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Preparing Your Home for Queensland Fire Summer Season

by Jacob Blanca

The Gold Coast’s winter is short and mild making it a great time to prepare your home for an expected scorching summer fire season this year.  Preparing your home with some simple annual maintenance can see you safely through this summer.

Home maintenance for better fire protection:

1. Trim trees, palms, climbers and shrubs

Basic common sense here, if trees and funa are over hanging or against your home the could present a fire danger.  Pay particular attention to over hanging limbs and over grown palms which add to the flammable material at your property.  The added bonus is it will help keep ants and termites away from your home as well.

 2. Keep your lawns short

Few of us like to mow the lawns in the weekend after a hard week at work. However, your lawn is likely the first and mostly place fire will spread between properties in residential area’s.  Long grass is just not the go and your lawn will be better for it.  A big plus is your property will be less inviting to rodents and then the likely slithering things that like to eat them.. meaning snakes.

Also, that mulch, either store it well away from the property, wooden fences, sheds and furniture.  Mulch can ignite on its own.

3. Keep your property free of clutter

We are all guilty for doing this. Something breaks or is out of favour with the wife and we hide it out back behind the shed.  It is far better to just take it straight to your local council tip.  The good news this is free for most things on the Gold Coast and we have a list of local tips below.

  • Currigee Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 6am to 6pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Currumbin Valley Waste and Recycling Centre
    Friday – Monday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Helensvale Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Jacobs Well Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Merrimac Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Molendinar Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 6.30am to 4.15pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Mudgeeraba Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Numinbah Valley Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Pimpama Green Organics Drop and Go
    Monday – Sunday 8am to 4.30pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Reedy Creek Recycle Market
    Wednesday – Sunday 8am to 4pm
    Closed on public holidays
  • Reedy Creek Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Reedy Creek Commercial Landfill
    Monday – Friday 7am to 4.45pm
    Saturday 7am to 12.45pm
    Closed on Sundays and public holidays
  • Southport Tip Shop
    Wednesday – Friday 8am to 4pm
    Closed on public holidays
  • Springbrook Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.50pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Stapylton Recycling Centre and Landfill
    Monday – Sunday 7am to 4.45pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day
  • Tipplers Waste and Recycling Centre
    Monday – Sunday 6am to 6pm
    Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day

4. Roof and gutter debris

Most fire departments recommend: recommends regular gutter cleaning or installation of non-combustible corrosion resistant metal gutter covers

A real danger area for any home is the roof and guttering which can act like an burning ember magnet. Your roof acts as a funnel for embers which can travel great distances. The embers then fall into the gutters, which can quickly turn into a life or death situation if the gutters are full with plant debris.

Gutters are like your first line of defense in a fire situations. So we recommend regularly checking and clearing out your gutters of bushfire fuel. While many a man will run to his ladder to do this job, we’d like to remind you men that falling from ladders is the most common house hold injury. So sometimes this dirty job should be left to professional gutter cleaners near you, there are many local and inexpensive ones who will come every year to sort this out for you.  Often they can reach up to five stores high without leaving the ground. So really ideal if you are part of a body corporate.

 

Also make sure the company you hire to clean your gutters deals with the down pipes as well.  There is little point in simply washing the debris out of gutters to lodge in drown pipes likely creating a water and mold problem as well as not removing the fuel for the fire.

 

Consider installing Gutter mesh, This won’t stop all the debris, but it will help keep them mostly clear and likely save you a little money or time when you clean your gutters out yearly. We’d recommend not using a foam insert type of gutter guard as they can still ignite.  Many California home owners were shocked to find their gutters on fire in recent large forest fires. So while no guards and debris is worse, metal guards are likely better.

5. Check you insurance

Sounds lame, but it pays to check your home and contents insurance is paid and valid.  Also, did you add those expensive new paintings, furniture or jewelry to your policy.  This is also a good time to price check your current provider and make sure you are still covered for the things you thought you were last time.  Every year or large claim event insurance underwriters can change policies, which may leave you under insured.

6. Check or make a survival family plan

Great if dad makes one, but even better if you take the time to explain it to the whole family including the kids, even if you think they are to young.  Often they still understand it and it could save their life one day.

Things you should include in your fire survival plan:

  • Whether you stay and fight or when and how you should evacuate
  • What will you take with you
  • Where you to go bags are
  • What will you do with pets
  • Do you have money/cash to pay for gas, food, hotel
  • Which vehicles you will take
  • Your exit route/s
  • Where you’ll met if your family gets separated

The Tasmanian Fire Service published this bush survival plan PDF and we think it’s well worth a read

Additional Services you might need

Department websites

QLD Fire and Rescue Service: https://www.fire.qld.gov.au/
NSW Fire and Rescue Service: http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/ 

Twitter pages

QLD – @QLDFire: https://twitter.com/QldFire
NSW – @FireRescueNSW: https://twitter.com/firerescuensw 

7. If you have a large amount of water on the property

Consider installing a Stable Water Supply (SWS) sign out your property it will help fire fighters locate valuable sources of water at critical times.

 

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