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Preparing your home for bushfire season

Last Updated Nov 30, 2017 · Written by Hannah Fester


If there’s a time to prepare for the impending bushfire season, it is now. The latest seasonal outlook from The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) has forecasted an increased risk in bushfires this year, particularly for the eastern and south coasts of Australia. The lethal combination of this year’s warm and dry winter has caused an unprecedented heightened threat of bushfires. What’s most alarming is that it’s nationwide, with each state on alert as the warmer months approach.

While the fire brigades do what they can to reduce to risk and damage of bushfires, there are preliminary steps you can take to reduce bushfire threat in your area. By actively ensuring your home is bushfire ready, you’re giving yourself, and your family the best opportunity to be out of danger and into safety. 

Here is the ultimate checklist for getting your home bushfire ready.

Garden maintenance

Your garden is a bushfire breeding ground. Ensuring your garden is in a condition that will not foster the spread of the fire is paramount during bushfire season. Preparing your garden to prevent a bushfire from escalating is quite simple and a good place to start. Prune any branches that overhang your roof and remove any low, loose or long branches that could easily catch fire. Keep your grass relatively short and lastly, rake any dead leaves. Leaves are a kindling-like no other, and dead leaves in particular as they’re lightweight and move effortlessly in the wind. One alight leaf could be all it takes for a fire to disperse throughout your entire property. If you have a bigger outdoor area that is too sizeable to tackle on your own, call in a garden maintenance expert who will be able to help get the job done.

Gutter cleaning

As with your backyard, your gutters can accumulate a leaf build up perfect to fuel an encroaching bushfire. You may be surprised by the amount of debris and leaves that accumulate in your gutter over time. Call in a gutter cleaning service who will be able to thoroughly rid your gutters of any kindling, mitigating the risk of a spreading bushfire at your place. Go one step further by installing certified gutter guards - metal gutter guards are the safest solution, as they block debris, leaves and prevent potential ember attacks. The metal gutter guards cannot alight in any way, so the embers will simply burn themselves out harmlessly. While this will involve a licensed professional for installation, it is an ideal and safe solution for your gutters this fire season.

Screen enclosures

Your home is your safe haven and a place that does not welcome fire. Fire can creep in though, quite literally through cracks in window and door fittings. Fire knows no boundaries and will spread itself wherever there is oxygen to nourish it, with your house no exception. Embers are the perfect size to billow into your home through gaps and crevasses in your windows and doors you may not have previously thought to cover. Assuage unwanted cinder with wire screens that are not only fire resistant but also block impinging fire threats. A good screen installation company will be able to fit out your windows and doors within a day.

Pool maintenance

If you’re the lucky owner of a pool, consider it as a valuable resource during bushfire season. A pool, while providing fun in the sun, can also be a viable water source for firefighters should a fire occur. So it is ready to use at any given moment, ensure your pool is replenished with plenty of clean water, ready for use should a bushfire occur. Also, assure there are no free-floating leaves or debris sailing atop your pool to curtail the possible escalation of fire. A pool maintenance expert will be able to assist you with this task or simply roll up your sleeves, dust off the pool scoop and get cleaning.

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Smoke alarms

Potentially one of the most important jobs to complete ahead of bushfire season, yet one that may be overlooked, is a certified smoke alarm check. A smoke alarm check is not just a suggestion but a requirement by law. It’s imperative for your alarms to be assessed to ensure they are not more than 10 years old, are in working order and are permanently connected to consumer mains power. The Building Code of Australia specifies that smoke alarms should be tested during routine inspections or at least every six months. If you haven’t had your smoke alarm checked recently, call in your local electrician who will be able to examine it for you to ensure it works properly. To keep your smoke alarm functioning during bushfire season, be sure to remove cobwebs, vacuum around the smoke alarm vents with a soft brush at least every six months, and use surface inspect spray around the alarm to prevent insects nesting inside. If you’re ever unsure of what’s required of you as either a homeowner or a renter,  the Australian Building Codes Board provides a wealth of indispensable knowledge.

Locksmiths

While you want to feel safe and secure in your home, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re trapped, should you need to evacuate your property. Deadlocks can prove to be dangerous roadblocks in people’s homes, as residents can lock themselves in, unable to escape. An easily unlockable door is important during bushfire season, particularly if you have to abandon your home. A good locksmith service will be able to install locks that keep you safe, yet are easily unlocked in case of an emergency.

Roofing

Similarly to your windows and doors, your roof needs to be free of any gaps or openings where fire could be enticed to enter. Ensure missing or damaged roof tiles are replaced or repaired. The issue with your roof is that you can’t gauge where there are gaps, if any, from the ground. So while you may think your roof is in peak condition, there may be some unseen damages. Talk to a roofing expert who will be able to safely inspect the top of your home. Roof inspections and repairs are not a do-it-yourself project and will require the expertise of a professional.

With bushfire season fast approaching, there are urges from authorities to prepare accordingly. By adhering to our bushfire preparation checklist, you can set your property up to be as fire resistant as possible, mitigating the very real risk associated with bushfires in Australia.

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