Have a plan to leave early or decide to stay, only if you’re well prepared
For anyone in the bush, the preparations for combatting a bushfire are a huge undertaking. It’s vital that you plan in advance if you’ll leave early or decide to stay. That way you can avoid making potentially lethal last minute decisions - it’s much harder to make decisions with a clear head when a bushfire is heading towards your home.
Your plan needs to cover if you’ll leave for a safer place (perhaps relocate with family or friends) or if you’ll stay to actively defend your home. If you plan to stay, you’ll need to be well prepared.
Mow the lawn
It might be a chore, but taking the time to keep your lawn mown can make all the difference. Make sure you also remove any cuttings as these can pose a fire risk as well.
Clean up the yard
Cleaning up your garden can make a huge difference in the case of a bushfire. Clear out any material that could cause a fire hazard – from wood piles, leaves and mulch through to door mats and even unused outdoor furniture.
You should also remove dried undergrowth and grass from around and underneath your home, as this is one of the easiest ways for fire to spread.
Clear out the gutters
Leaves and twigs that have built up in your gutters put you at greater risk from flying embers. Make sure you keep your gutters cleaned out.
Trim overhanging branches and shrubs
Take a good look at the trees around your home and on your property. Trim any overhanging branches that could make it easy for fire to spread to your home. You should also trim low hanging branches two metres from the ground that are close to your home.
Move – or minimise- hazardous items
If you have gas cylinders on the side of your house, position them on the side of your house with the least trees and objects, and make sure that the pressure relief valves face outwards – this means the flame won’t be directed towards your house.
If you have any flammable fuels or chemicals on your property, store them in an enclosed shed. Ideally they should be 20 metres away from your home, however if this isn’t possible, use pathways and gravel areas as fuel breaks. You’ll also need to make sure that any trees or shrubs are adequately spaced to avoid a continuous flow of flammable vegetation to your home.
Spark-proof the house
Some simple things you can do to protect your home from ember attack include:
- Installing metal guards on guttering
- Replacing damaged or missing roof tiles
- Installing metal mesh screens on windows and doors
- Fitting seals around doors and windows
- Enclosing the space under the house
Check the water supply
Have at least one sturdy hose on your property that’s long enough to reach your house and if you have a pool – or a tank or dam – put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign at the entrance to your property.
Make sure your insurance is up-to-date and in particular that the sum-insured amount is enough. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have your insurer’s details handy and know how to contact them should you need to in a hurry.