Many of you have been affected by this season’s wildfires. If you live in an area at risk of bushfires then you need to create a plan today to protect your home if possible. At the very least, you will want to protect your life. It doesn’t matter whether the property in a bushfire area is your permanent home or a place you have built to retreat to in the event of a major disaster.
The aim is the same, to do what you can to reduce grassfire risk at the property so you are protected as much as possible from bushfires.
Before you start adjusting parts of your survival home to protect against bushfires, you should consider the risk that a bushfire presents to your life. Thousands of homes have been destroyed thanks to bushfires. In fact, it is estimated over 2,000 properties were destroyed over the summer of 2020/2021.
In short, it can happen and the best thing to do is be prepared. That means having an escape plan.
An escape plan involves a fire monitoring system and a safe route away from the fire.
The key to successfully monitoring for bushfires is to understand how bushfires behave. The biggest risk days are when it is hot, dry, and windy. This will allow a fire to start and quickly move in one direction.
You should check the Bureau of Meteorology report which is issued every day at 4 pm for the next day. This will give you the likelihood of a bushfire and the wind direction. You will then be able to calculate the biggest risk area according to wind direction and keep your eyes and ears open.
It is best to listen to the radio and your neighbors.
The Route Out
If you hear there is a bushfire and it is heading in your direction the best thing you can do is get out of your property. You should have several escape routes worked out, allowing you to get out regardless of which direction the fire is coming from.
Of course, you may prefer to stay, this is your prerogative and your decision will be based on the strength of the fire and the direction it is coming from and moving in.
Reduce grassfire Risk
The bottom line is that you can’t stop a bushfire from starting. Although, it is interesting to note that roughly 50% of bushfires were started intentionally.
Whatever the cause, you can take steps to reduce the risk to your property.
Make sure your home has protection
Wooden homes burn easily which is why you are safer if you have a brick or even a metal home. If your home is wooden then you may want to coat it with a fire-resistant chemical or simply clad it with a fire-resistant material.
Alongside this, you should invest in bushfire shutters. These can be closed and are effective at blocking the fire from getting into your home. This allows you more time to escape or can be enough to prevent the fire from getting in. You should also make sure the areas under your home are enclosed with fire-resistant material.
Landscaping to reduce grassfire risk
The next stage is to look at your yard. You need to keep the grass short as this will make it harder for the fire to spread. Alongside this, it is a good idea to ensure there are no trees or bushes near your home. The fire generally spreads from tree to tree. If there are no trees and no grass to burn then the fire cannot reach your home.
For this reason, you may find it beneficial to add concrete edging to your home and perhaps one at the border of your property. Fire cannot burn its way across the concrete, providing the concrete is wide enough it will protect your home. You can incorporate this into your landscape plans.
Naturally, any trees and bushes you have should be trimmed and all debris around the yard should be cleared, this will help to reduce the possibility of fire reaching your home.
Many Australians invest in a sprinkler system that is attached to their gutters. This approach raises the height of the sprinkler and, when a bushfire approaches, you can activate the sprinklers. It will keep the ground in front of the fire moist, making it harder for the fire to burn. Effectively blocking the fire will quickly persuade it to move in another direction.
Alongside the sprinkler system in the gutters, you should take the time to clear all the gutters of leaves and twigs. This reduces the material that can burn, adding metal gutter guards can also help
Inspect Your Roof
Any gaps in your roof will increase the likelihood of the fire getting past and into your home. Once it takes hold it will quickly do serious damage to your home. You generally have less than two minutes to get out of a house on fire.
Build A Trench
This is a more extreme option but worth considering if you are having a lot of issues with bushfires and your property. In effect, you will be making a moat around your home. That means digging a trench and ensuring it stays clear of garden debris or filling in with water.
It should be noted that having a water source in your garden should be disclosed to the fire services as they may have need of the water to deal with bushfires.
This is particularly important if you plan to stay at the property during the bushfire. The smoke produced by this type of fire is thick and can be deadly. You need to seal all the gaps in your property and ensure you have a ventilation system that can circulate air inside your home, keeping the air filtered and clean in the process. Optionally, full face respirator masks would help you see and breathe through the smoke.
The key to being prepared for a bushfire is to check your property and ensure that all maintenance is up to date and that the property is as fire-resistant as possible. After that, you simply need to monitor the situation and decide whether to stay put or evacuate.
To make this decision you need to know as much about bushfires as possible. That means being aware of threats and defending against them.
Before The Fire Arrives
Up to thirty minutes before a fire starts you will start to notice it. The sky will start to get darker and this will increase the closer the fire gets. You will also start to see the smoke in the distance. This is thick smoke that blocks the sun, causing darkness.
It should be noted that the smoke is very dangerous.
Alongside this, the temperature will start to climb and you will start to hear the sounds of the fire. This is when the embers of the fire will start to arrive and you need to keep them off your house or put them out as quickly as you can.
This is when it pays to have a clearing in your yard, allowing you to extinguish any small fires that start.
It is important to have protective gear on, including a face mask. This will help to protect you from being burned and allow you to breathe while fighting the fire.
As The Fire Hits
At this stage, your decision is made and you have to stay inside the house. It will be too hot to stay outside. In fact, as the fire arrives that is one of the things you will notice the most, the wall of heat that hits your home.
There will also be plenty of loud noises, smoke, flames, and it will become pitch dark. You may also experience a power failure.
It usually takes about twenty minutes for a bushfire to pass your property, during this time it is best to stay still and accept the darkness. It will help you to identify and deal with any breaches. This is when your shutters will be particularly useful, they block the intense heat and protect the windows from being broken. Providing your home is built to withstand the heat of a bushfire it should remain intact while you wait for the fire to pass over you and your property.
After The Fire
The risk doesn’t die as soon as the fire has passed. In many cases, the heat will remain for days and the smoke will take hours to lift. That means your home and yard will still be at risk of ember damage. You will need to keep patrolling the outside of your home, eliminating small fires as they start.
Make sure you carefully check everywhere for embers as they may be out of sight and present a real risk to your home.
Remember, bushfires can kill. Make your decision as to whether to leave or not before the fire arrives and make sure your neighbors know about the impending fire. This can help to save lives as well as leaving your survival property in one piece. You never know when you may need it!