Temperatures are rising and the cooler wetter winter days are a distant memory. While for many of us this means trips to the beach and barbecues with mates; for others it has other more serious implications. Bushfires.
In many parts of Australia, bushfires go hand-in-hand with the summer months. Yet every year we are seeing more formidable and devastating bushfires hit, and in places they have never struck before. Despite this, many Australians fail to plan and prepare for bushfires sufficiently, leading to unnecessary loss of homes and lives. Living in a bushfire prone area means you have a responsibility to do the right thing in order to reduce the risk to your family, home and neighbours in the event of a bushfire.
Preparation for bushfire season is a year-round task – taking time to do the groundwork means your home will be ready when bushfire season arrives.
Start with your garden and surrounding areas
Designing and managing trees and vegetation around your home can make all the difference in a bushfire situation. In the recent Victorian and NSW bushfires, many homes were lost as a result of poor maintenance to the garden areas. Follow the tips below and you can improve the chances of your home surviving in tact:
- Trees and plants provide fuel for fires: remove the build-up of dead branches, bark or shrubs; prune your plants regularly to remove dead and dry material; and trim low lying branches two metres from the ground.
- If you’re planting a garden, choose trees and shrubs with lower oil content, and plant trees away from the house so that limbs and branches won’t hang over the roof and drop leaves in the gutters. These can quickly ignite if burning embers fall on them during a bushfire.
- Keep your outdoor areas tidy and free from any build-up of flammable material – including tree loppings and grass clippings, woodpiles, crates, hanging baskets etc…
- Fit quality metal leaf guards and clean leaves from gutters, roofs and downpipes regularly.
- Ensure garden hoses are long enough to reach the perimeter boundary of your property.
- If you have a swimming pool, contact your local fire station to place a “Static Water Supply” sign on your front fence.
- If there’s a fire hydrant outside your home, ensure it’s easily located and not obstructed.
Make small but necessary adjustments to your building
- Replace plastic fly screens with metal screens on windows and doors.
- Seal any gaps in external roof and wall cladding.
- Install fine steel wire mesh screens on all windows, doors and vents.
- Enclose open areas under your decks and floors.
- Get rid of excess ground fuels and other combustible material.
- When installing LPG cylinders around your home, ensure that pressure relief valves face outwards so the flame is not directed towards the house.
Consider investing in the following items, which may help in a bushfire situation:
- Power Generator – During a bushfire, power and water may be cut off. Often this happens in advance, meaning a generator may be essential for powering a water pump so you can have water for your home and can power mission critical appliances.
- Good quality torch.
- Portable battery operated radio.
- Fire resistant safe or metal cabinet for valuables and documents.
- Fire-Fighting Water Pump – Fire Fighting Pumps provide high pressure water discharge to protect your property from fire.
Finally and most importantly prepare your family
- Make sure you have a plan and that everyone knows it.
- Ensure the whole family knows where the community evacuation area is.
- On Total Fire Ban days, obey regulations regarding barbecues and open fires.
Remember, by taking the time to make the necessary preparations, you have a better chance of keeping your home and family safe this bushfire season.
For more helpful information visit the My Generator Learning Centre.