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How to prepare for bushfires

Published 18 January 2021 

Bushfires are a very real threat in Australia so it pays to be prepared. 

Are you bushfire ready?

Bushfires are a fact of life in Australia and are affecting more areas than before. From bushfires sweeping through sub-tropical rainforest in Queensland in September 2019 to the 2019-20 bushfire season being the most challenging NSW has ever faced, it’s important you’re prepared. 

Growing risk of bushfires

Bushfires are a common event in Australia and with the impact of climate change the risk of bushfires is only going to increase. A combination of below average rainfall across southern states and last summer being the sixth-driest on record means a lot of Australia is experiencing drought conditions. Drought conditions increase the risk of bushfires so it’s more important than ever to protect your home particularly if you’re in a fire-prone area.

The map below shows the potential for bushfires across Australia with the eastern seaboard particularly affected. This is calculated using the recent and predicted weather for the particular area, the dryness of the land and forests, recent fire history and local firefighting information. 

Conditions for a bushfire

There are a few environmental factors that can affect the likelihood of a bushfire, as well as the speed and ferocity. While preparing your home is important, so is keeping an eye on the environmental factors below:

  • Fuel load - This includes the amount of fallen bark, leaf litter and small branches accumulated around your home and surrounding areas. This is why it’s important to keep gutters free of leaf litter and your garden in good order. If you live near the bush or your property back onto a nature reserve the fuel load near your property may increase.
  • Fuel moisture - Wet fuel is less likely to catch fire, so think about when your property last had rain and whether it was a sprinkle or a decent amount. If you have regular hot and dry weather consider dousing your garden and roof on days when bushfire risk is high.
  • Wind speed – A windy and dry day is a perfect combination for fires. Wind can carry embers a long way and result in spot fires up to 30km from the initial ignition site.
  • Temperature – The higher the temperature, the more likely it is that a fire will start or continue to burn.
  • Slope angle – If you live on top of a hill or valley, you may be at risk as fires accelerate when travelling uphill and decelerate travelling downhill. 

Bushfire preparation checklist 

So what can you do ahead of time to reduce the risk of your home being affected by a bushfire? Consider taking the steps below:

  • Create a Bushfire Survival Plan together as a household. Chat to your neighbours as well to see how you can help each other should the time come.  
  • Make sure your phone provider has your most up-to-date address. This allows emergency services to send an Emergency Alert warning to all telephones registered to your address.
  • Clear your gutters of debris and consider installing gutter guards to keep leaf litter out.
  • Check your roof for any damaged or missing tiles.
  • Cut back trees or shrubs in and around your home. Check your local council’s policy on tree trimming.
  • Enclose areas under the house that are exposed.
  • Keep your gardens tidy and lawns short to remove combustible material.
  • Have hoses long enough to reach all areas of your house.
  • Move flammable items away from the house. This includes woodpiles, compost area, garden furniture and the like.
  • Get home and contents insurance if you don’t have it already, or review the levels of cover you have.  If you don’t have any insurance it’s important to take out cover sooner rather than later, as insurers may not cover damage caused by a fire in the first 48 hours of the policy starting.

Understand the importance of getting the right amount of sum insured for your home, and what full building replacement covers.

Will ANZ home insurance cover me for bushfires?

Yes, ANZ Home Insurance offers full building replacement should your house be totally destroyed as a result of bushfires and can also cover damage to your possessions. ANZ Home & Contents Insurance has been recognised by CHOICE® as the best performer in its Home & Contents Insurance category for 2020!

Recognised by Choice

Find out more about ANZ Home and Contents Insurance

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This information is current as at date of publication and is subject to change.

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