As Australians, we’re far too familiar with the impact bushfires can have on our beautiful country and communities.

Being prepared for fire season is something you have to contend with, and you should make sure you’re as prepared as possible.

To help minimise the risk of bushfires near your property, we've curated step-by-step instructions for when the bushfire season finally arrives.

Bushfire Facts

When is bushfire season in Australia?

The fire danger seasons scale from least to most dangerous

Most Australians view summer as the height of bushfire season, but this window isn’t the only threat. It depends on when the region has experienced the least rain (as dry plants and grass help bushfires spread faster).

The Bureau of Meteorology has produced a graphic representation of when bushfires occur in each region of Australia. It’s based on their average temperatures and annual rainfall.

The regions in Northern Australia tend to be most at-risk during winter and spring, whereas states in Southern Australia are on alert during summer and autumn.

How do bushfires start?

Bushfires start from natural causes including lightning strikes to dry plants or trees or by people who, for example, don't extinguish their campfire properly [1]. Hot, dry and windy weather conditions also contribute to large fires. [2]

Bushfires can then spread along the ground in one of three ways: [3]

  • Direct flame contact - Flames touch unburned fuels and raise their temperature to start a fire. Wind can also blow the flames deeper into the fuel ahead on flat ground or up a hill.

  • Radiant heat - Radiant heat from the fire raises the fuel's temperature to start a fire (often before flames reach it).

  • Burning embers - When embers land on fine fuels, they can start small fires. These embers can smoulder, grow and spread with the help of the wind direction spreading fire embers several hundred metres ahead.

How to Prevent Bushfires

Fire Danger Ratings

The Australian Fire Danger Rating levels

Australia's Fire Danger Rating System predicts and describes the potential level of danger if a bushfire starts.

The four fire danger rating levels are:

  • Moderate (green) - Plan and prepare

  • High (yellow) - Prepare to act

  • Extreme (orange) - Take action now to protect your life and property

  • Catastrophic (red) - For your survival, leave areas at risk of bushfires

Australia is prone to unpredictable bushfire activity and with the Australian Fire Danger Rating levels, you can take action and protect yourself from risks depending on the level of bushfire danger.

Before Bushfire Season

You should start preparing your property right at the start of the fire season and keep things well-maintained. There are four key areas to cover: your home's structure, access points, the surrounding garden or backyard, and your personal belongings.

Home Structure

  • Clear leaves, twigs, bark and other debris from the roof and gutters.

  • Purchase and test the effectiveness of gutter plugs.

  • Enclose open areas under decks and floors.

  • Install fine steel wire mesh screens on all windows, doors, vents and weep holes.

  • Install metal gutter guards.

  • Point LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) cylinder relief valves — a fuel commonly used in most Australian BBQs — away from the house.

  • Conduct maintenance checks on pumps, generators and water systems. 

  • Seal all gaps in the external roof and wall cladding.

Access Points

  • Display a prominent house or lot number in case of an emergency.

  • Provide access to fire trucks around your property (at least four metres high and four metres wide).

Garden and Backyard

  • Reduce vegetation loads along the access path.

  • Mow your grass regularly.

  • Remove excess ground fuels and combustible material (long dry grass, dead leaves and branches).

  • Trim low-lying branches two metres from the ground surrounding your home.

Personal Belongings

  • Check you have enough protective clothing and equipment such as a waterproof torch.

  • Relocate flammable items away from your home, including woodpiles, paper, boxes, crates, hanging baskets and garden furniture.

  • Check your first-aid kit is fully stocked.

  • Make sure you have appropriate insurance for your home and vehicles. 

  • Have a bushfire emergency plan.

Emergency Services

If you receive a bushfire warning in local government areas nearby, it's time to fall back on your pre-prepared bushfire emergency plan.

Australian Fire Emergency Services

If you’re in a metropolitan area then you can call one of the following fire services:

Rural Fire Service

If you're in a rural area then you can call one of the following rural fire services:

Designated Safer Areas

A decision you can make ahead of time is where you will relocate.

Most regions in Australia have designated safe areas including:

Ensure Your Home Insurance is Up to Date

Don't wait until after something goes wrong to find out what your insurance covers. If your area is threatened by natural disasters such as bushfires, make sure you have a home and contents insurance policy to cover you.

Budget Direct offers Bushfire Insurance as part of our Home and Contents cover. This means you can be covered for debris removal, repairs and/or replacement of your home and belongings, and provide temporary accommodation when it's needed, due to high-risk bushfire activity.

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