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Fire Safety - Be Prepared Early this year

Normally in November and December, we remind our clients to take special care to protect their assets over the holidays.

However, given the alarming predictions from multiple government departments and Community organisations – this year we are encouraging you to be prepared as early as possible.

We are seeing across the globe an increased severity in both bushfires and storms – who would have thought a passenger heading to Ireland might be caught in a hurricane, or a dust storm would settle over London?

Closer to home, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre’s (CRC) says the coming season has a predicted elevated fire risk for the bulk of eastern and South Australian Coasts. This is a result of Australian’s warmest winter on record combined with the ninth driest winter on record.

A map released by the CRC shows the most populated areas of Southern and Eastern Australia that are at higher risk.

CRC Bushfire high risk areas

While there is a heightened risk of bushfires, the frequency and increased intensity of storm cells across the country can’t be ignored either.

There are many government agencies providing excellent advice on how to plan ahead to mitigate damage to your property, whether it be your personal property or your business.

The SES has two very useful websites, www.stormsafe.com.au and www.floodsafe.com.au.

Some of the pointers from the Stormsafe site include:-

• Maintain your yard and balcony. Secure or store items that could blow around in strong winds

• Clean your gutters, downpipes and drains regularly to prevent blockages **

• Trim trees and branches that could potentially fall on your home or property **

• Fix any damage to your roof, including broken or missing tiles **

• Check your insurance policy is current and adequate

• Make a plan for your family that outlines what you would do in an emergency

• Prepare an emergency kit with essential items in case you lose power or need to leave home in an emergency

• Listen to your local radio station and other media for weather warnings

** anything to do with heights, roofs, and trees can be dangerous, so it may be prudent to enlist the assistance of a qualified trades person.

Your Business

The SES also provides useful information that should be incorporated into your Disaster Recovery Plan. The points they suggest you should include for your business continuity include:

  • Knowledge of the geographical location of where your business is situated (if you have multiple locations you should adapt your plan to suit each location)

  • Who works in your business and who you are responsible for outside of your business

  • Contact numbers of suppliers, associates, employees and emergency services

  • Contact numbers of service providers (eg electricity, gas, water etc.)

  • Your email address contacts

  • A waterproof document holder

  • A copy of your insurance – building, content and business


Whilst this all sounds like common sense, do you have this ready?


Driving in Dangerous Conditions

This is a very serious reminder to protect you and your loved ones.

DO NOT drive through floodwater or around bushfires. If you have no alternative, these tips provided by the state governments may help keep you safe:

Flooding:

Flooding can occur almost anywhere and can occur over a period of days or a “flash flood” can be upon you in minutes. Flood waters can move fast so to stay safe while driving in flooded areas:

  • Obey road closure signs
  • Even if water appears to go down, don’t drive over roads until the road is open again as damage to the road could be hidden
  • Drive carefully on roads that have been reopened because they may still be drying out
  • Look out for landsides as many roadsides will have exposed layers and soil that could slip.

Bushfires:

  • Avoid driving in areas where bushfires are burning – this should only be a last resort
  • Listen to local radio for updates
  • Always follow instructions of policy and fire fighters if roads are closed.

If you are caught in the path of a bushfire:

  • Make a u-turn and drive to safety
  • Call the fire brigade on Triple Zero (000) to tell them where you are
  • Turn on your headlights so you can see through thick smoke 
  • make sure you keep the engine running so the battery doesn’t go flat
  • Close all vents and windows

While many Australians in bushfire areas and Cyclone areas are familiar with this information, as the traditional areas at risk expand, it is important that we all are prepared.

As always make sure you have adequate insurance – for your business, your home, your cars and yourself!

If you believe that this issue is relevant to your business, please feel free to contact Rebecca Fleming, Account Manager of our Travel Industry Division at Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers on (02) 8267 9919 or rfleming@gowates.com.au to discuss your circumstances or to obtain a quotation.

Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers advises that persons should not act on the material contained in this article as the items are of a general nature only and may be misinterpreted. We therefore recommend that advice be sought before acting in these areas.