Prepare your home now for bushfires

Season starts early: Now is the time for residents and land managers to start preparing for the threat of bush fire.
Season starts early: Now is the time for residents and land managers to start preparing for the threat of bush fire.

Traditionally bushfire season starts on October 1 but with continued dry conditions the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) pulled the danger period forward to August 1 for 12 local government areas, and other states might follow soon.

NSW RFS Acting Commissioner Rogers said conditions across the state are drier and warmer than average, with more than 98 percent of NSW drought affected. He also said now is the time for residents and land managers to start preparing for the threat of bush fire.

"This means doing simple things like cleaning your gutters, removing combustibles from your yard, ensuring hoses can reach all corners of your property and completing or updating your bush fire survival plan, so you and your family know what you will do in the event of a bush fire.

"I encourage households to update their bush fire survival plan and make sure the whole family knows what to do when faced with a fire. It could save your lives.

"Ask yourself, when you will go, what you will take and where will you go."

The Victorian Country Fire Authority said that even if you aren't in a rural area you could still be at risk. It said suburban homes can burn down in bushfires as a result of:

  • scrub, forest and grass catching fire.
  • a fire in a park or reserve quickly spreading to timber fences and gardens.
  • fire spreading from house to house once houses start to burn.
  • a high risk of ember attack if the house is near dense bushland environments.
  • embers falling close to or on your house starting a new fire.
  • strong winds that bring embers from far away.

According to the SA Country Fire Service, a well prepared home:

  • can be easier for you or firefighters to defend,
  • is more likely to survive, even if you're not there,
  • is less likely to put your neighbours' homes at risk, and
  • will give you more protection if a fire threatens suddenly and you cannot leave and have to take shelter.

The NSW Rural Fire Service provided basic maintenance tips to prepare your property:

  • Clean 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
  • Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
  • Enclose the areas under the house
  • Repair or cover gaps in external walls
  • Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
  • Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
  • Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
  • Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
  • 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.

Check the website of the bush fire authority in your state to download survival plans and check local regulations.