As the weather starts to warm up, so too does the threat of bushfire. Bushfires in Australia rage across the continent every summer, claiming properties and acres of natural bushland.
Don’t leave it until the start of summer to develop a bushfire plan for your home. Here are some tips to prepare your house for the coming summer’s bushfire season. Getting ready now will allow you to relax and enjoy the warmer weather, knowing you are prepared.
Remember, an adequately prepared house is more likely to survive the bushfire season, as well as being easier for fire fighters to defend.
1. Clean the gutters
Are your gutters piling up with dry crunchy leaves? In the lead up to summer, it is essential to clear gutters, roofs and down pipes of any leaves and leaf litter that may have gathered during autumn and winter. Leaves are an excellent fuel, and can easily become a blazing inferno if they come into contact with a spark. It’s also a great idea to install quality metal leaf guards over gutters to prevent leaves collecting in drains.1
2. Trim the trees and maintain gardens
Cut back any overhanging trees, long grass and make sure your gardens are free of mulch and plant limbs. Overgrown gardens can ignite if they come into contact with fire and can easily spread flames to the house. A great plan for a garden is to ensure there is a clear paved path through vegetation and grass, to create a fire break and easy escape.2
3. Have long hoses easily accessed
Attach a garden hose to the side of your house and make sure it is long enough to reach around the entire boundary of your property, allowing for extinguishing any fires. The hose should be in a clearly accessible place on the house and not have any obstructions in front.
4. Hide the firewood
Wood fires are cosy and luxurious during the colder months of winter, but piles of wood in summer can provide a ready source of fuel to an oncoming bushfire. Store wood piles away from the house and keep them tidy and covered with a flammable proof barrier from the elements.
5. Store flammable fuels and chemicals
Household fuels and chemicals such as methylated spirits, paint and painting solvents should be stored away from the house in a secure shed. LPG cylinders for BBQs should have their pressure relief valves facing away from the house, when not in use.
6. Check your home and contents insurance
Count the value of your belongings and double check that it is less than to the amount your house is insured for under your home and contents policy. Speak to your insurance provider if you are not sure about this.
7. Locate the closest fire hydrant to your house
If you have a fire hydrant near your home, make sure you know where it is, that it is easily accessible and that there are no obstructions blocking it. Talk to family members, so that everyone in the house knows where the hydrant is located and how to use it in an emergency.
8. Install a smoke alarm
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” A smoke detector should be fitted and checked every month to ensure the battery is working. Batteries should be replaced annually.3 Many people die in house fires during sleep times between 3:00 am to 6:00 am; a smoke detector is your best chance of alerting you to a fire near your home or in your home.
Australia is blessed with amazing sunshine and warm summers, but the hot and dry conditions unfortunately also bring the risk of bushfires. Prepare your home this summer for bushfire season with these tips and increase your chances of defeating the threat of devastation from fire.