Fire Action Week in Victoria brings timely attention for everyone around Australia to be prepared ahead of the summer bushfire season. We have already seen ferocious bushfires in New South Wales, and the Country Fire Association warns that parts of Victoria are at above-average risk of bush and grass fires this summer.
No matter your location, taking proactive steps to protect yourself and your property is always a wise investment. If you live in suburban areas and enjoy such things as country drives or 4WDing, hiking through forests, camping or and picnics in the bush, you are also at risk of bushfire.
Family-First offers this advice to help you minimise your risk and be prepared.
Preparing your property
Take these essential steps to protect your property and your home:
- Long grass is an easy fire accelerant, so keep it cut to no more than 10cm high
- Rake-up and dispose of grass, branches, twigs, leaves and bark, and keep your gutters and roof clear
- Keep woodpiles away from your house
- Store flammable liquids in flame-proof containers, away from your house and sheltered in a shed
- Prune lower branches of shrubs to separate them from the ground, and prune tops to keep them separated from mature trees
- Cut tree branches back that are close to your buildings – leave at least ten meters space
- Do not grow large shrubs next to nor under windows
- Instead of mulch, use pebbles or rocks in gardens
- Secure flammable items like furniture, doormats and boxes off your veranda
- Check your garden hoses are in good working order, and can reach around your house and to your property boundaries
Protection inside the home
Inside your home, inspect your smoke alarms – without a properly-functioning smoke alarm, you are 60% less likely to survive a house fire. Make sure their batteries have been replaced at least once a year, and give them a clean by vacuuming dust so they can work effectively. Also, check when they were manufactured or if they have an expiry date, because smoke alarms have a lifespan of ten years.
Safe barbecue cooking
Summer barbecues are an Australian tradition, and you can enjoy them safely with a fire blanket. We know to have one in the kitchen, but it is also a great idea to keep a fire blanket with your barbecue. If an accident happens, being able to quickly place a fire blanket over a problem can help extinguish a fire and prevent something bigger from developing, especially in the outdoors which can spread rapidly.
Further prepared with extinguishers
Having fire extinguishers is another way to further protect your house and prevent a small fire from turning into a much bigger one. Family-First specialise in dry powder extinguishers, which can be used in more situations, and have a variety of sizes up to 2.3kg; the FF2330 model features a hose to help direct the powder to the base of the fire and put it out sooner.
Fire Action Week – Prepare. Act. Survive.
After the devastating Black Saturday Victorian bushfires in 2009, the slogan of ‘Prepare. Act. Survive.’ was adopted nationally as a plan to help you stay as safe as possible before, during and after a bushfire.
Visit these pages now for more information applicable to your local area:
- ACT Emergency Services Agency
- Country Fire Authority (CFA)
- Department of Fire and Emergency Services
- Fire and Rescue NSW
- Metropolitan Fire Board (MFB)
- NSW Rural Fire Service
- Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service
- Rural Fire Service Queensland
- Queensland Fire and Rescue Service
- South Australian Country Fire Service
- South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service
- Tasmania Fire Service