Bushfire Prevention: 6 must-dos to protect your home from bushfires

bushfire prevention Australia

Bushfire Prevention is not just for your home – but your family’s survival also

Whether you live in rural Australia or the city suburbs, you should have bushfire prevention measures in place to help protect your home. A prepared home is easier for firefighters to defend, and can increase the chances of your family and home surviving.

1. Clean gutters of leaves and twigs

If hit by burning embers, dead leaves and twigs are an easy way for a fire to spread. This is preventable by clearing your gutters, roofs and downpipes from leaves and debris.

How often should I clean my gutters to prepare for bushfire season?  

Every home is different, but it’s recommended to clean your gutters up to four times per year if there are lots of trees are nearby or only twice a year if there are fewer trees on your property.

Ensure one of these occasions is following Autumn when nearby trees have finished shedding leaves.

Make sure you clean gutters ASAP if you notice any overflowing or leaking water.

 

2. Ensure LPG cylinders are stored correctly  

Provided domestic gas cylinders are correctly installed and maintained they don’t pose a significant hazard during natural disasters.

Always ensure your LPG cylinders are stored outside, with their safety valves pointed away from close objects.

What do I do with my gas cylinders if a bushfire approaches? 

Provided it’s safe to do so, follow the below tips to ensure your gas bottles provide less of a risk to protect from flying embers:

  • Leave your cylinders installed and secured in an upright position.
  • Turn off your cylinders with the hand valve (turn in a clockwise direction)
  • Ensure the area around your cylinders is free of combustible materials
  • DON’T cover your cylinders with wet material to keep cool as it may dry out and become combustible

 

3. Check your Smoke Alarms are in working order monthly

Once a month schedule a time to check your smoke alarms. Do this by pushing the test button to make sure it beeps.

How many smoke alarms do you need in your house? 

Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom and living area. The CFA also recommends interconnected smoke alarms so that if any of the alarms are activated, every alarm across your property will sound.

 

4. Ensure your property has easy access to water

During a bushfire emergency, access to town water may be affected. In these situations, it’s recommended to allow clear access to your water sources (such as water tanks and swimming pools) by removing any obstacles. 

This will help yourself and firefighters better protect your property if a bushfire approaches.

How can firefighters access my pool water during a bushfire? 

For NSW residents with water tanks, pools or dams, Fire and Rescue NSW can sign up for the Static Water Supply (SWS) Program. Displaying this free plate to the front of your property will assist firefighters in locating emergency water supplies to extinguish a fire at your home or nearby property.

Contact your local fire station to sign up to the SWS Program.


Bushfire Prevention 2
Static Water Supply (SWS) Program signage.

5. Prepare a Bushfire Emergency Plan

When it comes to emergency situations not everyone can think clearly. By being prepared with a Bushfire Emergency Plan, you can help you and your family make the best choices if a bushfire does approach.

What do I include in my family’s Bushfire Emergency Plan?  

When creating your bushfire emergency plan remember to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where will you go in the case of a bushfire emergency?
  2. Which Fire Danger Rating is your trigger to leave?
  3. What route will you take if you decide to leave? Do you have an alternative route if the fire is in this area?
  4. What supplies/belongings will you take with you?
  5. What do you need to organise for your pets or livestock?
  6. How will you stay informed about bushfire warnings and updates?
  7. What will you do if a bushfire is approaching and you can’t leave?

To help you create your Bushfire Emergency Plan, check out the CFA’s Bushfire Survival Planning Template.

 

6. Check your home and contents insurance policy

Regardless of how well you’ve engaged bushfire prevention tactics, you need to ensure you’re covered financially if your home is lost during a bushfire.

While the majority of Australian insurance policies offer cover for bushfire damage, you need to ensure your home and contents are not underinsured.

How to know you’re not underinsured for bushfire damage:  

  • Ensure your home content values are up-to-date.
  • Take into account any extra costs associated with demolition and debris removal.
  • Check your property’s Bushfire Attack Level to see if any rebuilds will need to conform with new national building codes around bushfire risk zones.

How to protect your insurance documents in the case of a bushfire:

  • When preparing your Emergency Survival Kit, include a printed up-to-date copy of your insurance documents.
  • Upload photos of your home contents and copies of receipts onto a cloud storage service.
 Feature Photo by Gryffyn M.

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