As summer temperatures rise in Australia, we need to be ready to protect ourselves from the threat of bushfires.
It’s the hottest time of year again, and with soaring temperatures and a dry landscape comes the threat of summer bushfires. The devastation of which have been all too real for so many Australians in recent years. So what can we do to prepare ourselves for the worst as we hope for the best? Well, indeed, there is plenty.
There are many maintenance jobs around your house and garden that can make a big difference should fire become a threat in your area. It is also important to establish a fire emergency plan with all the members of your household. It is prudent to do this at a calm time before you find yourself in the midst of a stressful emergency. These small acts will give you the best chance at a positive outcome in the event of fire threat to your home.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has a wealth of information on what we can do to best look after our properties and make them as fire resistant as possible. The list of their top five suggestions are:
- Trim overhanging trees and shrubs. This can help stop a fire spreading to your house.
- Keep your lawns short and your gardens well maintained. Mow your grass and remove the cuttings. Having a cleared area around your home will give firefighters a safe area to work and help protect the house itself.
- Remove material that can burn around your house. This includes things such as door mats, wood piles, mulch, leaves and outdoor furniture.
- Clear and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters around your home. Burning embers can set your home on fire.
- Prepare a sturdy hose, or hoses, that will reach all around your home. Try to ensure you have a reliable source of water (pool, tank or dam) and a diesel/petrol pump available if possible.
And there are plenty more ways to protect your property should a fire be threatening your home. These include:
- Install metal gutter guards
- Repair damaged or missing tiles on your roof
- Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
- Enclose any areas under the house
- Repair or cover gaps in external walls
- Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
- If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance so firefighters know you can get water
- Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance, and ensure it is up to date
Equally important is to ensure you and your family are personally prepared for the possibility of a bushfire is having a plan in place for all members of your household to follow. Bushfires can be utterly terrifying (leaving early is always the safest thing to do) and devising your plan ahead of any direct threat is the best option.
When it comes to a plan, the NSW RFS recommends keeping it simple by following four straightforward steps to ensure you have a plan on how you will best respond to any real threat of a fire reaching your property. These steps are:
DISCUSS what to do if a bushfire threatens your home. Ideally, this should happen long before any fire event so you have made your decisions without the stress of an actual fire approaching.
PREPARE your home and property in all the ways listed above. Particularly important is keeping your grass low and having a cleared area around your house.
KNOW the bushfire alert levels. If there is a fire in your area, you should find its alert level on your state’s RFS website, or through the ‘Fires Near Me’ app. It is important to know the alert level for your area so you know what is expertly advised in your situation.
KEEP all important numbers, websites and apps easily accessible on your mobile phone. There are few more important times to stay fully up to date with weather conditions and expert advice for residents in your area.
For more information, visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
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