Preparing your property for the bushfire season is a critical part of protecting your property’s value and the safety of everyone who lives there.
Exactly what is legally required of property owners when it comes to preparing your home for the fire season depends on your own state and local municipality regulations but to give you and your home the best chance of surviving the bushfire season, there are important steps you can take to help reduce the risk of bushfires damaging your property and possessions.
Mature trees can actually offer some protection in bushfires, as they can help shield against radiant heat and embers that could impact buildings on your property. For mature trees to be utilised in this way, requires some strategic, long-term planning of planting and building placements and the trees must also be well-managed throughout their life.
Remove flammable materials
No matter where you live, the removal of flammable materials, including boxes, outdoor furniture, planter boxes and doormats, from decks, verandahs and patios, is a positive, pro-active measure that can help minimise your fire risk. By removing flammable materials from close to your home, you reduce the risk of fire getting dangerously close to your home – something that can have devastating consequences.
Mow lawns regularly
By keeping the grass around your home and other buildings short and well-maintained, you reduce the fuel that can feed a fire. Grass should be cut to less than 10 centimetres. Long grass gives fire the opportunity to travel quickly and by reducing it, you give your property the best possible chance at surviving a nearby fire.
That woodpile you’ve been stacking may be great for pizza ovens, fire pits, barbecues and indoor fireplaces but, when it comes to bushfire season, it’s a great way to feed a fire close to your home.
If you need a woodpile, position it far from your home and other buildings to help minimise the chance of stray embers setting it alight and creating a bigger fire risk near your home.
Store flammables securely
All flammable liquids should be stored well away from your home. Be aware that if are storing in a shed, near vehicles, this can also pose a threat. If possible, store flammable liquids in flame-proof containers.
Reduce leaf litter
Leaves and twigs might make good compost in your garden beds but during bushfire season, twigs, dry grass and loose bark can be the perfect fuel for bushfires. Be sure to collect leaf litter regularly to help reduce fire fuel near your home.
Prune shrubs and small trees
Regular trimming of lower branches on shrubs and small trees helps create an important separation between surface fuels on the ground and higher tree canopies. Shrubs that are planted near mature trees should be carefully pruned to create a distance between the smaller shrubs and the bigger branches of mature trees. Cutting back low-hanging branches of bigger trees is also critical.
Any branches that over-hang buildings should be trimmed to maintain a distance of at least 10 metres between trees and your home or other buildings.
Planting shrubs near windows is not recommended and by placing pebbles and rocks, instead of plant mulch, in garden beds, you can reduce fire risk.
All gutters and roof areas should be free of leaf litter. Consider fire-retardant gutter-guards to help reduce your risks.
Home maintenance matters
Ahead of fire season, checking for missing or broken roof tiles is an important way to reduce the risk of embers in your roof. By ensuring your roof is well-sealed with quality tiles or roofing material, you can help prevent embers reaching your ceiling space.
Update all fire equipment
All fire safety equipment in and around your home should be regularly checked and updated.
This includes fire extinguishers, fire blankets, hoses and pumps. Make sure your hoses are long enough to reach the perimeter of your property as well.
Have an emergency plan
Creating a practical emergency plan is a key step in protecting your property during bushfire season but ensuring everyone who lives and works on the property understands the plan is just as important.
Update your insurances
If you’ve recently moved to a regional or rural area, it’s important to check that your home and car insurance is updated and suits your unique needs. Under-insurance is a big issue for people who are affected by fire damage and by ensuring you have the best possible insurance cover in place, you can help protect the value of your most important assets.
Remember – if you are in a regional or rural area, you may need a permit to clear vegetation, trees and branches near your home or property. Check with your local council or local fire authority to ensure you understand what you can or can’t do safely.
Also, ensure ALL members of your family know where the closest community evacuation area is and keep mobile phones charged and accessible to assist with easy communication during bushfire danger days.
For more information on refinancing your mortgage to assist with important home maintenance issues that could help reduce your property’s bushfire risk, talk to our experienced team of home loan specialists at Lending Specialists today.