Prepare now for bush fire season – and don’t forget to check your insurance

October, 2017

Bushfires constantly create a dangerous risk to life, the environment and properties located in rural and urban areas.

The risk of bushfire increases as the mercury jumps in the warmer months, especially with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicting daytime temperatures are likely to be warmer than average for northern and southeastern Australia during spring.

Western Australians will need to be careful too as the weather warms up, with a report by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre forecasting a high fire risk for parts of the state, according to a report in Perth Now. The areas that are most at risk include the South West and western parts of the Great Southern regions, the Goldfields Midlands and parts of the Pilbara and north Midwest Gascoyne.

As homeowners, investors and tenants, there is very little we can do about our harsh climate. However, there is plenty we can do to ensure our properties are safe this bushfire season, whether we live in a suburb or township surrounded by bush or near to a major national park.

1. Working equipment

A garden hose, which extends to the perimetre of your property, is a must for helping to protect your home from bushfire. Likewise, ensure all hoses and tap fittings are in good working order. There is nothing worse than facing up to a raging bushfire with a faulty hose, which isn’t long enough to reach the blaze.

2. Remove possible bushfire fuels

Recycling newspapers and cardboard is a noble endeavour. However, these highly-combustible items should be safely contained if a bushfire strikes. Also remove flammable liquids or paints as they will feed the fire. Gas bottles used to fuel barbecues should be kept in a fire-safe place, and steer clear of using a barbecue in blustery bushfire conditions.

3. Be garden smart

If you don’t do anything else, be sure to clean out the roof gutters, which collect leaves and other garden flotsam and jetsam. Garden waste is extremely flammable when it dries out and will prove a magnet for flying embers.

If you have a woodpile left over from winter, locate it well away from the house, as it’s a hazardous stimulant for a bushfire. Trees with overhanging branches are another potential fire risk. If you can’t trim the trees yourself, commission a gardener or arborist to undertake some pruning.

It also pays to keep the lawn clipped and to take a rake to any leaf piles. Dead leaves represent a major hazard should a bushfire explode in your neighbourhood.

4. Neighbourhood watch

It may pay to share your ideas about protecting your home from bushfire with your neighbours. This will ensure everyone is well-prepared for the warmer months. Similarly, don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbours about their firefighting plans and precautions, as you may find yourselves in the firing line together.

If there is bushland or national parkland nearby, contact your local council to make sure there is a firebreak cleared or maintained to help protect local properties.

5. Check your insurance coverage

While cover for fire is standard in most home and contents insurance policies, natural disasters such as a bushfire may not be insured.

Usually, bushfires are addressed under the natural disaster section of your insurance policy. You can find this information in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) that will be issued by your insurer when you purchased the cover. If you’re still not sure about your bushfire coverage, contact a finance specialist from Our Broker on 1800 913 677 for more information.