Posted on: February 1, 2022

Australian businesses — here are our top 5 tips to prepare for bushfire season 2022

Australia is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. But it doesn’t always mean that you and your business are completely doomed. Preparing our homes for bushfire season is just a regular part of our yearly routine — but what about our businesses?

As a business owner, you’re exposed to a variety of challenges throughout the year, and bushfire season is often one of the most problematic. Being prepared can improve recovery; it can mean the difference between your business reopening quickly or remaining closed. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the factors fuelling Australia’s bushfires and how you, as a business owner, can prepare for what’s to come.

What’s fuelling the severity of bushfire season?

Bushfires are an intrinsic part of Australia’s environment, with high temperatures, dry conditions and the combustible nature of many native plants contributing to fire occurrences. Although we never quite know what’s around the corner, we’ve been told to prepare for a milder bushfire season this summer. But that doesn’t mean we can relax.

Year by year, bushfire risk is increasing nationally. Australia’s summers are set to get drier and hotter. Forty years of data on the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) shows bushfire seasons have already become longer, start earlier and are more extreme.

So, why has the danger become greater in recent years? Many sources, including CSIRO point to climate change. The burning of coal, oil and gas is driving up global temperatures, leading to hotter Australian conditions. We’re seeing longer and hotter heatwaves, less rainfall and prolonged drought.

These predictions are a warning sign for all of us. Understanding your bushfire risk as a business owner will help you make the right decisions to improve your bushfire resilience and make sure you’re prepared well ahead of an outbreak.

Our top 5 bushfire preparation tips for Australian businesses

As an Australian business owner, it’s a given that you can’t get out of the path of a fire if it’s heading your way. But there are steps you can take to mitigate your risks. Don’t wait until a fire breaks out to act — here are some ideas on how you can prepare your business for bushfire season:

  1. Create and maintain your bushfire action plan – Disasters can be chaotic, but if your business responds swiftly, it can ensure the safety of your people. Develop and test your emergency response plans of time to ensure employees understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of a disaster. To ensure that everyone exits the buildings quickly and safely, you should ensure proper training of staff, role delegation in the evacuation process, fire assembly points and accessible emergency exits at all times.
  2. Mitigate the risk on your business premises – Adequate property maintenance can make a huge difference to the damage caused by bushfires. Do you regularly clear your roof and gutters of natural debris? Is the greenery that surrounds your property trimmed? These elements of your business premises pose a significant threat when it comes to ignition. Installing fireproof window shutters, non-combustible window frames and doors, and toughened glass can be effective in delaying a fire taking hold of your building – and those five or ten minutes can be enough time for the Rural Fire Service to arrive.
  3. Review your business continuity plan – If disaster strikes, your buildings, supplies, equipment, and machinery could all be impacted overnight. How will you continue to trade? The plan should spell out resources that you’ll need — including everything from utilities to equipment, technology, employees, and third-party services — to keep business functions running as much as possible.
  4. Make sure your business insurance is adequate – Business insurance isn’t something you can simply set and forget, because this will likely result in your business being under-insured. The insurance claims that arose from the 2019/2020 bushfires revealed that up to 40 per cent of people were underinsured according to the ICA – meaning they had insurance but didn’t have enough cover to replace everything they’d lost. You need to ensure that you understand what coverage you have, as well as any exclusions or limits that may be a part of your business insurance policy.
  5. Take note of your inventory and assets – To ensure adequate insurance, you need to regularly review your assets and get regular valuations. You’ll no doubt have good stock control in place, but you should also make note of all equipment and machinery in your work premises and ensure your insured value covers them. You also need to be able to access this information remotely in the event of a loss – this will make the claims process and required coordination with your customers and suppliers much easier.

Have you got adequate business insurance for bushfire season?

The devastating 2019/20 Australian bushfires were a wake-up call for many of us, with many businesses still struggling in the aftermath. Business insurance can help you cover any damages or losses from a bushfire — helping you bounce back from disaster faster.

At GIA Insurance Brokers, our experts help you to find the best insurance solutions for your business, lifting a huge weight off your shoulders should disaster strike.

Contact us today to talk to an expert.

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