As the days get longer and the temperature begins to rise, many of us, particularly those of us living in bushfire prone areas, also begin to think of what we need to do to prepare ourselves and our property for the bushfire season.
The bushfire season officially starts in Australia on the 1st of October but common sense will tell you when to start getting your house prepared in a timely manner. Don’t leave it until the last minute! A well prepared home can be easier for you and the firefighters to defend.
A well prepared property is more likely to survive a bushfire. Even if your plan is to leave early, the better prepared your home is the more likely it will be to survive fire and ember attack.
Let’s start with the basics, the things that everyone can and must do. Firstly, make sure that any fuel (anything that can burn) is removed from the vicinity of the house. Cut back any trees or shrubs that are close to or overhanging the house, clean out your gutters and downpipes and remove any leaves from the roof. Fit metal leaf guards for the gutters and repair any damaged roof tiles or iron sheeting.
Don’t stack firewood against the house and make sure that any piles of leaves and other garden refuse is removed from the vicinity of the building. Remove and store any flammable items such as lawn mower fuel away from the building and make sure that the pressure relief valve on all gas cylinders face away from the house. It may seem like a small thing but remove any combustible doormats and place them inside the house on those days of high fire danger.
Other things you can do is fit metal fly screens on the outside of windows and doors and seal any gaps in the walls and cladding and enclose any open under floor areas, and remember to keep your lawns cut short. Non-combustible metal fencing may also help.
In general, look for the places embers could start fires, on the roof, under the floor and around windows and doors, and take action to prevent them.
Have a reliable water source that is not reliant on the electricity being available, as often power is cut early in the event of bushfire. Town water is usually not reliant on electricity and in the event of town water not being available a small generator set will be very useful to run your domestic electric water pump. Have a hose fitted with metal fittings that is long enough to reach every part of your yard. If you have another water source such as a tank, dam or swimming pool, purchase a portable petrol or diesel fire pump fitted with all the appropriate fittings and couplings to enable you to draw water from all your different available sources. Make sure you test every aspect of your portable firefighting system at the beginning of each fire season. Other useful items to have handy are ladders, rakes, spades/shovels and mops and buckets.
One of the most vital aspects of preparing for a bushfire is to work with your family and prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan. Your Bushfire Survival Plan is one of the best ways to help improve the safety of you and your family before and during a bushfire. Your plan can help stop you making dangerous and rushed decisions at the last minute.
Further information on preparing your Bushfire Survival Plan and your property can be found on the New South Wales Rural Fire Service website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or by visiting your local RFS brigade or RFS Community Service Officer. They have many useful and helpful publications and brochures and information days.
- PREPARE YOUR BUSHFIRE SURVIVAL PLAN
- PREPARE YOURSELF
- PREPARE YOUR PROPERTY
And don’t forget; go to www.rfs.nsw.gov.au for more important information.