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Bushfires are one of the hazards of the environment in Australia, but many Australians have not safeguarded their homes against them. Of course, you cannot control a bushfire – but you can prepare your home and make it safer.
The first step is to determine your risk. To find out whether your property is located in a Bushfire zone you can consult a Bushfire map from your local council. If you live in a bushfire zone, it is very important to think about the safety of your home. The closer you live to the bush, the more likely it is that you will need to strongly consider your design options and materials when creating an outdoor living area.
So how can you make your alfresco space safe? Here are some fire safety tips you can keep in mind when you are building a deck:
Keep Flammable Items Away
Any items such as paper, boxes, woodpiles, crates, garden furniture and hanging baskets should not be kept next to your deck, patio or pergola, as this can be a fire hazard. Also, avoid storing grass clippings, tree branches and other materials that could be fuel for a fire.
Think About Landscaping
It is important to plan your landscaping before you build your home and your deck, so that you can create a design that is as fire-safe as possible. Focus on low flammable plants with very little leaf fall, open spaces around the building, dirt hills and paths. Also, consider planting hedges as a windbreak with dense foliage in order to catch embers and reduce wind – as long as they are at least 20 metres from your house.
When you are designing your deck, consider using non-combustible materials for the frame and the supporting posts. For example, instead of using wood you could use concrete or steel grates. If you are using any timber in your deck design, it should be treated with weather-resistant retardant. Or, choose a type of timber that is naturally fire retardant, such as river red gum, spotted gum, black butt, red ironbark or turpentine.
If your property is in a severe bushfire risk zone, you might not even be allowed to use timber when building your deck. In that case, you might want to consider a steel frame covered by tiles, or specially designed aluminium boards that mimic the look of wood.
There are a lot of things to think about when you are installing a new deck, outdoor living area or patio and bushfire safety is one of the most important factors to consider. A bushfire can spread quickly and can be incredibly dangerous, so keep these crucial tips in mind when designing your outdoor living spaces.