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Bushfire preparedness – what you need to know

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20 December 2019While the feature article in the next edition of the Member newsletter that will be distributed to Members early January will be all about bushfire preparedness, we thought it’s timely to release similar information through our blog given the horror start to the 2019/20 bushfire season. 

Understanding how at risk you are

It is important to understand whether your property falls within what is considered a bushfire prone area (BPA). For instance, in the ACT, built-up areas that are adjacent to forest and grassland are considered BPAs, as is the ACT’s entire rural area. If your property falls in a BPA and a bushfire breaks out in the area, your property is at increased risk.

If you are an ACT resident, actmapi.act.gov.au will allow you to look up your address and determine if you fall within a BPA. Other states and territories have similar online resources. Search for your local state or territory emergency authority or fire service.

Preparing your home

Regardless of whether you fall in a BPA, it is important to take preventative measures around your property to make it safer in the event of a bushfire.

Trim

Trim overhanging trees and shrubs. If you can, keep a two-metre gap between your home and any tree branches. Don’t let trees overhang your home. Consider pruning the lower branches of trees as high as you can reach to prevent a fire on the ground climbing into the tree canopy.

Mow

Mow grass and remove the cuttings. Have a cleared area around your home.

Remove

Remove material that can burn around your home (door mats, wood piles, mulch, leaves, paint, outdoor furniture for instance).

Clear

Clear and remove all debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home. Burning embers can set your home on fire.

Prepare

Prepare a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home. Make sure you’ve got a reliable source of water.

In addition, use non-flammable fences where possible and consider installing metal fly screens on all windows and over evaporative air-conditioning systems to prevent embers and ash from entering your home.

Staying informed

With modern technology, there are now more options than ever to help you stay informed of bushfires in your area. This includes the ‘Fires Near Me’ free smartphone App, local radio and TV or the website and social media platforms for your state or territory emergency authority or fire service.

There are three alert levels for bushfires you should be aware of:

And then there are the Fire Danger Ratings. The higher the fire danger rating, the more dangerous a fire is likely to be. These ratings can vary slightly between states and territories – check with your fire authority or fire service for details.

Bushfire survival plan

Your bushfire survival plan will help spell out circumstances during which you and your family will leave your home early or prepare to stay. For both scenarios, there are important questions you need to ask yourself and importantly, if you decide to stay, that you have everything you need to defend your home. There are some great resources and checklists available online. Just one example can be found on the NSW Rural Fire Service website at rfs.nsw.gov.au.

Additional information

Additional information can be found in your relevant state or territory emergency authority or fire service.