Living in Australia, we’re all too familiar with the term bushfire, but working out how to protect ourselves isn’t an easy task, and with climate change being such a hot topic right now, what are the risks and how can we keep ourselves, our animals, and our property safe?
While bushfires can happen at any time, they are most likely to occur during the summer and autumn months, and the increasing trend seems to suggest that perfect bushfire weather conditions are expected to increase in severity for many regions of Australia as well as an earlier start to the bushfire season being partly attributed to human-caused climate change.
Early bushfire preparation could save your life
Early detection and preparation is essential when it comes to fighting a bushfire as the sooner it is dealt with, the better the outcome, and while some areas have early bushfire surveillance systems in place, public bushfire prevention programs must be in place as fires generally are reported by the public in the first instance. While on an individual or local level, there are steps that can be done to minimise the risks for building to have any chance of survival and a bushfire survival plan is the best way to stay informed and prepared should a fire break out.
Keeping areas clear of combustible material is one of the easier ways of helping prevent the spread of bushfires, as well as keeping buildings clear of excessive vegetation and not storing items under buildings. Making sure fencing is in good condition and made from good quality non-combustible material will make the spread of fire as hard as possible to transfer from building to building. Other risk prevention measures include cleaning out gutters and roof fittings, not storing recyclable materials close to the house, owning a hose that will reach the perimeter of your home and working with your neighbours to develop an evacuation plan.
Hot, dry, windy days are the most critical trigger to warn you of potential danger, even before a fire starts. Keeping an eye on the Fire Danger Rating is a great way to help identify how dangerous a bushfire could be, should one occur. The Bureau of Meteorology issues the Fire Danger Rating daily, and it’s one of the best ways to know if you’ll need to activate your survival plan.
Rebuilding after a bushfire
Being prepared for a bushfire will help save lives, save buildings, and help keep destruction to a minimum. Ensuring that you have enough insurance to cover any damages or losses from a bushfire can also form part of your survival plan – knowing that you can rebuild will be a huge weight lifted should anything happen to your property.
One in six households in Australia still uninsured, and many more are under-insured. If you have insurance but can’t remember who with, the Insurance Council of Australia 1300 728 228 will be able to tell you whom you have a policy with. Insurance can cover you for everything from home buildings to business interruption, but making sure you have appropriate coverage can be a challenge, especially if your property has changed in value or there are unlisted contents. Speaking to your insurance broker can be the easiest way to update your policy and make sure that you have enough protection.
Bushfire case study: They lost everything
With the recent catastrophic fires in NSW and QLD, one of the biggest concerns is for those that are underinsured or uninsured. One man, a resident of Bobin, NSW, lost his house, sheds, stables, tractors, quads, 200 year old family antiques, photos, everything. He was uninsured after a price rise in his policies (due to being in a fire prone area). His family is now left to the generosity of others after the community set up a fundraising page. It’s a sad example where people feel they can’t afford their insurance solution, but the reality is that they can’t afford to be without it. There are options available, such as premium funding or monthly payments, that can help to make your insurance more affordable while keeping you properly covered.
With policies often not reflecting a renovation or rebuild more and more people are finding themselves under-insured and then panicking to call their broker to seek further cover or increase the value of the home with many failing to get the new policy issued in time, it’s worth making sure you’re covered well before an issue arises.