Tips to help prepare your home for an increased risk of bushfire this summer

bushfires australia 2019-2020 black summer


Posted October 13, 2023

With warmer weather already here, RACV has provided bushfire preparation advice and a series of safety tips for Victorians to help prepare their homes for the increased risk of bushfire this summer.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has declared an El Niño weather pattern is active over the Pacific Ocean for the first time in eight years. An El Niño weather pattern will mean reduced rainfall and warmer temperatures, which may increase the risk of bushfires during summer.

Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world, and bushfires are just part of our lives. The tragedy of the 2019-2020 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires is still very recent. You do not have to live right near the bush to be at risk, so it’s important to heed all warnings and updates from relevant authorities.

Preparing your property for bushfire season

Understanding the risks you face with extreme weather conditions will help you better prepare for them.

RACV Head of Home and Business Insurance, Kirsty Hayes, considers that now is the time to help protect your home ahead of potential bushfires.

“Getting ahead of the weather and being prepared for the coming heat and elevated fire risks is the key to enjoying a safe summer,” Ms Hayes said.

“We know that during an El Niño weather pattern, summers can be hotter and dryer for longer – so we need to be vigilant from now, all the way through to winter.”

RACV has outlined its advice to help your home be safer from fires:

Tips for protecting your home

  • Keep up a regular home and garden maintenance routine by mowing the lawn and removing debris from gutters and pipes.
  • Seal gaps in windows and doors as best you can.
  • Remove and store flammable items (including wood piles) well away from your home.
  • Make sure your home insurance is current and covers you for the right items and structures.

Staying safe

  • Plan on how and where to evacuate to in the event you need to leave.
  • Have an emergency kit of essential and sentimental items packed up and ready to go.
  • Monitor the bushfire alert levels and Fire Danger Ratings and follow the advice and direction of emergency services.
  • Download the VicEmergency app for real-time emergency information and warnings:

Check your insurance policies are up to date

  • We consider that being prepared for severe weather events also includes making sure your home insurance and motor insurance is current and sufficient in the event you need to make a claim.
  • Read your policy Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). This document gives you a full list of the conditions, limits and exclusions associated with your home or motor insurance policy.
  • Calculate the estimated cost to rebuild or repair your home using a home buildings calculator.
  • Calculate the estimated cost to repair or replace your contents by using a home contents calculator.
  • Call your insurer to check your policy limits, what optional extras are available to you, your renewal date and any other information you’re unsure about.
man cleaning gutters

Keep up a regular home and garden maintenance routine to help make your home safe. 


Ways you can prepare your motor vehicle

As well as checking your motor vehicle is insured, you can look to purchase a tarp or plan to park it under a sheltered covering. Also ensure that your vehicle has had a routine safety check, including:  

  • Having a mechanic check that your vehicle is in good working order and free from potential defects.
  • Making sure your vehicle battery is in good condition, as high temperatures can affect it.
  • Checking that all tyres (as well as the spare tyre) have sufficient tread and are correctly inflated.
  • Fuelling up the vehicle. 
  • Stocking up the vehicle with emergency supplies like water and pure wool blankets.
woman and man packing car

Make sure you prepare your emergency kit and essential items ahead of time. Image: Getty.


Know your risk, have a plan

You don’t have to live in the country to be at risk of fire. If you live near or plan to travel through holiday areas that have significant bush, forest, long grass, or coastal scrub, then we suggest you plan ahead for the fire season.

Not everyone thinks clearly in an emergency. Taking steps to get prepared before the fire season means you can plan for what to do when you’re at risk. A written, and preferably well-practised bushfire plan, will help you remember what needs to be done during a crisis. The CFA has a bushfire survival planning template to help you write down your plan.


woman and man planning

Taking steps to get prepared before the fire season ensures you have a plan. Image: Getty.


Resources to stay informed

Those who will be in bushfire-prone areas should consider downloading the VicEmergency app on their smartphones and save the number to the VicEmergency Hotline: 1800 226 226.

If you are in a life-threatening situation, call 000 immediately.

These resources and apps can help you during bushfire season:

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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s)issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.