How to prepare your home and car for a bushfire

Bushfires can be unpredictable and fast-moving, often leaving very little time to make vital decisions. It’s important to plan ahead before each bushfire season and prepare your home and car to help keep you and your family safe. 

If you live in a bushfire prone area, there are simple ways you can help protect your home and family before the start of the season.

Plan ahead by documenting a bushfire survival plan, clearing your garden of flammable materials and leaf litter, and reviewing your home and car insurance documents to ensure you have the right level of cover.

Safety guidance and emergency contact information may differ state by state. Please refer to the Bureau of Meteorology website to learn more about how to prepare for a fire where you live.

1. Create a bushfire plan

You may want to create a bushfire survival plan and discuss it with every member of the household, so each person knows exactly what to do in case of a fire.

A bushfire plan includes knowing the risk in the area you live, preparing the home and creating an equipment and action checklist that anyone in the home can follow.

For more information about bushfire preparation and creating a plan, check out the NSW Rural Fire Service’s Bushfire Survival Plan.

Remember, it’s also important to regularly check, test and update your fire safety equipment in the home, like your smoke alarms and fire blankets.

2. Clear out your gutters

Embers and sparks can quickly set leaves alight – so it’s a good idea to engage a professional gutter cleaning service to clear your roof, gutters and downpipes of debris.

For extra fireproofing, you could also attach a sprinkler system to the gutters and install gutter guards which can help prevent leaves from gathering. 

3. Maintain your garden and fencing

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.

If you’re in a bushfire prone area, consider:

  • Breaking up your garden with decorative paving
  • Where you can, opt for metal fences which can better withstand extreme heat
  • Ensuring an outdoor water supply is accessible, like a water tank or sprinkler system
  • Checking your garden hose is long enough to reach the entire perimeter of your property

For more tips on preparing your property for a bushfire, you may like to consult the Country Fire Service (CFS) website.

4. Remove flammable items

Remove flammable items and hazards in your backyard to prevent providing fuel to bushfires. These can include mats and furniture on your veranda or deck, wood or rubbish piles, aerosols, paint cans and flammable liquids like petrol.

It’s also important to keep an eye out for loose or damaged roof tiles and promptly repair gaps in your external walls to prevent embers from getting in.

5. Prepare 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.

Be vigilant when travelling on the road during bushfire season. The Country Fire Service (CFS) website has tips on what to do if you’re trapped by fire whilst in a vehicle.

6. Check your insurance cover

Regularly review your home and car insurance to ensure your cover is up to date and offers the right level of protection for your circumstances.

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.

To stay informed and learn more about preparing for a fire in your state, please review the fire agencies listed on the Bureau of Meteorology.

Things you should know

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice.

Home Insurance and Car Insurance are provided and issued by Hollard Insurance Partners Limited ABN 96 067 524 216, AFSL 235030 (Hollard) and distributed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124, AFSL 234945 (CBA). Hollard is not part of the CBA Group. CBA and its related entities do not sell, issue or guarantee the obligations or performance of Hollard or the products Hollard offers and these insurance products do not represent a deposit with or liability of either CBA or any of its related bodies corporate. If you purchase a Home Insurance and/or Car Insurance policy, CBA is paid a commission which is a percentage of your premium.

For products issued by Hollard, information about the target market can be found within the product’s Target Market Determination available here.

This information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should, before acting on this, consider the appropriateness of the product to your circumstances. A Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) is available at all Commonwealth Bank branches, by downloading them from or by calling 13 2423 and should be considered before making any decisions about this product. You should also read the Premium, Excess and Discount Guide (PEDG)Key Facts Sheets (KFS), and Financial Services Guide (FSG) by clicking on the links, or by calling 13 2423 for a paper copy.