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bushfire season....Prepare, Act, Survive

Gow-Gates article - AFTA@Work September newsletterGowgates logo

As the weather starts to warm up it is important to be aware that bushfire season has already started.

Prepare, Act, Survive is the slogan of the Rural Fire Service – and it is timely to remember that whether we live or work in a bushfire area, a cyclone area or a flood prone area, having a plan for what do to in the event of a threat is crucial.

Protecting your business, your home, your staff and your family during a crisis is sometimes taken out of your control, but by putting a plan in place you have a much better chance of dealing with the situation.
Unfortunately recent events such as deadly house fires and sudden violent storms have reminded us that these important planning protocols should not be only for those in remote or rural communities.

When looking at the suggestions for a Bushfire Survival Plan these can easily apply to other emergencies that could occur.

Below is an extract from the Rural Fire Service website in relation to preparation for Bushfires and it is not difficult to see how this important advice can apply in many different circumstances such as cyclones, storms and floods.

Do you live within a few streets of the bush?
You don't need to live right on the bush to be at risk from bush fires. Burning embers can travel some distance, setting fire to homes that are well away from the bush. In fact, the majority of homes destroyed in bush fires are because of what's called "ember attack".

Does your area have a history of bush fires?
Think about the area you live in. If fires have happened there before, they will almost certainly happen again. Know the fire risk in your area and prepare for it.

Do you have many trees or shrubs around your home?
It's a fact that a well prepared property is more likely to survive a bush fire. A well prepared property includes trees and shrubs that have been trimmed, and a cleared area where you and firefighters can protect your home if needed.

  • Maintain your yard and balcony, secure or store items that could blow around in strong winds.
  • Gutters, downpipes and drains regularly cleared (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).

If you need to leave your home, would you need to travel through bushland?

If you need to travel through bushland areas to leave your home, you're at risk of being caught in a fire. Being caught in the open or in a car are among the most dangerous places during a bush fire.

Also, in the case of storms, cyclones and floods, sometimes roads are cut and the advice is to stay put or to assemble in evacuation centres – always listen for updates on the radio or other media and follow the advice of emergency services.

Is your Bush Fire Survival Plan more than one year old?
Even if you've made a Plan before, check it and update it if needed. Sit down and talk about your plan with your family. That way, everyone will know what to do if a fire starts.

  • Does your business have a disaster recovery plan? When was it last reviewed?
  • Do you have a written protocol what to do in the event of any fire or forced evacuation?

The Rural Fire Service is encouraging those in bush fire areas to make or update their Bush Fire Survival Plan now. The same can be said for your Disaster Recovery Plan for your business. Your family should also have a plan of what to do in the event of a house fire or other natural disaster.

Start Planning

If you have to leave in a hurry:

  • Do you have all of your business or personal documents in a common place where they can be easily taken with you? (passports, birth certificates etc.)
  • Do you have a bag ready to take? (torch, batteries, bottled water, change of clothes)
  • Do you have contact numbers of all your staff?
  • Does everyone know the evacuation procedures for the premises?
  • Have you made a list of items that you would take and are they kept together?
  • Are all your business and personal computer records backed up and either kept off-site or in a portable hard-drive?


Some of the basic information that you need to start planning includes:-

  • Knowledge of the geographical location of where you live
  • The type of residence you live in 
  • Who lives with you 
  • Who else you care for outside of your household 
  • A list of all pets, companion animals and assistance animals living in your household 
  • A list of all animals you own not living in your household 
  • Contact numbers of family friends and emergency services (and your insurance broker!)
  • Who are your service providers and their contact number (electricity, gas and water) 
  • A willingness to put the plan into action and practice

Useful home emergency planning (which can also be used in your business) can be found on the websites below:-

www.stormsafe.com.au
www.floodsafe.com.au
www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

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.

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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.