2. Clear out your gutters
Embers and sparks can quickly set leaves alight – so it’s a good idea to clear your roof, gutters and downpipes of debris. For extra fireproofing, you could attach a sprinkler system to the gutters and install gutter guards which can help prevent leaves from gathering.
3. Mind the gaps
The NSW Rural Fire Service suggests to check your roof for any damaged or missing tiles – and repair or cover gaps in your external walls to help reduce the chance of embers getting in.
4. Maintain your garden
Cutting back any trees or shrubs near buildings, and keeping your lawn well-maintained can help minimise the spread of fire. Check with your local council on the regulation on trees as it varies by state. Don’t forget to clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property.
5. Remove flammable items
If your veranda or deck has mats, outdoor furniture, wood piles or even flammable liquids such as petrol or chemicals, move them out of the way to reduce the chance of them catching alight as summarised by the Country Fire Authority.
6. Secure the perimeters
Consider replacing timber fences with metal that can better withstand the extreme heat of a fire and attaching fine metal mesh screens on the outside of windows and doors, see also Prepare your home by NSW Rural Fire Service. Check that your garden hose has a reliable source of water and is long enough to reach the entire perimeter of your property.
7. Protect your car
In a bushfire, your car can be an essential escape option. But remember, driving into a fire front is extremely dangerous, so plan to leave early. If your car is garaged, make sure a garage door opener is part of your emergency kit, and that you are familiar with the manual opening mechanism if there is a power outage.
On high fire-risk days, the Victorian Country Fire Authority recommends, parking your car in the driveway facing out. This makes it easier to leave while it’s still safe to do so, or to take shelter in your car in a cleared area – like a park or paddock – as a last-resort option.
8. Check your insurance cover
Regularly reviewing your home and car insurance can help ensure you have up to date and adequate level of protection. Understanding the inclusions and exclusions of fire cover in your policy can help in case you need to make a claim. For instance, does your policy cover loss or damage to building and contents caused by fire (including bushfire), or heat, smoke or soot as a result of fire?
Generally, there’s a 48-hour waiting period after starting a policy before you can claim on bushfire damage. Check your policy, as waiting periods vary with each insurer.
It’s a good idea to know what your Bushfire Attack Level is for your property, as this could potentially increase the rebuild costs if you live in a bushfire risk area.
You can get help estimating the replacement cost of your building and contents using the Building Insurance Calculator or Contents Insurance Calculator as a guide.