With little to no warning, Australia’s warm and dry conditions have triggered a plenitude of fires across the country. With summer upon us, the bushfire season is in full swing and is only expected to continue.
Now, more than ever, Aussies understand the high-risk threat these natural disasters pose to homes, communities and lives – because bushfires don’t discriminate.
Staying alert, being prepared and understanding the risks you might face at your property can help save your family’s lives, your home and your livelihood. So, whether you live in the suburbs or near bushland, preparing for a bushfire is imperative to the safety of you and your loved ones.
Having an emergency survival plan gives you a better chance of remaining resilient during and after a bushfire – that’s why it’s extremely important to have one in place.
At NRMA Insurance, we know there’s nothing more important than your wellbeing. So, to help keep you and your family safe and prepare for the ongoing bushfire season, follow our guide on how to best plan for a bushfire.
How to prepare for a bushfire
Know your risks
Assess your property and know your risks. Do you live on a farm and store petrol for your tractors in the shed? Do you own livestock that would need to be moved onto safer ground in the event of a fire? Whatever it may be, consider any hazards on your property, list them down and plot what you would do to mitigate these risks in case of an emergency.
Discuss plans with your family
Sit your family down and discuss what you would do in case a bushfire threatens your home. Would you evacuate early or would you stay and risk defending your home? Ensure everyone is clear on the actions you would need to take in the event of a fire and implement them by practising a simulated emergency drill.
Prepare your home
There are multiple ways to prepare your home for a bushfire to limit the damage. Plan ahead and take early action to prevent risks in the first place:
- Cut your grass and get rid of dry leaves around your property
- Clear your gutters and keep mulch away from the house
- Install metal gutter guards
- Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
- Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
- Enclose the areas under your house
- Have hoses long enough to reach around your house
- Ensure your fireplace chimney is clean
- Have an electrical safety switch and only use recommended rating fuses
- Have a non-combustible doormat
- Check the condition of external walls and cladding and seal any gaps
- Remove and store flammable items (including wood piles) well away from your house
- Make sure that pressure relief valves on LPG cylinders face away from your house
Know the fire danger ratings
Have an understanding of the bushfire alert levels and what they mean. Using the fire danger ratings can help you make the decision to stay or evacuate your home. Watch the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) video here to help you understand the fire danger ratings.
Have a bushfire survival plan
Put pen to paper and write down exactly what your plans would be if a bushfire were to happen in or around your area and record important information you might need, including:
Emergency information:Medicare number, passport number, tax file number, Driver Licence number, vehicle registration, emergency contact numbers, local SES number and your local RFS contact details.
Important services information:List the company, account number and contact details of your electricity, gas, water, internet, phone and insurance providers, as well as your local radio frequency channel.
Meeting place: Write down your family’s agreed meeting place and the location and address of where you need to go in case of an evacuation. Also list alternative places to stay like community safe places or the addresses of relative and friends.
Medical needs: If you or someone in your family requires regular medication or has a medical condition, list all the fine details – like doctor names and contact details, medication types and dosages – and ways in which you plan to manage the condition during and after the fire. If someone in your family has special needs or has a disability, communicate the plan to them and practice it annually so in case an emergency does happen, everyone is aware of what actions to take.
Emergency kit: It’s always a good idea to prepare an emergency kit. Have it packed with all the essential items your family will need and store it in an easily accessible area – ready to grab in case you need to quickly evacuate.
Pet plan: There’s always the possibility of pets being frightened by fires – which means they could run away or hide. That’s why it’s extremely important to have a pet plan in place, including having important information on hand – like your pet’s name, microchip number and vet/kennel contact details – and what you would do to care for them.
Take care of your neighbours
Connect with your neighbours, keep each other informed on days of increased fire danger and make sure you are aware of each other’s needs and capabilities. If there are any elderly neighbours who need extra support in an emergency, be sure to keep an eye out for them and work together with your local community to help them remain safe.
Keep your insurance up-to-date
Make sure your home and contents insurance is up-to-date and that the sum insured amount is sufficient enough to cover your property and valuables. Keeping your insurer and policy details in a safe place will make it easier for you to contact them in case of an emergency. Rest assured we have your details on file too.
If you’ve been impacted by bushfires, please call us on13 11 23 so we can provide immediate support.