Time to prepare for bush fire season

NOVEMBER 16, 2018

Bushfires always pose a serious risk to life, the environment and properties located in rural and urban areas, according to Angus Raine, Executive Chairman of Raine & Horne.

“The risk of bushfire increases as the mercury jumps in the warmer months, especially with the Bureau of Metrology (BOM) predicting a hotter than average summer,” said Mr Raine.

November temperatures are likely to be warmer than average for southern Australia, with below-average rainfall across the southeast and parts of the north but above-average rainfall across large parts of the west, according to the BOM[i].

The November to January climate outlook, issued in late October 2018, indicates large parts of Australia are likely to be drier than average.

Mr Raine commented, “November is likely to be drier than average in many areas of Australia according to the bureau.”

November to January days are very likely to be warmer than average for most of Australia, noted the BOB. Nights are also likely to be warmer than average, except for areas surrounding the Great Australian Bight.

A drier and warmer than average three months would mean a low chance of recovery for drought-affected areas of eastern Australia and will create dangerous bush fire conditions in many parts of Australia, noted Mr Raine.

“Clearly our harsh summer climate is beyond our control. However, we do have some control over the steps we take to prepare to defend our properties against bush fires this summer.”

  1. Remove possible bushfire fuels

Newspapers and cardboard are highly combustible, so make sure your recycling is securely contained if a bushfire threatens your area, warned Mr Raine.

“Remove flammable liquids or paints, too, as they will feed the fire.

“Gas bottles used to fuel barbecues and outdoor lighting should be stored in a fire-safe place, and steer clear of using a barbecue in blustery bushfire conditions.”

  1. Tidy up garden waste

Be sure to clean out your roof gutters, which collect leaves and other garden refuse, said Mr Raine.  “Garden waste is extremely flammable when it dries out, and it can be set ablaze by flying embers,” he said.

“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 drooping branches are potential fire risks. If you can’t trim the trees yourself, get a gardener or arborist to do trim the foliage back.”

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

  1. Neighbourhood watch

Communicate strategies with your neighbours about protecting property from bushfire. Sharing tips with neighbours will ensure your street, town and region is well-prepared for bush fire season.  

“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,” said Mr Raine.

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

  1. Make sure your hose works

It might sound very basic, but a garden hose that extends to the boundary of your property is a must for helping to protect your home against summer fires, advised Mr Raine.

“Ensure all hoses and tap fittings are in good working order. There is nothing worse than facing a furious bushfire with a faulty hose or isn’t long enough to reach the blaze.”

  1. Check your insurance coverage

Cover for fire is standard in most home and contents insurance policies, however natural disasters such as bushfires may not be insured.

Industry research indicates that 8 in 10 homeowners are probably underinsured for their home and contents, while a third of property owners risk underinsurance by not updating their contents policies to cover new possessions[ii].

Up to a quarter of householders say they’re not sure what is covered by their home and contents insurance policies, while, almost 70% of renters do not have contents insurance, compared with only 7% of homeowners.

“Many householders risk underinsurance or insufficient cover by selecting their policy based on price rather than the coverage they need, said Tim Brown, Consultant, with financial services group Our Broker.

 “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 was issued by your insurer when you purchased the cover.”

If you’re not sure about your insurance coverage for bushfire damage, contact a finance specialist from Our Broker on 1800 913 677 for more information.


[i] http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/overview/summary

[ii] http://understandinsurance.com.au/