Preparing for Bushfire Season

As with most things, preparation is key. Your bushfire plan doesn’t need to be complicated, the simpler the better. Essentially, it will have two main parts:

  • Plan, meaning your plan of action if you are under threat from a bushfire
  • Prepare, which is your home preparation strategy.

If you’re not sure where to begin, we’ve put together some useful tips and resources to help you get started.

Preparing your Fire Plan

A helpful place to start is My Fire Plan, a NSW Government initiative in collaboration with the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and NSW Fire and Rescue. It’s a website that has been specifically created to help you think through the effectiveness of your existing bushfire plan if you have one or develop a new one from scratch. The site takes you step-by-step through creating a plan and helps you consider your options such as evacuate.

Know when to go

The safest option by far is to evacuate your property. Your safety and that of your family is the most important thing, so the first step in your plan should be knowing when to evacuate. We recommend always checking with your local authorities. So have their details close by.

Factor in the details

Consider the age and mobility of your family members, how you will transport your pets and your options as to which route you will take when you evacuate. It’s wise to have multiple route options in case of road closures. Keep a designated ‘bushfire box’ with bottled water, a torch, snacks, a first aid kit and important documents such as birth certificates and passports all in one place so if the need arises, they can grab it and go.

Go through the plan together

When you’re working through your bushfire plan, talk it through with your family so everyone knows what to do. Run through what everyone will need to pack in terms of basic clothing and toiletries and make a note to pack food for your pets, too. Write or print out your plan and put it somewhere easily accessible, make a list of emergency contact numbers and download the Fires Near Me app on all family devices as recommended by the RFS.

Preparing your home for bushfires

Next is your home preparation. A well-prepared home makes it easier for firefighters to defend, reduces the risk to surrounding properties.

Make your home safer

According to the CSIRO, an authority on fire management, behaviour and prediction, 85% of homes lost in bushfires are from embers igniting garden debris. This is why the preparation you do ahead of summer such as sealing gaps around windows and doors, clearing gutters and removing leaf litter around the garden is vital. Keep shrubs pruned, your lawn mown and if you can relocate garden beds so they’re away from the house, even better.

The RFS has helpful downloadable fact sheets you can print out and display on the fridge to remind you of what needs to be done in the leadup to fire season. Here are a few of their recommendations:

  • Clear your gutters of leaves and twigs
  • Install metal gutter guards
  • Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
  • Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
  • Enclose the areas under the house
  • Repair or cover gaps in external walls
  • Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
  • Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
  • Have hoses long enough to reach around your house
  • If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water
  • Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up to date.

By preparing now, you can feel reassured that you’ve done the groundwork and have your home as ready as it can be.

The following article is republished and was originally posted on www.nrma.com.au

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