Protect your home this bushfire season

By Ros Burton (Principal – The Real Estate People)

Bushfires are deadly and we need to be prepared for them – that’s why I return to this topic every year, because it’s one that bears repeating (especially if you live anywhere near bushland). 

It’s going to be a very hot summer and that means everything is going to be tinder-dry and prone to catching fire with the tiniest of sparks, a lightning strike or even a wayward cigarette. 

By taking a few simple precautions you can protect yourself, your family and your property should the worst happen and you encounter a fire near your home. 

Create a defensible space 

Maintaining a clear buffer zone around your home can mean the difference between a close call and a catastrophe. 

  • Cleanliness: Regularly clean roof surfaces and gutters of pine needles, leaves, branches, etc., to avoid the accumulation of flammable materials. 
  • Tree maintenance: Remove any part of a tree extending within 2 metres of the flue opening of any stove or chimney. 
  • Screening: Maintain a screen constructed of non-flammable material over the flue opening of every chimney or stovepipe. 

Landscape considerations 

The vegetation around your home can either fuel a fire or help deter it. 

  • Spacing: Plants and shrubbery should be spaced so that fire cannot be carried to your home or surrounding vegetation. 
  • Branch removal: Remove branches from trees to a height of 3 metres (and clear any ground debris). 
  • Fuel break: A wide fuel break should be maintained around all structures as flames and embers can jump a great distance (especially if it’s windy). 

Emergency preparedness 

In case a fire does break out, being prepared can help prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. 

  • Fire tools: Keep firefighting implements handy, such as a ladder (long enough to reach the roof), a shovel, rake, and an extinguisher or reliable water source. Obviously, if the fire is too intense – get yourself to safety…no property is worth your life. 
  • Evacuation routes: Each home should have at least two different entrance and exit routes. Take two minutes to practise a walk-through of an evacuation (in daylight and in the dark) and you’ll be better prepared to react if a disaster does occur. 

Fire safety requires vigilance and preparation. 

By following these steps, you can greatly reduce your home’s vulnerability to bushfires and protect your family this coming summer. 

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