Prepare for storm and bushfire season
Ask any Australian what the start of summer means for their plans they’ll say Christmas, barbecues, swimming and holidays. What most of us forget to factor in to those plans is bushfire preparation. Even fewer think of storms.
Yet in the wide brown land down summer is also bushfire and storm season. It’s still spring, but Sydney has already experienced two major bushfires, made worse by gale force winds.
Just because you don’t live next to bushland doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by the flames. If a bushfire knocks out a power station or affects water supply, you could find yourself facing up to several days without either. Similarly, if rail or road transport is damaged, food and medical supplies could become scarce in the shops.
We’re in for a dangerous summer
Australia’s second-wettest winter on record has fuelled rapid grass and bush growth and prompted New South Wales Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers to warn that he is “very concerned” about the fire potential this summer.
“There is huge amounts of grass growing,” he says. “We’re very concerned once that dries off and goes all brown, it’s going to be very flammable. The wet winter also hampered efforts to conduct back-burning. “We haven’t burnt as many areas as we’d have liked to,” Mr Rogers says.
He gave an ominous warning for the summer months: “The bush is quite ready to burn – we just need a few warm days.”
Preparation is the key to survival
So as you plan for party and holiday season, remember to plan for bushfire and storm season too. Following are a few tips from emergency services in all states to help ensure you’re prepared so you can get on with planning for a summer of fun.
Rural fire service websites in all states have checklists for how to prepare your home to withstand bushfire or storms. It’s also important to have an emergency plan so everyone in the house knows what to do and where to go, as well as an emergency kit that will enable you to survive for up to three days without power and water.
How to prepare your property:
- Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs
- Install metal gutter guards
- Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
- Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
- Enclose the areas under the house
- Repair or cover gaps in external walls
- Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
- Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
- Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
- Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
- Have hoses long enough to reach around your house
- If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water
- Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure your policy is up-to-date
- Secure loose items around your home before a storm
- Identify the safest room in which to shelter during a storm
Following are links to great information on bush fire and storm preparation as well as emergency plans:
- Storm Wise
- Royal Fire Service
- Department of Fire and Energy Services
- South Australia Country Fire Service
- Queensland Government
Top image via Newcastle Herald