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Staying safe this bushfire season: How to prepare your home and family for summer

Just like that, it’s summer again. Before your days are occupied by school holidays, New Year’s Eve plans and days at the beach, it’s important to conduct some general home and garage maintenance to help ensure the safety of you and your family this bushfire season.

Although Australia is not expecting a fire season like the summer of 2019-2020, there is an above-average risk of grass fires mainly in parts of Queensland and New South Wales.

So, now is the right time for you to fire-proof your home, prepare an evacuation plan, and practise it. Read on to follow Chamberlain’s guide on how to secure your home and prepare your family for summer.

Get out in the garden

According to YourHome, preparing your home against fires begins with the upkeep and maintenance of your garden and exteriors.

By following these Australian top tips from the South Australian Country Fire Service, you can best protect your family, home and belongings.

  1. Create a defensible space by reducing vegetation for 20 metres. This includes:
  • Cutting grass to below 10 centimetres.
  • Pruning down shrubs away from the home and tree branches.
  • Clearing up and disposing of all dead leaves, twigs, branches and bark.
  1. Cut back all tree branches that are over two meters high or overhanging your home.
  2. Remove all flammable materials close to your home and sheds including bark, heavy mulch, and woodpiles.
  3. Clear out and dispose of all leaves, bark, twigs and debris in your gutters that might fuel the fire.

Start securing your home

When conducting maintenance on your home, the main goal is to ensure no embers, sparks or burning materials can enter through any openings such as windows, doors, floorboards and roofing.

So, how can you stop burning materials from entering your home?

While each state’s fire plan slightly varies, the key recommendations that are unanimous across all states are:

  • Fit fine mesh screens to the windows, doors, ventilators and skylights.
  • Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof.
  • Close in all openings in eaves and under-floor areas.
  • Seal all gaps in the roof and external walls.

If you are in a high-risk bushfire area, you might also consider fitting tiled roofs with fire-rated insulation or attach a fire sprinkler system to your gutters.

Have a chat, and make a plan

The safety of yourself and family should always be the number one priority. Being prepared with a family emergency survival plan that is practised and understood throughout the household will allow you to stay calm if you need to leave quickly.

Any fire evacuation plan starts with a discussion around what the family will do if a fire is threatening your home. This discussion should be conducted before the fire season so that your home and family are prepared to safely evacuate.

To help instigate these discussions and start your plan, visit your state’s Fire Service website.

Check your garage door opener

It is important that your household knows how to evacuate through the garage in the event of blackout, which may occur during bushfire season.

This requires you and your family to familiarise themselves with the garage door opener’s manual release cord, which will allow the door to be opened manually should the power go out.

To operate Chamberlain’s manual release cord, follow and practise these steps:

  1. Pull the red cord down firmly once to manually release the door’s locking mechanism. The opener will make a clicking noise.
  2. Walk over to the door to push it up manually. Do not try to pull the door using the manual release cord; it will snap under the load.
  3. Take care when operating the manual release when the door is open, as it may fall rapidly due to weak or broken springs.
  4. When power returns or it is safe to do so, re-engage the opener by pulling the red release cord down firmly.

While practising how to release the door manually, ensure that the cord is in good working order. The cord should not be frayed and must still have the plastic handle at the end of the cord.

During these checks, if you find that your manual release cord is not in this condition, we recommend replacing it immediately.

Make a plan, practise it, and be prepared, so if an emergency arises you and your family can evacuate safely.

This is your reminder to get your home and garage ready so you can enjoy this summer with peace of mind.

For more information about Chamberlain’s range of garage door openers and accessories, visit our website or call 1800 665 438.