overestimate their ability to assess what it means. Shield them from raw information but let them know simply what is happening. Answer questions in their language, simply and honestly. If you and they are safe, let them know that. Talk about what is being done to help the people affected and let them join in any fundraising or assistance. If you know a child who was involved in the fires the our school principal passed on the following advice from counsellors: ask them only two questions (what did you see? how do you feel about that?) and listen. Respond to what they say but don’t lead them.

And lots of hugs help, too.


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