How can I prepare my home for a bushfire?

If you live in a bushfire prone area, you’re probably already aware of your risks during the bushfire danger period that runs from September to March in Australia.1

But even if you're in a lower-risk area, knowing how to prepare can help protect your home against a potential fire.

General tips for bushfire preparation

Check the bushfire building codes

If you’re building or renovating a home in a bushfire prone area, you’ll need to consult the Australian Standard. It covers all the building design and safety requirements for different types of areas.

All new homes built in bushfire-prone areas must be able to withstand ember attacks, which occur when burning debris lands on or near your house causing it to catch fire.

If you’re unsure where to start, check with your builder. They’ll have access to this document and will most likely be aware of what’s required.

Know your bushfire attack level (BAL)

Your BAL is your property's rating for bushfire risk. Consider getting a professional to determine your BAL so you can take effective precautions when constructing or renovating your home.

There are six levels that range from BAL Low to BAL Flame Zone and is determined by a range of factors, including:

  • where you live
  • the types of plants around your property
  • the distance between your home and nearby fuel sources, like structures or plants, and
  • the slope of your property, as fire travels faster uphill.

Once you know your property’s BAL, you can find the section of the Australian Standard that most applies to you to guide you in constructing or retrofitting your home.

Update your home insurance

To ensure adequate coverage for your home, it's important to regularly review and adjust your policy's sum insured. This is the maximum amount your insurer will pay for the repairs or a complete rebuild of your home after an insured event. But due to changes in building standards and rising home rebuild costs, the value to repair or rebuild can sometimes be greater than the original estimate.

With GIO, we include Safety Net Home Protection cover on our Classic Extras and Platinum covers, which provides a financial buffer if the cost of repairing or rebuilding exceeds the amount your home is insured for. We will pay up to a further 25% of the home sum insured on Classic Extras policies and up to a further 30% on Platinum policies.

Exclusions and limits apply, so please see the PDS for more details.

Get a GIO Home & Contents Insurance Quote

Prevention tips for your home before a bushfire

Consider sealing up gaps

Houses don’t always burn down due to flames reaching the building. Instead, they often burn from the inside out. This is because of embers that find their way into small gaps and cause flammable materials to catch alight.

Keep an eye out for any gaps larger than 2mm and think about covering these spaces with materials like concrete, terracotta tiles or steel mesh.

Keep your outdoor area tidy

Carefully examine your gardens and outdoor areas for potential pathways for fire. Outdoor furniture and foliage may lead flames straight to your front door.

To reduce your risk, consider:

  • cleaning your gutters and removing debris
  • raking up and disposing of loose leaves
  • trimming back overgrown vegetation and hanging branches, and
  • keeping your lawn short.

Prepare an emergency bushfire kit and evacuation plan

In case you need to leave your home at a moment’s notice, make a plan with your family about where you’ll go and which route you’ll take – depending on bushfire direction and road closures.

The NSW Rural Fire Service also has a handy emergency bushfire checklist to help you prepare and tips to consider when making the decision to evacuate or defend your property.

During a bushfire

Keep up to date on the status of any fires in your area to ensure you know when to take action. In NSW the ‘Hazards Near Me’ app allows you to set a watch zone and receive notifications on the status of any fire within that area.

When there’s warning of a bushfire approaching, it is recommended to leave as early as possible.

If you do decide to stay, each state and territory government has recommendations and tips on their respective websites:

After a bushfire

Once you and your loved ones are confirmed safe, wait for the authorities to give the all-clear to return to your home.

You can then check your home for damage. If you’ve taken out a GIO Home and Contents Insurance policy and need to make a claim, you can easily claim online or through the GIO App.

Make a claim

Read more:

1 NSW Rural Fire Service

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This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.