Time to prepare for fire season

Friday 07 Sep 2018

Too many homes are lost each year when serious fires break out and people have not had time to properly prepare.

Although it might seem early, and some parts of the country have had plenty of rain, this weekend could be the ideal time to check your home’s gutters and run through some precautionary steps. By doing so, you, your home and your family will be better prepared.

Don’t forget; areas where there have been heavy rainfalls over winter have seen accelerated growth of vegetation, particularly grasses, and this could present a significant danger as temperatures rise and foliage dries out.

So why not take the following steps now to reduce your bushfire risk and get prepared?

1. Clear leaves from gutters, downpipes and roofs

2. Check fixed roof vents and screen them with fine wire mesh

3. Check that pressure relief valves on LPG cylinders face away from your home, and if portable, store them away safely

4. Cut back overhanging trees, mow grass, rake up flammable leaves

5. Don’t dump green waste behind your property, on council reserves or in bushland

6. Check garden hoses are long enough to reach perimeter fences

7. Consider buying a portable, petrol driven pump to use from your pool or water tank

8. Have heavy clothing, boots, fireproof hats and protective goggles at the ready in case you need to fight fire

9. Download the ‘Disaster Watch’ App and any available local fire service Apps

10. Update your local emergency services contact numbers

11. Review your fire safety plan

If you live in a bushfire prone area, check with your local fire brigade for any fact sheets or checklists they may have available to help you get properly prepared.

You should prep your home to survive a bushfire, even if your plan would be to leave. One of the greatest dangers with bushfires is falling embers. Even though a bushfire may be many kilometres away from your home, falling embers can set fire to chairs and cushions on verandas, be drawn into unprotected roof cavities, and set alight sheds as well as equipment scattered around your property.

Walk around your property and imagine a bushfire is coming. It’s vital that you have removed and safely stored all potentially combustible items that could help set your home alight, or distract you from carefully monitoring conditions or preparing to leave in an emergency. There should be at least a 20 metre clear zone around your home.

Look around your home for other items that could easily catch fire or explode and, again, safely stow them away. Portable LPG gas bottles, fuel tanks and kerosene garden lamps should not be left where they could be directly affected by fire and exacerbate your challenges during an emergency.

Make sure that your gutters are free of any leaves

If preparing for an emergency, fire authorities recommend filling bathtubs and sinks as water pressure frequently fails and this leaves you without a water source to defend minor outbreaks. Close all the doors in your home to prevent or slow the spread of fire, should part of your house be affected. Keep buckets and wet towels at the ready.

Defending your home during a bushfire will take several hours. This includes the time needed to do all the hard preparation tasks before the fire front reaches your home and continually watching for spot fires.

You will need to be in good physical health, with the ability to maintain a constant watch on your home and surrounding area before, during and after the fire.

Think about any medical conditions that may be an issue because of stress and smoke, for example heart conditions, asthma and other respiratory conditions. These may affect your ability to defend your home.

Taking some simple, precautionary steps now can make a lifesaving difference in protecting your home, and family from a fire. There are a great many resources aimed at helping you properly prepare a fire plan so it is recommended that you review those made available by your local fire authority now.

DISCLAIMER: The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.