Did you know that predicting the severity of a given bushfire season is challenging and many people fail to prepare for them?

And when the threat becomes real, it can be too late and too emotional to make safe and critical decisions. No matter how small (remember embers can fly great distances to create new outbreaks), the best thing you can do is be bushfire aware – NASA data revealed in 2013 that there were 4,595 fires per week across Australia*.

Make sure you know your risk zone and what to do when you’re away.

Bushfires do not discriminate and you may find your workplace or holiday home could also place you at risk or you may unintentionally drive through a risk zone. Powerful winds, intense heat, thick smoke and deafening noise are very debilitating, power and water may be cut off and the darkness is terrifying. Check out the website of your local council (or of the area you’re visiting) to check for bushfire prone areas.

Be prepared to leave early if you’re near a bushfire alert region.

If possible, make plans to immediately evacuate whenever a warning is issued and tune in to local radio for updates and advice. Your physical safety is the priority and don’t forget your pets or livestock. Always follow the advice of your local fire and emergency services.

Prepare your surroundings if you’re in a risk zone.

Keep your garden well maintained and clear of debris, remove flammable items away from the house, ensure outside items are non-combustible and the pressure relief valves on LPG cylinders face outwards. Consider installing a sturdy hose with a reliable source of water.

For more practical information, check out the NSW Rural Fire Service Bushfire Survival Plan or contact your local fire services authority:

Most household policies cover bushfires but check your home, content and car insurance is up-to-date.

When updating or modifying your property, consider revaluating your building sum insured to cover the full replacement cost of these recent upgrades. Also consider whether you should insure your vehicle for ‘market value’ (what it would fetch on the open market, as is at claim time) or ‘agreed value’ – a fixed sum agreed between you and your insurer, which may be higher than market value. Find out more at CGU.

* http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-10/bushfire-frequency-has-increased-by-40-per-cent-over-five-years/7153182

Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 trading as CGU Insurance. Any advice is general only. Consider the relevant PDS available from cgu.com.au to see if a product is right for you.

This blog post is for general information purposes only and is not intended as financial or professional advice. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product or other professional advice. You should seek your own independent financial, legal and taxation advice before making any decision about any action in relation to the material in this article. Railways Credit Union Limited trading as MOVE Bank ABN 91 087 651 090. AFSL/ Australian Credit License number 234 536 | ABN 91 087 651