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How to prepare for a bushfire this summer

Bushfire season is already underway.
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Bushfires can be dangerous for families, livestock and the overall health and safety of anything on your property. This year, bushfires are predicted to be more dangerous than ever, so it’s important to understand the best way to prepare.

Watch: Make your bushfire survival plan

Bushfire season is well underway with an all-out fire ban across NSW, as well as many areas around Australia (especially along the Eastern coast) already at a moderate level of fire danger rating

How can you stay safe this summer if you’re living in one of, or close to, these areas? 

The NSW Rural Fire Service has developed a checklist for those in danger of being hit by a bushfire. While this list is definitely needed for individuals and families in warning zones, it is still worthwhile for every Aussie to check off these tasks just in case.

How to prepare for a bushfire

gutter-prep-for-bushfire
(Credit: Getty)

Gutters

Clean out your gutters of leaves, twigs and dry materials. These materials can act as fire starters or prolong fires if left. Installing metal gutter guards is also recommended to ensure that dry gutter materials cannot spread fire. 

Home repairs and fixtures 

NSW Rural Fire Service recommends installing metal mesh screens on doors and windows and fitting seals to eliminate gaps. This will prevent the spreading of fire inside your house if it does occur on your property. It is also wise to repair damaged or missing roof tiles, cover gaps in external walls and to close any areas under the house for the same reason.

Water access

Having a fire sprinkler system in your gutters is a great way to ensure a fire isn’t spread by dry material and can be put out quickly if it does reach your roof. Installing extended hoses that can reach around the house is also recommended for accessibility purposes. 

If you have access to large amounts of water (a pool, tank, dam or natural water source), putting a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your home will help firefighters if they require excess water. 

mowing-lawn-bushfire-prep
(Credit: Getty)

Outdoor maintenance 

Keeping all natural materials that can burn well-maintained will reduce fire hazards around your home. This includes mowing the lawn as short as possible, cutting back trees and shrubs and cleaning up fallen leaves and debris. 

Insurance

Finally, keeping your home and contents insurance up to date is extremely important. Hopefully, it will never have to be used, but being safely insured is always highly recommended. 

Four steps to safety

The NSW Rural Fire Service has a four-step process to being safe and ready for the event of a bushfire: 

four-steps-to-safety
(Credit: NSW Rural Fire Service)

Bushfire Survival Kit

Having a prepared kit with all of your necessities, documents and personal items will mean there is easy access to items you will need in the event of a bushfire or home evacuation. Keep this survival kit in an area that is easy to locate and notify all family members of it’s existence. 

Regardless of whether you have to leave your home or whether you choose to stay in the event of a bushfire, this kit will be helpful: 

  • Portable battery-operated radio, along with spare batteries
  • Waterproof torch, along with candles and waterproof matches
  • First aid kit with manual
  • Woollen blankets
  • Emergency contact numbers 
  • Waterproof bag for valuables
  • Enough drinking water for each person (at least 3 litres per person per day)

In addition to these items, if you are leaving your home, it is recommended also to bring: 

  • Cash, ATM cards, credit cards
  • Medications, toiletries and sanitary supplies
  • Special requirements for infants, elderly, injured, disabled
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Combination pocket knife
  • Important documents, valuables and photos (in the waterproof bag mentioned above)
  • Change of clothes for everyone

Finally, preparing pets is extremely important and often a forgotten task. Put identification tags on them and add their leash, food and medication to your survival kit when leaving your property. 

A survival kit may never be used, but it will reduce stress and worry during bushfire warnings or just the season in general.

If you want to learn more about your region and the danger ratings currently in place, please visit the appropriate state website below: 

NSW

NSW Rural Fire Service

QLD 

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

VIC

Country Fire Authority 

SA

South Australian Country Fire Service

WA

Department of Fire and Emergency Services

ACT

ACT Rural Fire Service

NT 

Fire and Rescue Service

TAS

Tasmania Fire Service

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