Tips for the 2019 Bushfire Season

December 23, 2019

Bushfire’s are front of mind for everyone this year, with the bushfire season starting extra early & not looking like it is going to let up any time soon.  There are plenty of resources around to help you get a plan together on how you are going to prepare for potential bushfires and then what you will do if a bushfire is heading your way, but we have prepared some tips to help get you started.

Step 1 – Plan ahead

Preparing your home and garden ahead of time will go a long way in helping your property survive a bushfire.  Things you can do in advance like:-

  • Clearing gutters of leaves & twigs (look into installing gutter guards)
  • Ensure your lawn is short and pot plants are moved away from the house
  • Cut back trees, shrubs and keep your property free of leaves, twigs & grass cuttings – make sure there is a gap between your home and other buildings and any trees, bushes or shrubs.
  • If you live in a bushfire prone area, you could consider installing an earth barrier around your house to act as a heat shield. It can be a fence or stone wall.
  • Covering your windows with metal fly screens will help protect against flying embers. You can also use metal mesh to block external openings and vents. Door and window seals help fireproof your home also.
  • Make sure any flammable fuel housed on your property is stored correctly and well away from your house and clearly marked. This includes gas bottles and paint tins.
  • If you have a timber house, look at using a fire retardant sealant.
  • Make sure you have replaced any damaged roof tiles and covered up any gaps in floors, decks and under verandahs or balconies.
  • Move or remove anything that can burn such as outdoor furniture and wood piles.
  • Install a reliable water pump and use your swimming pool or rainwater tank as a water source
  • Get a hose that can reach your whole house and is well made to survive high temperatures.
  • Make sure your property is insured and you have the correct sums insured.

Bushfire prone areas require extra preparation and it is advisable that some extra steps are considered.

  • Install a sprinkler system to ensure your property is dampened during dangerous times.
  • Ensure the entrance of the property has clear access for firefighting vehicles.
  • Have garden hoses with metal fittings that are long enough to reach around the property.
  • Independent access to a 5000 litres-plus water supply such as a tank, swimming pool or dam.
  • It is recommended that you have a secured metal roofing. If your property has a tiled roof, make sure it’s lined with fire-resistant insulation. Skylight covers should be wire-reinforced glass or thermoplastic.

 

This is not a comprehensive list – you can refer to the CFA Website for more tips – they are the experts.

Step 2 – Get an Emergency Survival Kit together & ready to go.

Some items can be put into the kit & left there, others you will need to gather as you are leaving, so put a list into your kit so you can make sure you have everything covered.  Make sure everyone in the family knows where the kit is located and that it is in an easily accessible spot. It’s a good idea to keep it in a waterproof container like a plastic container or similar.

Leave in the Kit

  • First Aid Kit with a manual
  • List of emergency contact numbers
  • Candles with waterproof matches
  • Waterproof Torch – spare batteries OR a wind up powered torch
  • Portable battery operated radio
  • Drink bottles
  • Waterproof bags
  • Toiletries ( toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant)
  • Woollen Blankets
  • Combination Pocket Knife
  • List of things to add as you are leaving. (see below)

Add before leaving

  • Mobile Phone & Chargers
  • ATM cards & some cash
  • Change of clothes for everyone
  • Drinking Water – fill up the drink bottles in your kit (you need 3 litres per person per day)
  • List of important documents and sentimental items and where they are located
  • Medications
  • Pet Bushfire Kit

Step 3 – Create an Evacuation Plan

Make sure everyone in your family knows the plan, who is responsible for what tasks, what transport you are going to use and an assembly point so everyone knows where to meet.

In the event of an evacuation being required it is likely that panic will set in for some family members, so it is a good idea to practice your evacuation scenario and make sure children also know and understand the plan.

Think about how you will manage your pets if you need to evacuate them and their special requirements in extreme heat.

In the event of a bushfire in your region monitor the news and keep up to date using the CFA Fires, Warnings and incidents website, there are also apps available like:-

Vic Emergency

 

Fires Near Me NSW (Also available for other states)

 

SES Assistance QLD

Get these set up before hand so you are not trying to do it when the emergency is already happening.

Embers can travel great distances,  sometimes even up to 30 kilometres in the worst conditions, so you need to keep yourself up to date on the latest information and warnings to avoid putting your family and loved ones at risk.

Remember that leaving early is the advice from the CFA, which means you need to leave the area before the fire starts so make sure you know your trigger to leave. Organise where you are going to go, plan your route, what you need to do before you leave and check with authorities before you return home.

If the worst does happen make safety your main priority and we will be here to help you with any claims.

References – https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/leave-early, https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/warnings-and-incidents