Regardless of if you are planning to stay or go in the event of a fire, there are a range of things you need to do around your property before fire season kicks off.
These tasks are designed to starve the fire should it come onto your property and create a defendable space should you be in the line of fire or under ember attack.
Remember, there's a greater chance you'll have a home to come back to, should you choose to evacuate, if you've properly prepared your property.
Around the house you should block up all areas where embers can enter the house. This includes gaps under the floor, in the roof spaces, under eaves, external vents, skylights, chimneys and wall claddings.
Install metal flyscreens on all windows and vents, and metal gutter guards.
Position gas cylinders on the side of house that is most likely to be away from the direction of the fire and ensure they are away from trees and gardens. Direct any valves away from house.
Move garden beds away from the house and use stones instead of mulch.
Remove any wood, mulch or flammable material that is near or against the house.
Also remove garden furniture or hanging baskets.
Create a gap between your house and tree branches - the width of this gap varies from state to state, so please check with your local fire station or council, or use the links at the bottom of this story. In Queensland and Western Australia they ask for a minimum two metre gap; in Victoria it is best to check with your local council; in South Australia you are encouraged to reduce vegetation for 20 metres from your house, while Tasmania has a system of 'defendable spaces' including inner and outer zones.
Replace wood fences with metal fences.
On rural property, all those things should be done as well as ensuring there are no overhanging branches near power lines; that your home number or lot number is prominently displayed, so fire fighters can see it through thick smoke.
Ensure a fire tanker can access your property. This means allowing about a four metre wide and tall clearance, as well as a turning space.
Clear fire breaks along paddock boundaries and keep a well-maintained area around the home and sheds.
Place water pipes from dams underground and install a pump to the house. Make sure hoses have spray nozzles and keep the water tanks full and connected to pumps.
About 10,000 litres of water is needed to fight a fire.
Store petrol, diesel and gas away from the home.
The preparation steps
Trim overhanging trees and shrubs. This can stop the fire spreading to your home.
Mow grass to 10 centimetres or less and remove cuttings. Rake and have a cleared area around your home free of twigs, bark, leaves and other debris.
Remove material that can burn around your home (e.g. door mats, wood piles, mulch, leaves, paint, outdoor furniture).
Clear and remove all the debris and leaves from the gutters surrounding your home. Burning embers can set your home on fire.
Prepare a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home. Make sure you've got a reliable source of water.