Fires can spread quickly, causing extensive damage and loss.
Protecting your home from fire can improve the chances of you, your family, and your house surviving.
Don’t wait for the dry heat to set in before you think about bushfire danger. Regular maintenance and planning throughout the year can save you time and reduce your chance of damage or loss.
1. Prepare your home
Whether it's bushfires or fire hazards around your home, there are steps you can take to be prepared.
- You should always have a fully stocked first aid kit, and keep the surrounds of your house tidy and clear of dry or green waste.
- Clear your roof’s gutters of dry leaves and other debris.
- Keep your grass cut low, with plants and trees trimmed back.
- Store flammable liquids/LPG cylinders well away from your home.
- Use non-flammable garden coverings (like using pebbles instead of mulch or bark) and have a garden hose long enough to reach your fence/roof.
- Hose down your house, garden, and timber decks.
- Install smoke alarms on each storey of your house.
Learn more about preparing for bushfires and how to prepare an emergency plan.
2. Tune in to updates (radio/TV)
Listen to your local radio station and watch TV for warnings and fire updates. This information can help you work out if the fire has passed or if you need to evacuate.
Check the Queensland Government disaster and alerts website.
3. Know when to evacuate your home
Always listen to and follow the instructions of your local fire or emergency services.
In some instances, the fire warning level may allow you to stay and defend your home. The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) provides vital information for defending your home and protecting yourself, your family, and pets during fires.
In Queensland, a Code Red or catastrophic fire level means your home is not defendable. If your area is issued with either of these threat levels leave your house immediately.
Take important documents (such as your insurance policies and identification documents) with you if it’s safe to do so. This may help to ease the stress and reduce delays during your recovery process.
Contact the SES on 132 500 if you require assistance.
4. What to do after a bushfire has passed
Make sure it’s safe outside before you start any clean-up work. To protect yourself and your home, you should wear protective clothing and:
- keep kids and pets away from damaged areas until cleaned
- drink plenty of water and tune in to updates (on the radio/TV)
- not handle any material you think is asbestos
- check for embers or spot fires
- in gardens, sheds and gutters
- on outdoor furniture, windows and verandas
- under your house/floor.
5. Making a claim
If your property has been affected by a bushfire, call us on 13 7202 to make a claim.
Household fires are commonly caused by simple mistakes but there are things you can do to help reduce the risks.
How to prevent house fires
Besides learning how to extinguish house fires, and buying a fire extinguisher and fire blanket, you should:
- install smoke alarms and test their batteries regularly
- never leave cooking or heating equipment unattended
- keep flammable materials and liquids away from ovens, hot plates, heaters and heated appliances (e.g. straightening irons)
- use power boards with overload protection rather than double adaptors
- keep keys for locked doors and windows in an accessible place for evacuation
- ensure all electrical appliances are serviced by a qualified and licensed tradesperson
- not smoke or use open flames near gas
- clean the lint out of your dryer and let it cool down between cycles.
Always call 000, (or 112 from a mobile phone) in an emergency if you cannot put out a fire safely.
Common causes of house fires
Knowing some of the reasons why house fires start can help to prevent them. Fires can start in several ways, including through:
- cooking and electrical equipment—don’t leave your cooking unattended, or use appliances with frayed cords
- heaters—keep heaters at least 1m away from children and furniture, and check fireplaces meet safety standards
- smoking—cigarette butts may stay lit for hours, even after thinking you’ve put them out correctly
- candles—never leave candles unattended, and always blow the flame out before sleeping. Move candles away from carpeted areas, curtains and books
- children—kids are curious so keep any matches or lighters out of their reach, and install a smoke alarm in their room
- faulty wiring—examples include lights diming when using an appliance, or an appliance not working unless you disconnect another
- BBQs—keep your BBQ well maintained and ensure its gas bottle is not leaking before use.
Your insurance questions answered
What is insurance and why is it important?
Insurance is about protecting yourself from the unexpected. When you have belongings and property that are of value, you want to know that you are covered if they were damaged or lost. In Queensland, we are all too familiar with unpredictable weather and the impacts of cyclones, floods, storms and bushfires. But insurance also protects you against things like theft, damage and legal liability.
When you pay your insurance premium, it goes into a pool of money with everyone else’s premium. When people claim on their policy, that money comes out of the pool. In the event of a catastrophe e.g. large scale flooding or a cyclone, this pool of money goes to helping a lot of people recover.
What is the Emergency Services Levy (ESL)?
The Emergency Services Levy (ESL) is an emergency services insurance contribution scheme that funds the fire and rescue emergency services in New South Wales (NSW). Insurance companies are required to contribute to the budget for these services in NSW each financial year. Insurers may reclaim this amount from their policyholders by charging an ESL in their insurance policy premium.
The Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor (ESL Monitor) published an Order requiring insurance companies, and those acting on their behalf, to provide a breakdown of the ESL component of the premium, as well as year on year premium comparisons. These disclosure requirements are being enforced by the ESL Insurance Monitor.
Will this increase insurance premiums?
There is no direct change to policy premiums because of the ESL. However, you may see an impact in the ESL contribution compared to last year.
Affected insurance products
These are the different policy types that are impacted by these changes:
- Motor Vehicle
- Body Corporate
- Unique vehicle
- Enthusiast Car & Motorcycle
After more information? Check out www.eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.au/frequently-asked-questions.
What is reinsurance?
Insurance companies need insurance as well - this is reinsurance. In the event of a major catastrophe, sometimes the amount of money we pay to help customers recover from loss or damage takes a large portion out of our reserves. By insuring a percentage of those reserves, we make sure that we can recover some of the money we pay out to customers. That way we can continue to offer you a competitive premium.
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