How to prepare your home for bushfire season

Last updated on Feb 04, 2022 

Bushfires are a natural part of the Australian environment and occur regularly, but many Australians fail to prepare for them.

While there are elements of a bushfire that you can't control – like the weather – planning and preparing your home for a bushfire can dramatically increase the chances of your family and your home surviving.

If you live in a bushfire prone area, it is important to reduce the risk to your family and your home, and take action to survive a bushfire.

burnt bushland

A well-prepared home is more likely to survive a bushfire. There are some simple steps that you can take to prepare your family and your home for a bushfire:

  • Have a discussion with your family members to decide what you’ll do if there’s a bushfire.
  • Make sure that ALL your family members know your bushfire plan and know where the community evacuation area is.
  • If there is a Community Fire Unit nearby, consider becoming a member.
  • Clean leaves from gutters, roofs and downpipes regularly, and fit quality metal leaf guards.
  • Mow your grass regularly, both in the front and back yards.
  • Keep your backyard tidy, free from any build-up of flammable material.
  • Relocate any flammable items away from your home including woodpiles, paper, boxes, crates, hanging baskets and garden furniture.
  • Remove excess ground fuels and other combustible material.
  • Do not deposit tree loppings, grass clippings and other materials that could aid a fire on your property, or on council reserves or bushland.
  • Ensure your garden hoses are long enough to reach the perimeter boundary of your property.
  • Trim low-lying branches two metres from the ground surrounding your home.
  • Install fine steel wire mesh screens on all windows, doors, vents and weep holes.
  • Fit metal NOT plastic fly screens on windows and doors.
  • Enclose open areas under your decks and floors.
  • Seal all gaps in external roof and wall cladding.
  • When installing LPG cylinders around your home, make sure that pressure relief valves face outwards so that flame is not directed towards the house.
  • Plant trees and shrubs that are less likely to ignite due to their lower oil content.
  • If you have a swimming pool, have a Static Water Supply sign placed on your front fence. Contact your local fire station for more information.
  • Consider purchasing a portable pump to use from your swimming pool or water tank.
  • On Total Fire Ban days obey regulations regarding barbecues and open fires.
  • Make sure that if there is a fire hydrant outside your home it is easily located and not obstructed.

 Download the NSW Rural Fire Service checklist (PDF, 596KB) and have a Fire plan in place.

man watching thick bushfire smoke in the distance

Preparation is not just about cleaning up around the house and having a plan. It is also about making sure you consider your physical, mental and emotional preparedness.

A bushfire can be a terrifying situation. Strong gusty winds, along with intense heat and flames can tire you out quickly. Thick, heavy smoke will make it difficult to see and breathe. The sound of an intense fire approaching can be overwhelming. Power and water may be cut off. You may be isolated. It will be dark, noisy and physically and mentally demanding.

If you have any doubts about your ability to cope, you should plan to leave early. In the event of bushfire threatening your home, Fire and Rescue NSW recommends you take the following steps:

  • Stay calm.
  • Report all fires by ringing 000.
  • Don't enter the bush if there’s smoke or fire in the area.
  • Check if elderly neighbours need assistance.
  • Patrol the outside of your home, putting out any embers and spot fires that may start.
  • Close all windows, doors and shutters.
  • If possible, block your downpipes (a sock full of sand/soil will help) and fill roof gutters with water.
  • If possible, block gaps beneath doors with wet blankets or towels.
  • Collect water in buckets/bath.
  • Consider keeping valuable items and documents in a fire resistant safe or metal cabinet, or have them packed and ready to go.
  • Comply with police if ordered to evacuate.
  • Bring your garden hose inside so that it won't melt in the fire and can still be used.
  • Wet down timber decks and gardens close to the house if the fire is approaching.
  • Do not stand on your roof with your hose. In bushfires, often more people are injured by falling from roofs than suffering burns.
  • Keep ladders, shovels and metal buckets at hand to help put out spot fires.
  • Keep a torch and a portable battery-operated radio in the home in case electricity supply fails.
  • Drink plenty of water so you do not dehydrate.
  • Move any fire-fighting equipment to a place that it will not get burnt.

For more information, contact your local fire station or fire control centre, or visit the Fire and Rescue NSW website. In an emergency call 000.

To ensure that your most valuable asset is covered, get a Home Insurance quote today from Allianz. Please note that for Home and Contents Insurance policies, a 72-hour exclusion period may apply for cyclone, flood, bushfires and grassfires. For full details on what is and is not covered, check your Product Disclosure Statement, Policy Schedule, or Certificate of Insurance.

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). In some cases, information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way.

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