A well prepared home is more likely to survive a bush fire.
Even if your plan is to leave early, the more you prepare your home, the more likely it will survive a bush fire or ember attack. A well prepared home can also be easier for you or firefighters to defend, and is less likely to put your neighbours’ homes at risk. A well prepared home will also give you more protection if a fire threatens suddenly and you cannot leave.
Here are some basic maintenance tips to prepare your property:
+ Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs
+ Install metal gutter guards
+ Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
+ Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
+ Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
+ Enclose the areas under the house
+ Repair or cover gaps in external walls
+ Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
+ Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
+ Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
+ Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
+ Have hoses long enough to reach around your house
+ If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water
+ Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up to date.
Source: NSW Rural Fire Service
Australia has experienced it’s share of weather extremes in 2014.
Sydney alone experienced two record thunderstorms with once-in-a-century downpours towards the end of 2014, with cyclonic-strength destructive wind gusts; preceded by a snowfall event in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. On top of that the city has experienced another year of exceptional warmth.
Other parts of the country haven’t been left untouched by the weather; Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are currently battling fierce bushfires under some of the worst bushfire conditions experienced for a long time.
While both Brisbane and Hobart experienced extreme storm fronts that brought large hail stones in the last few months of 2014 – resulting in enormous damage bills.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, in 2014, Australia had its third-warmest year in national records from 1910; with the addition of a relatively mild winter, once the warmth from inland Australia arrives in our cities, the mercury is sent up to uncomfortably high levels quickly – assisting in creating bushfire conditions and storm weather events. An example of this occurred in Sydney in late September, when it posted its earliest consecutive days above 32 degrees. In November, the western suburbs of the city were recording 40-plus days, and outer western suburbs reaching over 45 – setting new highs.
Bushfire season started early in 2014, the RFS reported 167 bush and grass fires in just four days in July; and started the official bushfire season a month early in preparedness.
Weather outlook for 2015
So what’s ahead for us in 2015 – it’s being tipped “highly likely” that we will experience warmer than average temperatures for the first half of 2015. The Bureau of Meteorology has the El Nino tracker set at Alert, with Near El Nino conditions currently in the Pacific and a delayed monsoon, the result meaning Northern and Central Australia risk hotter than normal temperatures and that heat will flow down to the south.
How can you protect your home from weather extremes?
Gutters are a wide open entrance into the roof space of your home. During a storm or large downpour, overflowing gutters are one of the four most common reasons for water to enter a home during a storm. In addition to the risks during a storm; more than 80% of homes that burn down during a bushfire are set alight by embers that enter the home through gaps and vents (like your gutters) and if your gutters are full of leaves, the process is only accelerated.
Installing a quality gutter guard onto your gutters adds a level of protection for your home against the many weather extremes – rain, hail, bushfire embers, possums, and more.
Without a quality gutter protection system in place, you could be putting your home, and your safety, at risk.
Here’s the Top 6 reasons to install a gutter guard :
- Ensure debris-free gutters
A build-up of unwanted leaves and other debris in the gutters of your home can cause serious maintenance issues. It can lead to an increased risk of flooding, as well as pest and vermin infestation.
- Low maintenance
Unprotected gutters require more frequent cleaning, which can be time consuming, and potentially unsafe. Installing a quality gutter protection system prevents debris and leaves from accumulating in the first place – significantly improving the overall safety and performance of your gutter system.
- Protect against pests
Unprotected gutters can provide a convenient entry point to your warm and inviting roof space, which then becomes a nesting site and food source for a host of common household pests such as birds, possums, rats, mice and snakes.
- Avoid floods and water damage
With a quality gutter guard installed, your gutters are able to transport rainwater the way they’re designed to, significantly reducing the risk of flooding in storms and heavy rain, as well as the likelihood of damage to your walls and ceilings if your home were to flood.
- Protect your home from ember attack
Ember attack is where sparks and embers landing on your home trigger a fire, well before and hours after a bushfire has passed. As well as acting as a gutter guard, a 2mm super fine steel mesh acts as an ember guard, by preventing embers from entering your roof cavity.
- Improve water quality
If you have a rainwater harvesting system, installing a gutter guard is vital – to ensure clean, usable water. By keeping gutters free from leaves and debris, you also minimise wastage, and collect the greatest possible volume.
Every day, Aussie homeowners climb ladders onto roofs to complete home maintenance jobs, like cleaning out gutters. Unfortunately, in worst cases, people are losing their life and thousands more are sustaining serious injuries from ladder related falls.
Each year, 19.4 Australian’s (mostly men) are fatally injured after falling from a ladder. The Australian National Coroners Information System also tells us that most of these fatalities are men over the age of 50 years old who are on a ladder completing non-occupational activities (i.e not at work). Approximately 34% of these deaths occur during home maintenance activities.
During the 5 year period between 2005 and 2010, 4,677 patients were admitted to Queensland hospitals with the reason “Falling on or from a ladder”, but this isn’t just happening in Queensland – we see similar results across the whole country.
