Julia Pannett

Home Insurance

12 Nov 2019

Preparing for bushfires in Australia

Every bushfire season, Australia experiences devastating fires that scar the landscape and leave a lasting impact on many lives. Whilst education programs that focus on prevention and what to do during a bushfire are promoted every summer, the incidence of bushfires continues to increase. The increase can be linked to rising temperatures and changing climate conditions.

The devastating effects of bushfires come in many forms and have a long lasting impact. Just the monetary cost of bushfires in NSW is expected to reach 100 million dollars in the next 50 years according the Climate Council. News.com.au reported that bush fires in Australia “are almost twenty times more deadly and eighty times more destructive than a century ago”.

There are precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of bushfire threat. Here’s a list of things to do to help you prepare for bushfire season.

Insure your home and belongings

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent the spread of fire. However, you can make sure that you have sufficient insurance in case a fire damages part of, or entirely destroys your home.

Many people are underinsured or don’t have their homes and contents insured at all, which can leave them without enough money to rebuild should they need to. Check that your home and contents insurance is up to date and check with your insurer that you have adequate coverage in the event of a fire.

Determine if your property is in a bush fire prone area

Many councils have maps available on their website that identify areas at high risk of bushfire. Check if your property falls into one of these areas as you may need to take additional precautions. You can also make sure you’re on any available alert lists that authorities use during emergencies.

Download the Fire and Rescue bush fire survival plan relevant to your State

These free Bush Fire Survival Plans will help you and your family how to prepare, act and survive in the event of a fire. It includes life saving tips, including how and when to make the decision to vacate your property if there are any signs of fire, or when the fire danger rating is extreme or catastrophic, and your home is not built to withstand a fire.

Monitor each state’s fire alert maps for the latest updates here:

Prepare your home and surroundings

It is important to assess your home to identify potential fire hazards. Clear fire hazards and general debris so you have a safety zone around your main property. Hazards outside of the home can include overgrown shrubbery close to the house, gutters full of leaves and sources of open flames, like barbecues or cigarette butts.

Some additional examples of ways to fireproof your home and its surroundings are:

  • install fine mesh screens on your doors and windows
  • consider using metal sheeting for your roof rather than flammable wood products
  • erect a security fence that can act as a heat barrier
  • install a sprinkler system

If you have a static water supply like a pool, dam or water tank you can install a SWS sign out the front of your home to alert authorities to an additional water supply that may be used to help fight a fire.

Educate your family

Ensure your family understands the devastation bush fires can cause.  Often it is a simple thing (like using matches outside on a hot day) that can start a fire that quickly gets out of control. Develop and rehearse a fire evacuation plan with your family in case you need to implement it, and be vigilant on the preventative measures during the drier months, such as always keeping gutters clear.

Bush fires can have devastating effects for Australians, but there are many measures you can take to help protect your home and family. A home is replaceable, your top priority should be protecting your family.

For more information on fire safety, visit Fire and Rescue NSW.

Interesting bushfire facts

1. A fire burns faster when traveling uphill and decelerates when moving downhill. If you live near a slope, keep this in mind.

2. A fire can consume a room within 4 minutes.

3. The oil found in Eucalyptus leaves is flammable, which helps bushfires burn faster and spread.

4. Fires help Eucalyptus trees regenerate. When a Eucalyptus tree is burned, it’s seed capsules open up. It’s seedlings thrive in freshly burned, ash-rich soils.

5. Embers can cause your house to catch fire hours before the actual fire arrives at your home.

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