Ashley Kinsela, World Executives Digest | Living in the beautiful sunburnt land that is Australia comes with some drawbacks, with the primary one being the risk of bushfires. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to keep you and your family safe if living in a bushfire prone area.
- Conduct a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment: A BAL assessment will outline the risk your property faces, based on factors such as proximity to bush and roads, the slope of the property, and various other factors. This will help guide you in the construction method and materials that you should use if building a new property, or guide you on what to do to better protect your existing home.
- Homes specifically designed for bushfire prone areas: If you have the chance to design your own home, this is by far the best time to integrate materials and designs to bushfire proof your home. Some construction companies in Australia specialise in bushfire proof homes, using materials that are not flammable and expert techniques to provide peace of mind to customers. From fire-resistant decking board to fine steel wire mesh screens on your windows, a specialist construction company will be able to design and construct a home that provides protection from all angles. Another consideration that a construction company will be able to work into their design is not allowing for gaps greater than 2mm around the exterior of the house, as this can allow members to slip through. Finally, certain structural elements of your home may provide an exit route in case of an emergency, which a specialist construction company will be able to integrate into the design.
This proactive strategy, instead of retrofitting your home later on, is the smartest way you can protect you and your family in a bushfire prone areas home.
- Clear grass and leaves: Check your leaves, gutters, roof and downpipes regularly to prevent leaves from accumulating. Similarly, mow your grass regularly to remove potential fuel sources if a fire does occur.
- Remove flammable materials away from your home: This may include wood, paper, boxes, grass clippings, crates or certain items of garden furniture that could be on your property.
- Choose fire-resistant plants for your garden: If you’re a green thumb, you should carefully consider what you plant in your garden, and how your garden is laid out. Certain plants can offer some protection in the case of a bushfire, while others are less likely to ignite due to their lower oil content. The way that you design your garden can also help fire-proof your home, with paths disrupting the fuel continuity that a fire needs to flourish.
- Check your garden hose: Your garden hose should be able to reach around the perimeter of your property. You may even want to consider installing multiple garden hoses around the property, so that one is always within reach in the case of a bushfire. Similarly, check that there is an easily accessible fire hydrant outside your home.
- Think twice about your decking: Many Australians opt for timber decking, but be mindful of which timber you use. Fire-resistant decking materials are available, but to be especially sure, consider concrete decking. Also make sure that there are no open spaces under your decking where debris could potentially accumulate and pose a fire risk. By fully enclosing your deck, you ensure there’s no chance of embers lighting a fire under your house. If you rely on your deck to enter and exit your house, making it as fire-resistant as possible is essential.
- Consider building a bunker: If you are particularly concerned about bushfires in your area, consider building a bunker to act as a safe haven if a fire does occur. Regulations will differ from state to state, so make sure to thoroughly do your research, before enlisting the help of a reputable bunker building company. Because the bunker is specifically designed to resist bushfires, it’ll provide greater protection than your home, and could potentially be a life-saving investment in the future.
Those living in regional Australia or even the outer suburbs of large cities should take all the necessary precautions to fire-proof their homes. Pre-emptive measures are always best, meaning it’s smartest to turn to a specialist construction company that purpose build homes for bushfire prone areas.