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What to do Before, During and After a Bushfire

January 1, 2018

Summer in Australia brings more than sweltering conditions, crowded beaches and a never-ending craving for 7/11 slurpies. It also brings an increased risk of bushfires.

bushfire season risks

The hot, mostly dry climate that’s prevalent in Australia at this time of year make the landscape outside of our major cities the perfect breeding ground for fires that can quickly rage out of control.

 

Bushfires can be caused by lightning strikes, arcing from overhead power lines, arson, campfires, cigarettes and dropped matches, and even control burn escapes or malfunctioning machinery.

 

As such, being prepared come bushfire season is a must! Keeping your eye on fire warnings and not burning off in your backyard isn’t enough, you’ll also need to have a fire action plan, and will need to prepare your property for the very real threat of falling victim to a blazing bushfire.

 

Before a Bushfire

 

These tips will help you protect yourself, your family, and your property in the event of a bushfire:

 

  • Regularly clean your roof and gutters
  • Inspect and clean any chimneys at least twice a year
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms that are installed properly and that you change the batteries at least once a year
  • Teach your family how to use a fire extinguisher and make sure they know where it’s stored
  • Have handy tools that can be used in a bushfire like rakes, shovels, chainsaws, buckets, and of course hoses
  • Make sure you have a ladder that’s tall enough to reach your roof
  • Clear items that can burn easily away from your house, such as piles of wood, lawn furniture and etc
  • Regularly rake up fallen leaves and any other flammable vegetation or twigs
  • Keep your lawn neatly mowed
  • Review your home and contents insurance policy and make sure bushfire protection is included in your policy

 

During a Bushfire

 

If a fire is approaching:

 

  • Make sure you alert your family and keep your pets close by, away from any smoke that might be forming outside
  • Have everyone dressed in protective clothing
  • Switch on your radio or an online radio and switch it to your local ABC AM station, so you can hear updates
  • Shut all of the doors and windows in your home
  • Fill your bath and sinks with water, as well as many buckets and containers as is possible
  • Place wet towels against your doorways
  • Take down your curtains and move any furniture or other flammable items away from any windows
  • Hose down the exterior of your house, wetting the building, pathways and garden
  • Plus your drains and fill your gutters with water
  • Keep yourself, your family, and your pets properly hydrated

 

If you are advised to evacuate, and staying to protect your property will put your life at risk, follow the advice of your local authorities. If it is safe to stay, extinguish any spot fires as they appear and keep a vigilant watch, monitoring the fire’s conditions.

 

After the fire has passed:

 

  • Keep track of any emergency updates
  • Throw away any food that was exposed to extreme heat or smoke
  • If your property was damaged in any way, contact your insurance broker so they can assist you with the claims process

 

The following resources will also help you prepare for bushfire season: 

Victoria: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/

South Australia: http://www.cfs.sa.gov.au

New South Wales: http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/

Tasmania: http://www.fire.tas.gov.au/

Western Australia: http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

Queensland: https://www.fire.qld.gov.au/

Northern Territory: http://www.pfes.nt.gov.au/Fire-and-Rescue.aspx

ACT: http://esa.act.gov.au/actrfs/

 

Also, make sure you talk to Sydney Insurance Brokers in the lead up to bushfire season, so you can assure all of your physical assets are protected financially in the event of a bushfire.