Bushfires cause loss of life and millions in damage every year in Australia. They’re devastating, but they’re a fact of life, so it’s critical you understand if you’re at risk, how to minimise that risk and where to get help and more information if you need it.
Embers floating through the air before and after the main fire front are responsible for destroying many houses, as they land in gutters or through windows that have smashed from the heat. Fires also start from burning debris that piles up on verandas or in doorframes, or through thick vegetation close to the home can cause timber posts and decks to ignite.
Most homes that burn survive the main fire, but are destroyed in the following hours. In many cases if people are well prepared to put out small spot fires, they can save their home.
Ideally you should be on top of this before fire season, but it’s never too late to protect you and your property.
- Clean out gutters and other roof fittings – they collect leaves and debris, which are extremely flammable.
- If you have a woodpile, which is a fuel source, site it well away from the house.
- Prune any trees that are close to the house, as overhanging branches will fuel a fire.
- At ground level, keep grass short and rake up leaves.
- Purchase at least one garden hose that reaches the perimeter of your property.
- Regularly recycle newspapers and cardboard. Don’t store piles of recycling material close to the house.
- Store flammable liquids and paint away from the house.
- LPG gas bottles should have the valve facing away from the house.
- Pool chemicals can ignite if placed near other flammable liquids so store them separately from other potentially dangerous chemicals.
- Make sure your insurance is up to date and adequately covers your property and its contents for bushfire damage.
- If you’re renting in a bushfire prone area and you don’t feel your landlord has taken reasonable steps to address the above, talk to them about it. If you can’t get them to cooperate, speak to your state or territory fire service and see if they can assist.
- Create a manageable evacuation plan and share it with the people closest to you.
Other important bushfire safety tips
- Don’t shelter in your swimming pool, as your head and other exposed body parts will be susceptible to radiant heat.
- Don’t empty your pool, as it can be used as a water source for fire brigades.
- You must evacuate if told to do so by fire authorities (don’t be a hot head).
- Have family/friends, treasured possessions and pets on hand, so evacuation is fast (part of that escape plan).
- Consider purchasing a portable pump to use water from your swimming pool or water tank.
Your property is precious, but nothing is more important than your life. If you are in mortal danger, take immediate action.
Where to go for more information:
Always check with local fire protection services to find warnings or advice specific to your home in your area.
Each region has a way for you to check the latest updates and instructions about where to retreat to in case of evacuation.
Click for more information from the Victorian CFA