The sweltering Australian summer is here, and so are long warm nights, evenings at the beach and barbeques with family and friends. But summer also marks the beginning of bushfire season, where fires rage across the country, destroying homes, livelihoods and communities.
We should all be prepared for bushfire season, regardless of where we live or where we spend our holidays. While your home might not be directly threatened by bushfire, bushfires can disrupt your summer holiday travel plans or affect the homes and communities of your loved ones. The best way to deal with a bushfire is to first be prepared for one.
Here’s how you can prepare your home and your family for a bushfire:
Take preventative measures to reduce the risk of bushfire:
There are many preventative measures you can take around your home to reduce the risk of bushfire. This includes keeping your grass cut, storing firewood and flammable items away from your home and decking area, removing dry sticks, leaves and bark from your property, and using pebbles in your garden instead of flammable mulch.
You should also consider installing gutter guard protection in your gutters. Gutter guard mesh sits within your gutters and prevents the buildup of leaves, sticks and other debris. A house fire can be started from a burning ember from a fire up to 5 kilometers away, and the dry debris clogged in your gutter is the perfect fuel for a bushfire to spread. Up to 90% of house fires are started by embers travelling from another fire. Gutter guards can help you reduce the first of bush fire spreading to your home.
Inside your home, you should ensure you have working fire alarms, and enough of them, as well as a fire extinguisher. You should also prepare a fire survival plan with your family that includes a pack with enough supplies in case you need to evacuate, or in the event you become isolated as you wait for help to arrive. You should also factor your pets into this plan. Visit the CFA website for more advice on preparing your own fire ready kit.
What to do when a bushfire occurs:
It’s never too early to leave or evacuate. If you think there is a threat, it is better to act early. You can check the Fire Danger Rating in your area each day so you know the risk and can make a call on when to leave. Move livestock to a safe location before you leave. Be sure to turn off the gas, and lock all doors and windows before you leave. Also let someone know you are leaving and where you are going so they can make sure you have left the area safely.
The CFA also has information on how to cope with a bushfire if you cannot evacuate.