By Sasha Oelsner
Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Summer in Australia is synonymous with beaches, barbecues and backyard games. Images of snow can’t cool down our festive season, and the sun is high and the vibes are good.
Unfortunately summer in Australia also comes with a high fire risk and higher chance of holiday break-ins.
Avoid anything ruining your summertime buzz with these five tips to prepare your home for summer, then chat to RAA for a quote on your Home and Contents Insurance*.
1. Service your air-conditioner
With three quarters of Australian households having an air-conditioner, and South Aussies taking out the top spot for air con usage, it’s safe to suggest that you’ll probably be switching on the cooling this summer.
Your air-conditioner has laid dormant for the last few months, gathering dust and dirt in its filters, fans and other moving parts. Is there an odd smell when you turn it on for the first time in a long time? That’s dust, pollen, allergens and general dirt, which is now circulating through your house destroying the air quality. Pretty gross, huh?
Getting your air-conditioner checked not only helps stop the nasties from spreading through your home, it can also give you peace of mind that there’s no fire risk due to faulty or damaged wires, and allay concerns that it will break down right at the start of a heatwave.
While you’re thinking about it, we know that you’ve already checked your smoke alarms over Daylight Savings Weekend but there’s no harm in giving them a triple-check and a look-over by a qualified electrician.
The best bit is that a clean, maintained air-conditioner runs more efficiently, reducing your energy consumption and, in turn, your energy bill.
2. Spring clean your BBQ for summer
You open the barbecue lid and your heart sinks. You forgot to give it a wipe down when you used it last, about six months ago.
Even if you’re a responsible barbecue user, it’s worth giving your equipment a once-over before it gets a hammering this season.
Many barbecues are attached to a large and flammable gas cylinder that has been sitting around for a while. The gas cylinder can be an explosion risk, so check the hose for signs of deterioration and spray the connection with soapy water to find any leaks. If bubbles appear then gas is escaping, so turn off the gas immediately and get the hose or cylinder repaired or replaced.
Consider getting a gas safety gauge. Not only do they have a handy level indicator so you don’t run out of flame mid-grill, but they also have an auto shut-off function to prevent gas leaks.
Check out our guide for getting your BBQ pristine for the season ahead.
3. Check your locks
With summer’s beautiful nightly breezes, we are more likely to cool the house down by keeping some of our doors open.
And with Christmas around the corner, our homes might be filled with valuable gifts underneath the brightly-lit tree, shining clearly through the window.
Now is a good time to check the locks on your doors and windows. Make sure the locks are secure and call a locksmith to upgrade them if they’re looking worn or vulnerable. You may want to consider digital or biometric locks, as many are compatible with home security systems.
4. Clean your gutters
After a long, windy winter, it’s likely your gutters are clogged with leaves and other debris, especially if parts of your roof are underneath a tree. Don’t wait until next winter to clean your gutters. It’s much nicer to get it done now when the sun is shining, rather than wait until they’re clogged, sagging and overflowing next winter.
This soon-to-be-dry leaf litter is the perfect kindling for a fire during the South Australian summer. We suggest hiring a qualified roof repairer to clear the gutters so you can sit back and relax while they put it in hard work on the ladder. You can also get them to install gutter guards to prevent leaves from entering in the first place, also making it easier to clean next time.
5. Be prepared for ‘summer branch drop’
If you have a lush, tree-filled garden, it’s a good idea to check on your branches, and tidy up any leaf litter on the ground that could be a fire hazard.
There aren’t any warning signs that a healthy tree will suddenly drop branches, and the last thing you want is for it to damage the roof of your house or your car – or land on you. Although the exact cause is not known, this phenomenon seems to happen more often in summer and our Australian Eucalypts are notorious for randomly dropping limbs.
Check whether you need approval from your local council first, then get a professional arborist to check the health of your trees and advice on whether structures or people are at risk. It’s also a good idea to prune or cut back any overhanging branches to reduce the likelihood of them falling, especially if they’re hanging over property.
* This product is issued by RAA Insurance Ltd ABN 14 007 872 602. AFSL No. 232525. Limits apply. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination available from the RAA website when deciding whether to purchase this product.