No one wants a repeat of last summer. Over 3,000 homes were destroyed by bushfires1, and the heartache, financial burden and disruption to lives came with a tremendous toll.
Weather patterns are unpredictable – fires too. But there is plenty you can do to prepare your property ahead of the peak fire season. Here are five the key steps to tick off before summer arrives.
1. Minimise fuel load
The CSIRO says at least 85% of homes destroyed by bushfires were victims of ember attacks. Reduce the risk by removing as much flammable material from around your home as possible. Clean out gutters, keep the lawn short, trim trees and bushes that are in close proximity to, or which overhang, your home. Gather dead leaves, twigs and other debris that has been building up in the yard, and take the lot to the tip.
2. Install a roof top sprinkler system
Embers can travel exceptional distances – up to 30 kilometres ahead of the main fire front, and in high winds they can be accompanied by airborne leaves and twigs.
A rooftop sprinkler system extinguishes embers, and cools surface temperatures preventing windows cracking. Head to major hardware stores for advice on DIY installation of a rooftop sprinkler. It can be more affordable than you think.
3. Rethink mulch
Mulch prevents garden beds drying out in summer, however, the CSIRO cautions that it is one of the worst materials to have near a home during a bushfire.
Not only does mulch hold enough radiant heat to ignite home timbers, it also readily re-ignites after a fire has been extinguished. Think about replacing plant-based mulch (such as wood chips) with non-combustible gravel to reduce evaporation and weed growth.
4. Have your hoses sorted
Fire is no slow coach, able to travel at speeds of 30 kilometres per hour. Valuable time can be lost if you have to hunt around for a hose connector when your home is under threat.
Have garden hoses ready in place. Ideally, they should be able to reach the perimeter of your property. Keep hoses coiled neatly, and test them periodically to be sure no cracks and splits have developed that will reduce water pressure.
5. Review your home and contents cover
Despite repeated bushfire crisis, home owners often find themselves underinsured (or worse, not insured at all) in the aftermath of a tragedy. It can make the road to recovery far more stressful. It's important to get expert advice and make sure you have the right level of home and contents cover in place.
Importantly, it helps you be clear on exactly what you are – and are not covered for – in the event your home is damaged or destroyed by bushfire.
Expert advice pays off
When it comes to making improvements to your home, it’s worthwhile to consider what features you can incorporate to minimise the damaging effects of a potential bushfire.
Whether you’re considering undertaking major renovations or minor improvements, when it comes to financing your next project, reach out to your local Mortgage Choice broker, they can assist in finding a lending solution that is right for your needs.