Preparing for Bushfire
It’s almost summer again (where did 2020 go?) and while the thought of the warmer weather - beach-days and ice-cream melting before you can finish it - is getting many of us excited, it’s easy to forget that summer in Australia means guaranteed severe weather events, and bushfires are a very real and formidable threat to lives and property.
In the fog and upheaval of Covid-19, some of us might even be forgiven for forgetting for a moment that it was less than a year ago when large parts of Australia burned ferociously for weeks on end. With millions of hectares of land burnt to a black crisp, thousands of homes, livelihoods and properties lost, billions of native animals killed and, most horribly, the deaths of at least 34 people.
The worst part is fire events like last summer's inferno’s are becoming increasingly more common (to the extent that they are almost guaranteed) and more intense with every season.
Preparing for Bushfire Season
No-one wants to think their home or business could be at risk and in the path of a bushfire, but the reality is that for large sections of our country, especially in the eastern and southern parts of Australia, there is a very real possibility that you could come under threat.
There are many ways to prepare, and now is the time to start;
Start Your Bushfire Plan
Don’t leave it till it’s too late, start taking steps now to create your personal or business bushfire plan. Your plan should include things like;
- Identifying safe exit routes out of your property and local area and alternative routes if these are inaccessible.
- Deciding whether or not you will stay and defend, or leave on high risk days
- Digital or paper copies of important documents and personal and sentimental items in an accessible and portable safe or container
- Plans for moving or protecting pets or livestock
- How and where to get emergency updates and information
- Emergency contacts and who to keep informed of your movements and safety, and;
- What you will do and where you will shelter if you can’t leave the area
There are lots of things to consider for both your personal and business Bushfire Plans, and the CFA in Victoria has lots of important and useful information available to assist you in preparing one. You can find a personal Fire Ready Kit here and a business Fire Ready Kit here also.
Learn and Practice your Bushfire Plan
Don’t just make your plan and then file it in the “I don’t want to think about that till it happens” folder. Remember to;
Communicate with your employees, talk to your family members and go through the plan together. Make sure everyone is aware of the steps in each situation, knows where to go and who to contact, and can easily access more information if they require it.
Practice your survival plan for sheltering if you can’t safely leave. Make sure you and your family or employees know exactly where you will bunker down and make sure you have supplies if needed. Don’t forget to revisit the plan regularly.
Prepare your property, by cleaning and clearing gutters, installing and maintaining fire breaks on larger properties, make sure there is no rubbish or flammable materials lying around on the property, and make sure any fire suppression or fighting equipment or systems are maintained and in good working order.
Review Your Insurances
Don’t leave it till a fire is on your doorstep to check that your car is covered, your home sums insured are high enough, or that you even have a policy in place.
Too often we hear terrible stories of people who have lost their homes and businesses in bushfires only to be underinsured and out of pocket when it comes to rebuilding and getting back on their feet. Your insurance policy is there to put you back to the position you were in before the loss occurred - don’t short-change yourself. There are plenty of coverage and pricing options out there for all levels of cover that can provide you with the means to recover and move on without the stress of how or how much.
If you’re currently uninsured, please talk to a broker about your risks - insurance doesn’t have to be an expensive outlay to provide basic levels of protection for your assets. It’s not worth the heartbreak of starting again with nothing and no help.
Stay Vigilant & Look Out For Others
The most important thing is to stay aware, keep in touch with the authorities and reputable emergency news services, and to check-in with others who may not be aware or able to prepare or protect themselves.
Australia really is a wonderful country, and we’re all used to these worsening weather events and catastrophe’s landing on our very doorsteps each year. Let’s not get complacent, or think it won’t happen to me.
Let’s be prepared as best we can, so that the recovery of our homes, businesses and communities can be swift and as stress-free as possible.
This article originally appeared on MeyerInsure - Blog and has been published here with permission.