Roof and Gutter maintenance are one of the key areas for maintenance on Australian homes. While some opt for a professional to come and complete maintenance, many don’t and take the DIY approach – putting themselves at risk of falls. Others take the “she’ll be right approach” and neglect to complete any sort of gutter maintenance. This can lead to not only blocked gutters and flooding; causing extensive damage to roof and ceiling areas, walls and floors, and destroying precious home contents, but damage to gutters; rusting and eventually requiring replacement. If leaves and debris build up in gutters, it can create the prefect haven for disease-carrying mosquitos in the stagnant, pooled water left behind – a risk for you and your family.
Installing a quality over-the-gutter gutter protection system ensures that gutters are kept leaf and debris free whilst minimising the frequency of required maintenance, thus reducing the risk of falls.
Australians are advised to prepare for wild weather this summer with temperatures increasing and a drier than normal summer over much of the country. With the increased temperature, comes the threat of large storms.
One large cause of damage to a home during a storm is due to blocked gutters. Under normal circumstances, gutters collect the rain water that falls on your roof and direct it away from your house into a drainage or storage system. When gutters become blocked from fallen leaves, branches, dirt and debris, the gutters can’t take the water away, the way they are designed to, and often end up overflowing during heavy rain and storms. This can lead to flooding; water entering the house by overflowing over the back of the gutter into eaves and ceiling cavities, overflowing onto verandas, terraces and stair slabs and flowing into the downstairs rooms or causing drainage problems for the homeowner and adjacent properties.
Unfortunately, blocked gutters are difficult to spot from the ground, and you often don’t know you have a problem until it’s too late – in the middle of a storm or heavy rainfall when it is often too wet and dangerous to climb on the roof to clear out the blockage. Preparing your home before the storm is the ideal option. Install a high quality, steel, over-the-gutter gutter protection system with a ski-slope design such as Blue Mountain Mesh to ensure leaves and debris don’t enter your gutters in the first place. The strength of a steel gutter guard ensures your home is protected against extreme rain events and hail stones. Homeowners who have installed gutter protection say that the guard prevents gutters from becoming blocked and they have peace of mind knowing they are protected from the risks of property damage, and more serious personal threats, at any time of year but particularly during storms.
Do it right the first time and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with leaf free gutters.
One of the main areas of maintenance on an Australian family home is the roof and gutters. Constant gutter maintenance can become costly and needs to be carried out multiple times a year. When it comes to gutter cleaning, most Australians tend to fall into two camps – “out of sight, out of mind” no maintenance approach or the DIY approach.
Installing an over the gutter system gutter guard, such as Blue Mountain Mesh, significantly reduces the amount of leaf litter and debris build-up in the gutters – this reduces the amount of maintenance required. Blocked gutters can be caused by a number of issues: a build-up of leaves getting blown off the roof and into the gutter, moss build up, grass/plants growing in the gutter, or pests including possums or birds making nests in the gutters. All these things can lead to stopping water flow in your gutters and the onset of problems. Blocked gutters can cause extensive damaged from flooding and also cause serious corrosion of gutters, shortening the life of your gutter and requiring gutter replacement. These costs quickly add up and often exceed the cost of installing a quality gutter guard.
Although the initial costs of installing gutter guard can be substantial, the ongoing costs are significantly lower, and you will feel it in your back pocket in just a few years. The average Australian home, without gutter guard, requires cleaning four times a year on average(approx. $1000 per year), while the same home with gutter guard installed, only requires cleaning once a year on average (approx. $250 per year). For those who take the DIY route and climb up a ladder and on to the roof to clean out and maintain gutters, the risk of falls causing serious injury and death, is significant. On average, 19.4 Australians (mostly men at or near retirement age) die from falling from a ladder each year, while many others sustain serious injuries.
It only takes one leaf too many to clog a gutter and cause you a serious problem; don’t let one leaf end up costing you thousands in damages to your most important assets – your health and your home.
With summer almost upon us, pests such as snakes are coming out of hibernation looking for a new home. Unprotected gutters can be the perfect home for these pests. Not only can these critters block-up your gutters, but gutters also provide access to your roof space.
With Cyclone season officially starting at the beginning of November in Queensland, Queenslanders are urged to “Get Ready” for the 2014/15 cyclone season. The peak period for cyclone formation is normally between January and March each year.
In the lead up to what is expected to be a long, dry summer, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) are urging homeowners in bushfire prone areas to be prepared as the 2014/15 bushfire season is expected to be earlier and worse than last year.
With bushfire season approaching experts are warning Australian homeowners to protect their roofs from fire fuelling debris well before the fires arrive. This year, temperatures are expected to be well above average, and the hot, dry conditions bring a higher risk of more extreme bushfires throughout the whole of Australia. Each summer Australians are advised to clear roof gutters of leaves and branches prior to fire season so they don’t catch fire from jumping flames and ember attack.