The bushfire season is a part of the Australian way of life, it occurs without fail, every year. And yet, every year Australians fail to adequately prepare their home and surrounding property for it. Here, we've laid out what you need to do in the lead up to this year’s bushfire season. Plus, what to do in the event of a bushfire near you.
Preparing for the bushfire season
It's best to start preparing your property in the months leading up to the Australian bushfire season. This means around September to October, before the hot summer days arrive. So get your ladder, bins, and mower ready and let's get started on your pre-bushfire season preparations.
Take the time to assess the state of your gutters. Clean your gutters regularly and keep it free from leaves and debris. Install metal leaf guards so as to avoid build-up of leaves. If your property is in a high-risk bushfire area, attach a fire sprinkler system to your gutters too. It will provide added protection to your home by extinguishing nearby embers. Trim all low lying branches, paying particular attention to those that hang over the roof and those within close proximity to your home.
Keep your front and backyard tidy by mowing the lawn on a regular basis. Clearing the area of fallen leaves, twigs and branches will also help minimise the volume of fuel available in a bushfire. Don’t leave grass clippings on-site, instead, dispose of these through your local council. Also, remove any flammable organic materials such as woodpiles and excess mulch. Similarly, remove excess ground fuels and other combustible materials away from the property. Next is to check how prepared you are for spot fires near your home. This means checking that your hose is long enough to go around the house to put out these spot fires and embers. If you have a pool, tank or dam, consider placing a visible Static Water Supply sign at the front of your property. This will let emergency services driving by know they can use the water there if necessary.
Inside the house
Equipping the inside of your home is also a vital step in your bushfire preparations. By plugging gaps in the roof and exterior walls of the home, it will help prevent embers from slipping through. It is also best to seal all gaps around doors and windows too and any gaps that can let smoke and embers it. We all know that plastic melts quicker and at a lower temperature than metal. So replace all plastic mesh screens on your doors and windows with steel or aluminium. We can’t state this next one enough. Remove all flammable materials, this includes gas bottles and even butane lighters.
We all have precious items and important documents that we want to keep safe. So install a high quality fire resistant safe in your home. Another alternative is to have these packed up and ready to go in the event of an evacuation. Whilst it’s vital to protect your home, it is also important to check your home and contents insurance. Check the insured value and that it covers for all-natural disasters and bushfires. Be aware that some insurance companies place embargoes in the lead up to certain seasons. This means if you're looking at switching, do this way ahead of the bushfire season, so you don't get caught out.
Emergency bushfire kit
By keeping an emergency kit, you can be prepared for any unexpected disasters that come your way. But what should you keep and where? But what should you keep and where? Keep within easy reach on the outside of your property, ladders, metal buckets and shovels. This will help you to put out spot fires. Within your home have several torches, new batteries and a small portable radio. These would come in useful should the electricity supply fail. Plus store bottles of water so you can remain hydrated in the heat. Prepare socks, rags with sand so you can put this in downpipes. These will be needed to clog downpipes when a bushfire is near and it is safe to do so.
A bushfire emergency kit is more than having the items to deal with in a bushfire. It's putting together items that you will need after a bushfire too. Things like keeping a few of the children’s toys together, toiletries, sentimental items, and laptops.
Having a safety exit plan is vital. Find out where your community evacuation centre is. Layout instructions with what you and your family will do if you become separated or if a bushfire occurs whilst family members are away. This can include leaving a signal outside the property to show no one is home or notifying neighbours or a simple text message.
In the event of a bushfire
Now that your home and family are well prepared for the bushfire season, here are some quick tips to follow if you are caught in one. Report all fires to 000; Keep up to date with bushfire news as they happen from your local bushfire agency; It is important to stay calm, then you can figure out what you need to do, whether this is putting out spot fires or sending the children to an evacuation centre; Close windows and doors, block gaps in windows and doors with a wet blanket, towel or linen; Comply with police orders when it is time to evacuate
Here you can find extra advice and response information from your local bushfire responder: