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Accidents Happen – Stage 3

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Bush fire safety


The ‘Accidents Happen’ safety message explores the fact that fires can start by accident, so you should always be cautious and think before you act. People are often unaware that barbecues, campfires, fire pits or anything that causes sparks can be a bushfire threat, particularly on Total Fire Ban days. For more information, see the ‘Total Fire Ban’ lesson and video.

There are three options for presenting this lesson. The activity is essentially the same, but it can be focused on barbecues, campfires or a combination of both. Select the option that best suits your location and students. There are accompanying activity sheets for all three options.

It is recommended that you view the background information for teachers before undertaking this lesson.

Links to NSW Curriculum


Environment strand

  • ENS3.5 – demonstrates an understanding of the interconnectedness between Australia and global environments and how individuals and groups can act in an ecologically responsible manner.
  • ENS3.6 – explains how various beliefs and practices influence the ways in which people interact with, change and value their environment.

Personal Development, Health and Physical Education

Personal Health strand

  • PHS3.12 – explains the consequences of personal lifestyle choices

Safe Living strand

  • SLS3.13 – describes safe practices that are appropriate to a range of situations and environments


  • EN3-8D – identifies and considers how different viewpoints of their world, including aspects of culture are represented in texts.

Learning outcomes

Participating in this lesson will help students to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Students will identify dangers around barbecues or campfire areas and discover ways of making these areas safer.
  • Students will understand the importance of thinking before acting and how failure to do this can lead to emergency events.


Resources required are dependent on which option you select.

  • ‘Accidents Happen’ safety message video (running time: 30 sec)
  • interactive whiteboard (IWB) - optional
  • ‘Find the Barbecue Dangers’ IWB picture
  • ‘Find the Barbecue Dangers Solutions’
  • ‘Making my Barbecue Safer’ activity sheet – one per student
  • ‘Find the Campfire Dangers’ IWB picture
  • ‘Find the Campfire Dangers Solutions’ – one per student
  • ‘Campfire Safety Tips’ – one per student
  • ‘A Safe Campfire’ activity sheet – one per student

Lesson steps

As a class, watch the video ‘Accidents Happen’.

  • Why did Trev’s Mum want the area cleared before she lit the barbecue?
  • What sorts of things did they find around the barbecue?
  • Do you think Trev understood why the area needed to be cleared?
  • What other things are important to consider when lighting fires?

Barbecue focused lesson

Ask students to discuss how often they have barbecues at home and why (e.g. on weekends, in the holidays, for lunch, when friends come over, for birthdays, in summer, etc). Now ask students if they ever clear the area around the barbecue before it is lit. Why or why not?

Display the ‘Find the Barbecue Dangers’ picture on an IWB. In pairs or small groups, ask students to find and explain the items/areas in the picture that may be unsafe. Share ideas and discuss ways that the dangers could be rectified.

Students to create a scale drawing of their barbecue area at home (or a fictitious area if they do not have one) and indicate:

  • areas that are unsafe and note how these can be managed; or
  • why their barbecue area is already safe (in this case they should make note of what they do or have done to make the area safe).

Consider other times that a bushfire may start as a result of an accident (i.e. not related to a barbecue). Brainstorm a list of ideas (your state or territory fire agency website will have a list of activities that can lead to a fire starting in certain conditions). Discuss what individuals can do to ensure a bushfire does not start as a result of irresponsible behaviour.

Campfire focused lesson

Ask students to discuss when they have campfires and why. Some responses may include when they are camping, during winter to keep warm, when they want to cook some food over an open flame, during a celebration etc.

Now ask students if they ever consider the surrounding area before lighting a campfire. Why or why not? Students to discuss what they think makes a campfire and surrounding area safe.

Display the ‘Find the Campfire Dangers’ picture on an IWB. In pairs or small groups, ask students to find and explain the items/areas in the picture that may be unsafe. Make sure students also consider what is missing from the picture that could make it unsafe (e.g. the fire is not in a trench). Share ideas and discuss ways that the dangers could be rectified.

Display the ‘Campfire Safety Tips’ on an IWB and discuss each of them. Would students add any to this list?

Organise students into small groups and assign each group one or two of the campfire safety tips. Each group is to plan and create a community awareness announcement promoting the tip/s. Ideas could include a print announcement for the paper, a sign for a national park, a social media campaign or a radio advertisement. Students must decide on and consider their target audience.

As a class brainstorm a list of ways that a bushfire could start from a campfire. Discuss what individuals can do to ensure that a bushfire does not start as a result of irresponsible behaviour. Students may wish to focus on, or include, information from this discussion in their community awareness announcement

Further activities

Here are some suggested extra activities to extend the students’ learning.

  • Students to design a safety poster to display near a barbecue or campfire area.
  • Students to design and construct a ‘Safe Barbecue’ prototype – what features make it safe?
  • Students to conduct an internet search to research further barbecue or campfire safety tips.
  • Invite someone from the NSW Rural Fire Service to speak to the class about ways to prevent fire accidents and prepare for bushfire season.