Are you prepared to defend your home against a bushfire? Here are the necessary steps to take in the event of a bushfire that’s close to home.
Recent Australian bushfires have burnt across approximately 18.6million hectares, destroyed just under 6000 buildings and have killed an estimated one billion animals, pushing some species to the brink of extinction.
Bushfires are a natural part of the Australian environment and although you may not live near bushland, it’s a good idea to at least have a plan of action in the event of an incident.
Whether you decide to defend and protect your home or have to do the unthinkable and leave it all behind, these essential tips can be used as a bushfire preparation checklist and are here to help reduce the risk to your family and home.
What to prepare before a bushfire
There’s an age old saying that prevention is better than cure. By preparing your home before and during bushfire season, you will give it the best chance for surviving a bushfire, if one did happen to hit your area.
Before and during bushfire season, follow this checklist:
- Regularly clean leaves and debris from gutters, roofs and downpipes.
- Install high quality metal gutter guards.
- If you live near fire-prone bushland, consider installing a well insulated garage door with reflective foil backing and fire retardant.
- Install steel mesh screens on all windows, doors, vents and weep holes and avoid plastic fly screens on windows and doors.
- Remove any flammable materials and keep your backyard tidy and clean.
- If you do have any flammable materials such as woodpiles, paper, boxes, garden furniture and other flammable items, relocate them away from your home.
- Install a garden hose that is long enough to reach around the perimeter of your property.
- Make sure all LPG cylinders installed have the pressure relief valve facing outwards and away from your house.
- Make sure all family members know where the community evacuation area is.
- If you have a swimming pool, put a Static Water Sign at the front of your property. Contact your local fire station for more information.
- Develop a written bushfire survival plan and discuss it with family members.
Defending your home from a bushfire
If the inevitable is coming and there is a bushfire in your area, the first thing to do is not to panic – be calm but act assertively. Read this checklist on “how do I fire proof my house”, or at least how to reduce your risk when a bushfire is imminent.
Follow this bushfire safety checklist:
- Put on protective clothing — long sleeved shirts, long trousers, broad brim hat, goggles, leather boots and gloves. Avoid anything synthetic.
- Fill up all water storages inside the home, including baths, sinks and buckets
- Fill up external water storages wherever possible.
- Roll out hoses, check pumps, fill up backpack sprayers and test sprinkler systems.
- Close all windows and doors to prevent smoke, flames and embers entering your home.
- Place wet woollen blankets or cotton towels around the inside of windows and doors to prevent smoke and embers from entering.
- Close all window shutters.
- Turn off your air conditioning system to avoid smoke and embers being drawn into it.
- Block downpipes and fill gutters with water.
- Park cars in the driveway facing the street.
- Make sure all pets are safely contained inside.
- Keep a battery-powered radio nearby in case the power, telephone or mobile reception is cut off.
- Monitor Emergency WA for the latest updates and advice.
- Hose down the roof, external walls and garden area that are facing the fire.
- If you start to notice embers flying around, turn on the sprinkler system if you have one.
- Continue to patrol your property for embers and extinguish them as they land, providing it’s safe to do so.
- Keep an emergency bushfire kit ready — first aid kit, spare batteries, portable torch, any required medications, and plenty of drinking water.
- Keep all valuable items and documents in a metal cabinet, packed and ready to go.
- Drink plenty of cool water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
If you decide to leave your home in the event of a bushfire
If you have to leave your home because it’s simply too dangerous, or if emergency services have advised that you must leave and no amount of bushfire preparation is enough, this is what you must do.
Stay calm, act assertively, and follow this checklist for leaving in a bush fire in Australia:
- Close all windows and doors, and fill up all water storages inside the home, including sinks, baths and buckets.
- Make sure the garage door is closed.
- Move all outdoor furniture away from the house.
- Pack food, plenty of drinking water and your emergency bushfire kit.
- Take all your valuable items and documents, which have been packed and ready to go.
- Close doors and windows.
- Switch off mains gas supply and air conditioning systems.
- Make sure everyone is wearing protective clothing.
- Discuss a back-up plan, including where you will stay if it is unsafe to return to your home.
- When seeking shelter, find your local place of last resort, could be a ploughed paddock or beach, dam or river.
- Radiant heat can be potentially fatal, make sure there is a solid object such as a concrete wall between you and the fire.
Returning home after the bushfire has passed
Although the fire has passed, you are not completely out of the woods yet. If you are returning home, exercise extreme caution as there’s no telling what was burning around your property. Authorities recommend staying away from the area until you have been advised it is safe to do so. High levels of radiant heat can be dangerous and potentially fatal, so we recommend continuing wearing your protective clothing and keeping hydrated.
Even though the fire has passed, you should still check the following:
- If you have your portable radio, stay tuned in to ABC radio station or check the Department of Fire and Emergency Services for information and updates.
- Actively patrol your property for any embers hours after the fire has passed. Make sure to check:
- Roof lines and gutters
- Garden beds
- Around outdoor furniture
- Sheds and carports
- Verandahs, alfresco areas and decking
- Window ledges and door sills
- Continue to water down the outside of your home, including the roof, external walls, and garden areas.
Can you fireproof the garage?
You can’t make a garage completely fireproof, but you can definitely increase its resistance. As we said earlier in this article, prevention is better than cure, and the best way to do that for the garage is with a Gryphon Garage Door.
If you’re still asking “how do you prepare for bushfire season”, we can tell you that a Gryphon fire resistant door will give you an increased chance to keep damage to your property to a minimum.