Home owners and Housesitters - Are you bushfire ready?

Making precautions all the more important are predicted El Nino weather patterns that may lead to more hazardous, dryer-than-usual conditions this summer.  As both a housesitter and a home owner, it's important that you know how to be safe during this bushfire season.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that bushfire season in many areas of Australia brings with it the possibility of extreme danger and the potential loss or damage of property,” says Rob Mellor, Briggs & Stratton C ategory Manager. “The good news is that the inherent risks can be greatly reduced by adopting a series of simple yet highly effective precautions.

“The more you prepare your home, the more likely it is to survive a bushfire. Taking the right steps can also make it easier for you or firefighters to defend, and also ensures that it’s less likely to put other nearby homes at risk. Perhaps most importantly, a well-prepared home will also give you more fire protection in the event you’re suddenly unable to leave.”

There are five key steps to bushfire damage prevention, any plan should initially revolve around the removal of flammable material around your house.

1. Keep your gutters clean. Clearing your gutters of flammables like seedpods, twigs, small branches and dried leaves greatly reduces the possibility that wind-borne burning embers will trigger a house fire. Installing metal gutter guards is also a great way t o keep potentially hazardous debris out. “Using a leaf blower for this task is a great way to clean leaves and debris from gutters easily and effectively,” says Rob. “Removing this material also protects against it rotting and causing water damage to the roof sheathing and rafters, which can be expensive to fix.”

2. Reduce levels of available fuel. Pay particular attention to removing any dead tree branches overhanging your house. “This is where having a chainsaw comes in handy, to be able to efficiently cut back branches that are close to your home,” says Rob. “It’s more effective and a lot quicker than using a handsaw.” Removing excess shrubbery around your house is also imperative, as is keeping your lawns short and gardens well maintained. And don’t forget to clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around your yard or property.

3. Landscape for safety. Garden design can have a major impa ct on fire hazard reduction in high-risk areas by reducing the effects of direct flame and radiant heat. Start by choosing plants with low flammability, and establish them in separated zones to help create defendable spaces. Also make sure that the area around your house has plenty of clearance from plants which may act as a fire fuel.

4. Have the right equipment on stand-by. Having access to a petrol-powered generator can be critical in the event of a fire-related power outage, providing the ability to keep important household appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and lights running. A water pump can also be invaluable when it comes to tasks like wetting down your house or fighting flames. Just make sure you also have hoses long enough to reach around your house.

5. Home improvements. Simple additions can have major benefits. Repairing damaged or missing roof tiles, installing fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors, fitting seals around d oors and windows to eliminate gaps, and enclosing any open areas under your house are just some of the steps that will make a home more resistant to bushfire threat.

When it comes to enacting a bushfire preparation strategy to make sure you and your home are prepared in the event of a bushfire, having the right equipment is imperative. Whether it’s outdoor power equipment – such as lawnmowers, chainsaws and trimmers – to help prepare your home and property in the event of a fire; or vital pieces of equipment should you be impacted by fire (i.e. portable and standby generators and water pumps), the Victa and Briggs & Stratton brands provide a range of equipment that are perfectly suited to the tasks.

For further information about Briggs & Stratton and Victa products visit www.briggsandstratton.com.au and www.victa.com.au.

Sources: NSW Rural Fire Service; Country Fire Authority; QLD Government