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Bushfire preparation

The Rural Fire Service is warning there could be an early start to the New South Wales bushfire season - including areas around Sydney - as vegetation dries out due to a prolonged dry spell that shows no sign of letting up any time soon.

Before the dry spell there was a long period of wet weather that caused vegetation to rapidly grow. However the landscape has rapidly dried up since, creating the potential for an early start to the bushfire season in different parts of NSW, possibly as early as September.


The official bushfire danger period generally starts on October 1 until March 31; however the RFS could bring it forward if conditions continue to worsen.


Unfortunately, bushfires are a fact of Aussie life. As unpredictable as they can be, being prepared for a blaze to happen at any time can go a long way to protecting you and your property. Here are some simple steps to get your property bushfire-ready.

Have a plan to leave early or decide to stay, only if you’re well prepared

For anyone in the bush, the preparations for combating 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.

Check insurance

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.

 

No liability whatsoever is accepted regarding the forgoing comments and they should not be relied on as being determinative of the steps to be taken. The protection of your home from bushfires will depend on its individual circumstances and may require further measures. You may consider it prudent to seek specialist advice from your local authority and fire service.

 

References

Falling moisture levels and rising mercury point to risk of major fires in NSW

Horror bushfire season forecast for NSW with early start predicted, RFS says

 

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