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Another year – holidays here (almost) – stay safe!

At this time of year, we always try to encourage our clients to remember to take special care to protect their assets over the holidays.

Following the tragic wildfires in California, we should be extra vigilant in taking all precautions around damage that can be caused by Mother Nature.

There are some man-made dangers too!


Australia is a wonderful place to live, but our beautiful country can provide a few challenges. Whether it be fires, storms, floods or other natural disasters, sitting down for a few moments to put together a disaster recovery plan could never be considered wasted time.

As always, 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.

Bushfires are becoming more intense and it is no longer a remote rural issue.

The various state arms of the SES have so much useful information on preparing and most importantly, surviving.

As you would expect, there is a lot of information around the bush and rural properties, but did you know that if you live along the coast near scrub you are also at risk? Coastal scrub fires can be hot and move very fast. This holds true for properties in built up areas that back onto grassland as grass fires can start easily and spread very quickly – embers can be blown towards your home and from there the situation can deteriorate very quickly.

The Rural Fire Service has a very extensive Bushfire Readiness Plan click below to download.

4 simple steps to making your bush fire survival plan

Storms and Floods

With much of the country suffering from extreme drought, not many people are thinking about this topic, but with extreme storms, “flash flooding” is becoming much more common. While flood generally refers to a river or natural watercourse bursting its banks, flash flooding is the result of a heavy rain from an intense storm storm falling in a particularly short period of time and can be just as devastating to the affected area.

With respect to flood safety, the ABC has an excellent summary:

Again, the Emergency Services provide exceptionally useful information via the SES website on floods. Click here to read more >

With respect to storms, remember preparation is the key. Some points to be aware of 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 tradesperson

There are other things you can do to help reduce the chance of you being a holiday victim:-

Other Holiday Dangers

With more people crowding into shopping centres over this time of year, ensure that you and your staff follow a few simple procedures:-

  • keep all personal property (such as bags, wallets and other valuables) out the back if possible or in a locked drawer. It is unfortunately very common for a group of people to work together to distract workers while an accomplice takes away whatever is in easy reach

  • cash should never be left on a desk, even for a moment. If possible, it should be taken immediately to the safe and locked away. When you receive money, always remember to be aware and deal with securing the money as a priority

  • don’t assume that it is just groups of walk-ins that can be the problem. Crimes of opportunity can happen at any time, whether it be someone pretending to be a courier, selling something or any other story – remain alert to everyone who enters your premises.

Physical Security

Over holidays when business are closed, there are always increased risks. There are things that you can do that may slow down or deter would-be thieves.

  • Ensure that all opening windows, big or small have some sort of locking device on them

  • Doors (excluding fire doors) should have deadlocks or deadbolts wherever possible. No lock is burglar-proof, but the better the quality, the more likely to slow down the would-be thief, or make them move on somewhere else.

  • Check for signs of tampering and if necessary report the incident to the police. Also graffiti and broken windows should be reported to the police. The more information the police have about what is going on in your area, the better chance they have of protecting you and your business neighbours.

  • Alarms are an excellent deterrent – but they are no good if they aren’t turned on! Have a check-list in place for your staff so that the last person leaving knows exactly what needs to be done, for example, check all doors and windows are locked, safe secured, and alarm activated.

  • If you don’t have an alarm, a sticker saying that you do can’t hurt!

  • External lighting, especially around areas of shrubbery means that there are less places to hide

  • If shops around you have their lights on during the night, make sure yours are on too – there are timers that can help you with this

While you are away

If you are going away, but the business is continuing to run, ensure that the person in charge has:-

  • a check-list of how to secure the property

  • a contact number for you, your Landlord/Property Manager and your Insurance Broker should something go wrong

Gow Gates can support your business

If you believe that this issue is relevant to your business, please feel free to contact Rebecca Fleming, Manager of our Travel Industry Division at Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers on (02) 8267 9919 or 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.