Regional households should plan for bushfires

BE ON GUARD: A number of household chores, such as cleaning gutters and mowing the lawn, will help keep your home safe from bushfires. Photos: Shutterstock
BE ON GUARD: A number of household chores, such as cleaning gutters and mowing the lawn, will help keep your home safe from bushfires. Photos: Shutterstock

WHILE good spring rain has drenched much of Australia, preparing for bushfires should still be a priority, particularly for rural households.

Fallen bark, leaf litter and grass tussocks all make for good fire fuel.

Rural fire services across the country have developed bushfire survival plans to help families take steps to protect their homes.

All services underline the importance of holding a family, or household, conversation before outlining any plan.

Take the opportunity at the dinner table to discuss whether your family should leave or stay if a bushfire threatens your home.

The safest choice is leaving early; if this is the case, talk about when you would all leave and where you would go.

Make a list of possessions you need and want to take and remember mementos such as photos and other items that can't be replaced.

If you all decide to stay in the event of a fire, do an audit of your home to see if you have the correct equipment to battle any flames.

FAMILY MEETING: Involve all the family when making your bushfire plan, talking about whether to stay or leave your home should an emergency arise.

FAMILY MEETING: Involve all the family when making your bushfire plan, talking about whether to stay or leave your home should an emergency arise.

Once your plan is in place, set about making your home as fireproof as possible.

Everyday chores such as mowing will help to keep a clear area around your home. Also, consider trimming overhead tree branches and clearing your property of any flammable items, such as discarded paint tins.

Familiarise yourself with bushfire levels; these are the same from state to state (advice, watch and act and emergency warning).

Finally, ensure you know how and where to access essential information, such as storing 000 in your mobile phone, a quick link to the rural fire service website for regular updates on nearby bushfires, and even accessing social media for the latest information.

"Now is the time to update and discuss your bush fire survival plan," NSW commissioner Rob Rogers said.

"Have the conversation with your family about what you will do during a fire, talk about when you'll leave, where you'll go, what you'll take and what you'll do with animals."

It's essential to make your bushfire plan sooner rather than too late. For details on making a bushfire survival plan, see myfireplan.com.au.

Clean your gutters

DRIED leaves and other debris from nearby vegetation should be cleared from your gutters at least twice a year.

Consider over-the-gutter mesh to keep unwanted items from your gutter, particularly if you live in a bushfire prone area.

A professional gutter-cleaning service may save you time and be safer than tackling the job yourself.

Install a sprinkler

HIGH heat can trigger fire sprinklers in and around your home, providing good protection from nearby bushfires.

Depending on where you live, your insurance policy may dictate some form of sprinkler system be installed in your home.

It is worth calling a plumber to see if you have sufficient water pressure and the necessary equipment to install a sprinkler system.

Also have sprinklers on the ground.

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