Aussies unprepared for bushfires

Aussies unprepared for bushfires
Aussies are putting their homes at risk because many still don’t know how to handle bushfires, according to a report

 22 November 2007

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As the nation gears up for another long, hot summer, new research from leading insurer AAMI shows one in five (19 per cent) Australians would not know what to do if a bushfire threatened their home.

AAMI Public Affairs Manager Geoff Hughes said this week that, despite increasing awareness of climate change and dry conditions across the country, many of us still don’t know how to handle bushfires, and are ill-prepared for the threat they pose to our homes and belongings.

“The early start to this year’s bushfire season should act as a trigger for all Australians to prepare themselves for a potentially dangerous summer, but the reality is that more than one-third (37 per cent) do not have a home fire escape plan in place,” Mr Hughes said.

“It is a concern that many Australians don’t have a plan whereby all family members would know what to do in the case of a home fire that couldn’t be extinguished,” Mr Hughes said.

“Also worrying is that one-quarter (24 per cent) said they had children aged three to 12, who would not know what to do in a home fire.”

One in 20 Australians (five per cent) has personally been affected by bushfire, with their home partially or fully burned as a result.

Despite recognising the prevalence of bushfires, Mr Hughes said many people were still not taking adequate measures to protect their home.

“While people understand the role the drought has played in making their home more prone to fire, almost one-quarter of Australians (22 per cent) do not regularly clean the gutters of their home and one in six (17 per cent) fails to prune back branches and foliage adjacent to their home,” he said.

Mr Hughes said there was more we could all do to help prevent ourselves becoming victims of a home fire – including some simple steps every Australian could take to protect themselves from the threat of bush fire, and house fire, in general.

“These steps include leaving keys in deadlocked doors and windows when the family is at home, to enable people to get out of the house in case of a fire, something one-third of people (28 per cent) fail to do. Also, only one-third of us (31 per cent) own fire extinguishers and even fewer (22 per cent) own fire blankets.

And while 93 per cent of all Australians have a smoke alarm in their home, 10 per cent admit that they don’t regularly check to see if it works.

While protecting your home from fire is the ideal scenario, it is important to check that your insurance policy cover is sufficient and up-to-date.

However, Mr Hughes said 29 per cent of people believed they did not have sufficient insurance cover to fully replace their building, while 35 per cent believed they would not be sufficiently insured to fully replace their home’s contents, if they were lost to fire

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