The devastating bushfires during the 2019/20 Summer in Australia has made fire protection of our homes a key priority.
Clean Roof Gutters
A fire can break out at any time, and many homeowners are not prepared. As temperatures rise, vegetation that has grown over the past several months can dry out and become a fire hazard.
Although it might seem cold outside, and some parts of the Australia have had plenty of rain, this weekend could be the ideal time to check your home’s gutters and clean them out. If you cannot access them, organize a professional or family member to help you. Debris from overhanging trees and fallen leaves can clog up pipes and drains. By clearing them out, you are restricting the potential threat of fire.
As a landlord, you may wish to consider leasing the property inclusive of a gardener who completes regularl property maintenance. This ensures the tenants do not have to clearing leaves from gutters and roofs, cut back overhanging trees, mowing grass, and raking up leaves. As a landlord, you also have the peace of mind knowing that your property is lowering he risk of preventing damage or destruction from fire.
Remove Excess Waste
It is important to keep your home and its surrounding area free of old aluminum containers, cans of paint or other flammable materials. All Australian shires and councils have regular waste removal days scheduled. Check your local municipal website for these days and make it a habit to discard all old materials that can be hazardous.
One important tip is to check that pressure relief valves on LPG cylinders face away from your home, and if portable, store them away safely. Power tools and garden machinery should be stored in a cool area away and petrol cans kept at minimum quantities away from electrical cords.
Review your Fire Safety Plan
If you haven’t already, create your fire safety plan. Update your local emergency services contact numbers so that you can call them as soon as a fire breaks out. Apps like ‘Disaster Watch’ and other local fire service apps can tell you what the current risk level is and whether there are any fires nearby.
If you live in a bushfire prone area, check with your local fire brigade for any fact sheets or checklists they may have available to help you get properly prepared. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has an invaluable resource to help your bushfire plan.
Victoria has the Vic Emergency app (iPhone | Android) which covers all kinds of emergencies and natural disasters in one handy place, while the RFS has Fires Near Me NSW (iPhone | Android) and Fires Near Me Australia (iPhone | Android).
Prepare Your Home to Survive a Bushfire
Even though a bushfire may be many kilometres away from your home, falling embers can set fire to chairs and cushions on verandas, be drawn into unprotected roof cavities, and set alight sheds as well as equipment scattered around your property.
Walk around your property and imagine a bushfire is coming. It’s vital that you have removed and safely stored all potentially combustible items that could cause a fire. Keep at least a 20 metre clear zone around your home.
Be Prepared to Fight a Fire and Leave When Instructed
You may have to try and contain the fire by yourself while waiting for the fire department to arrive. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher at your property. Have heavy clothing, boots, fireproof hats and protective goggles in an easily accessible place. Make sure you have a garden hose long enough to reach all areas of your home, and consider buying a portable, petrol driven pump to use from your pool or water tank.
However, don’t do this if you don’t feel safe doing so. While losing a home is devastating, you and your family’s lives are more important. During the 2019/20 Summer bushfires in Australia, the Bureau of Meterology provided regular updated information. Be sure to check your local shire or council websites for alerts on weather and obey instructions from fire authorities and state emergency departments on when to leave your home. Do not delay and listen to their advice.
Taking some simple, precautionary steps now can make a lifesaving difference in protecting your home and family from a fire. Review your plan yearly and be sure to update any supplies regularly.