News & Property Markets

How To Protect Your Home Against Floods and Bush Fires

This original post was prior to the unprecedented fires that impacted many within the states of NSW and VIC.

As we now know how close the threat is to home, I am updating it with the information that was discussed at the community meeting with Austinmer Rural Fire Service. Please follow them on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Illawarra Bushfire Preparation

Below are some Links and FAQs from the community meeting.

  • Create your bushfire survival plan TODAY: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and…/bush-fire-survival-plan
  • If you have any animals, large or small: www.getreadyanimals.nsw.gov.au
  • Set your watch zone on the Fires Near Me App:
  • Yellow diamonds – watch and act level: there is a heightened level of threat, conditions are changing and you should start taking action.
  • Red diamonds – emergency warning level: the highest level, you may be in danger and should take action immediately.
  • Stay up to date with the traffic in your area, especially road closures: https://www.livetraffic.com/desktop.html
  • Keep an eye on the weather, particularly wind direction: http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/forecasts/wollongong.shtml
  • If you see a fire and need to give critical location details to 000, download this app: https://emergencyapp.triplezero.gov.au/
  • Listen to ABC Illawarra for all the latest updates and keep an eye on the https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/ website and Facebook page.
  • What do I do with my gas bottles: https://www.elgas.com.au/…/575-bushfires-bbq-gas-bottles-9k…
  • Austinmer RFS will endeavor to keep you up to date on our Facebook page and answer any questions you may have via messenger however if there is a fire in the Illawarra they will be busy.
  • Neighbourhood Safer Places – the closest one for Austinmer is Austinmer Boat Ramp (near Headlands Hotel), however, this is a place of last resort and should not be your bushfire survival plan. If you have to attend make sure you have water and food with you and maybe a towel or T-shirt which you can wet down and tie around your face to help you breathe, as there will be nothing at this location. https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/…/neighbourhood-s…/wollongong-lga
  • Static Water Supply – if you have an SWS (pool, spa, water tank etc) and you do not have a sign out the front, please put up something to identify so that we know we have a water source readily available.
  • Properties using PVC piping to access water from the escarpment – if there is a fire event in the area any above-ground water piping is at high risk of being burnt and no longer usable.
  • When should I call 000? – if you see a fire without a truck in attendance call 000, if you see a column of smoke call 000. If you have any concerns at all or are not sure, you are better to call 000. We would rather go to 10 false alarms rather than have a fire escalate before we have a chance to get to it.

You can call the Bushfire Information Line on 1800 679 737 for the latest on the fires and advice protecting your property.

If you would like to make a donation to #teamausti click on the link and search for Austinmer Brigade https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volun…/support-your-local-bridage

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Original Post

Your home is likely to be the most expensive thing you own (or partly own) and definitely something you want to protect from damage. Many things can cause damage to your home, like pets, pests, children, and accidents – but the main threats and with the highest potential to cause the most severe damage are floods and bush fires. Unfortunately for many Australians, extreme weather is causing a higher threat of bush fires and flooding. The threat is currently very real for residents in NSW and QLD so as many prepare for the worst I hope this helps as a reminder to make sure you and your home are prepared in the event of extreme flooding and bush fires.

Lake Tabourie: Footage taken by Jack Edwards (Lake Tabourie Resident)

Below is a range of information and links for you to ensure you and your home are prepared for a flood or bush fire.

Protect your home against bush fires

A well-prepared house is more likely to survive a bush fire. Firstly, please check the RFS website to determine where your home is in comparison to the current burning fires. This will ensure that you are aware of the potential threats, and remember that winds and heat can quickly change the direction and ferocity of a fire so it is not just the closest fire that will potentially reach your home, be aware of all fires in your surrounding suburbs.

Preparing your house for a bush fire

The NSW Rural Fire Service website has some great fact sheets you can download but here is a list of things around the home that you can do to help make your home more likely to survive a fire or ember attack.

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  1. Clean your gutters: Remove all leaves and twigs that have been building up over the year.
  2. Use metal gutter guards: By adding a guard, you will make it easier to keep your gutters clean.
  3. Repair your roof: Fix any missing or damaged tiles on your roof.
  4. Install fine metal mesh screens on your windows and doors.
  5. Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps.
  6. Enclose the areas under the house.
  7. Repair or cover gaps in external walls.
  8. Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters.
  9. Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained.
  10. Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings.
  11. Clean up fallen leaves, twigs, and debris around the property.
  12. Have hoses long enough to reach around your house.
  13. If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water.
  14. Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up to date.

These tips are also available in our Bush Fire and Your Home fact sheet.

You can assess your risk using the bush fire household assessment tool.

Check if you live on Bush Fire Prone Land.

Preparing you and your family for a bush fire

Even more important than your home, is you and your family. Make sure you consider your physical, mental and emotional preparedness. Bush fires are the polar opposite to the comforting crackle of a winter campfire. They are terrifying, even more so as they edge closer and closer to your home.

The fires heavy and thick smoke will sting your eyes and choke your lungs. Its loud roar will be frightening, and embers will spring out causing spot fires all around. Water and power could potentially be cut off. The noise and stress of the situation will be both mentally and physically draining and you may feel very isolated depending on whether you are on your own or with others, and their preparedness.

If you are unsure of your ability to cope, leave as early as possible – well before a fire reaches your area and you come under threat. If you are at higher risk, due to having children, are elderly, disabled or with medical problems make sure you definitely leave early.

Utilise the RFS website and the bush survival plan information to make sure that when you are at risk of a bush fire you can quickly make decisions in regards to when to leave, what to take and what to do with your animals and pets.

Protect home against floods

30% of natural disasters in Australia are floods, and the most common forms are from heavy rainfall and drainage overflow. Contact the Wollongong council for information on flood maps to determine whether you are living in a flood-prone area. Implement the following steps to help ensure that your home is protected against floods, and that you know how to react when you are subjected to flooding.

  • If you are in a high-risk location then consider raising the level of your floor to reduce the risk of water entering your home.
  • Check all windows and external doors close securely with no gaps, and in the event of flooding keep them all closed.
  • Ensure your sump pump is working (consider a back-up battery pump in case you lose power).
  • Potentially install a water alarm to alert you when your basement or lower levels are flooding.
  • Choose aluminum frames when installing new windows and doors as they are sturdier and won’t warp, shrink or expand like wood will.
  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean so they don’t overflow.
  • Know how to turn off mains power, water, gas, and solar power.
  • Have a household emergency evacuation plan and include a map of your property and mark out the location of your electrical switchboard, natural gas connection or tanks, water
  • supply, and solar inverter.
  • Create a flood file in a waterproof container that contains all your insurance documents, insurer contact details, household and property inventory that includes a list of all your   valuables.
  • Have sandbags on hand ready to help minimise the damage that floods can cause. They need to be two-thirds filled with sand (not soil!) and use plastic sheeting to add an extra layer of waterproofing.
  • Educate your family on what to do in the event of a flood, and talk to your neighbours to ensure they are also prepared and you can work together if required to sandbag, or to get to safety.

Molenaar x McNeice
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