How To Prepare For The Fire Season, Now Summer Is Almost Here

Yes, there's preparation to be had (even for city folk).

05/10/2016 7:15 PM AEDT | Updated 29/10/2016 4:45 PM AEDT
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A fire plan is essential, even for your pets. Here pups are tendered to after fires swept South Australia in 2015.

We've got daylight savings back, the bathers have had their first dip in the ocean so it's fair to say summer is rolling back in.

But with the joys of post-work swims and barbecues returning to our lives, comes the annual risk of bushfires.

Ben Shepherd from the NSW Rural Fire Service told The Huffington Post Australia people need to be prepared in order to stay safe over summer.

And this includes city folk.

"What is amazing is people still today are surprised when fires occur on the landscape," Shepherd told HuffPost Australia.

"We live in some of the most bushfire-prone land in the world. What we need to recognise, as well as on those bad days, is you need to take responsibility for yourself. Preparation is key because we can't guarantee a firetruck for every home."

So here are the chores and conversations needing to be ticked off the list to be adequately prepared for the fire season.

AFP/Getty Images
A Country Fire Service volunteer revels in the rain after bushfires in the Adelaide Hills in January, 2015.

Have A Plan

Shepherd said bushfire survival plans are "crucially important" for Australians living in bushfire prone areas.

The plan helps Aussie families outline whether they will stay and defend the home, whether members will separate, and if so, where they will meet and where they will flee to.

"It also gives you that fall back plan," Shepherd said.

"If you weren't able to actually leave, what are you going to do then? Are you going to go to the neighbours' property? Are you going to stay and defend?"

Fires happen in Australia each and every year and we all have a responsibility to know what it is that we would do if threatened by a fire.Ben Shepherd

Survival plans can be found on state fire agency websites while the NSW Rural Fire service has a MyFirePlan app.

The plans also provides a guide for the preparation and maintenance required around the property (which we'll get to later) and the fire alert levels for Aussies to brush up on.

Newspix via Getty Images
Aussies look on as a fire breaks out in 2013 at Sydney's Palm Beach.

City Folk, Know Your Holiday Destination

If you're not living in a bushfire prone area and you're now thinking the rules don't apply to you, keep reading.

Many Aussies leave the city for holidays down the coast, where bushfires can commonly occur, so it's important to have knowledge of the area and a plan with fellow holidaymakers.

"People take the time to plan holidays and plan their Christmas break, but they won't do something that potentially may save their lives. So we want to actually ensure they've had that conversation well before they start to see an increase of fire dangers and an increase in fire activity," Shepherd said.

Embers can travel huge distances -- kilometres in fact -- so you don't necessarily have to be in the bush to be under threat.Ben Shepherd

"Embers travel large distances so you don't have to go far just out of Sydney to be affected by fires.

"In 1994 where the Lane Cove National Park, which is really only about sixteen kilometres from the Sydney CBD, was affected by fires."

Tim Wimborne / Reuters
Water is dumped over Sydney's Lane Cove National Park in December, 2012.

Prepare Your Home

There's an abundance of simple maintenance steps you can take around the home to reduce the risk of fires starting, or growing, such as cleaning leaves and twigs out of gutters and keeping lawns short.

"What is common amongst residential areas is those that live a street or two back from the bush, they're surprised when homes are lost streets back," Shepherd said.

"That's because during fire events over 90 percent of homes are lost during ember attacks -- little bits or burning material floating in the wind and landing in gutters.

"Embers can travel huge distances -- kilometres in fact -- so you don't necessarily have to be in the bush to be under threat."

To handle any potential blaze, ensure your home has a hose long enough to reach all the way around the house. It's also a good time to ensure your home has adequate home and contents insurance.

"Fires happen in Australia each and every year and we all have a responsibility to know what it is that we would do if threatened by a fire," Shepherd said.

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