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High-risk areas not prepared for bushfire threat

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Residents in areas prone to bushfire risk are still not doing enough to prepare for the danger, despite routine multiple warnings on the importance of contingency planning, according to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

With an above normal fire potential looming, it is even more critical that households in at-risk regions have an escape plan on hand, the centre’s CEO Richard Thornton says in an article published on The Conversation website.

“Bushfires are predicted to be worse than normal across much of Australia this summer but research shows many people, especially those in high-risk areas, remain unprepared,” he writes.

“Our research is consistently showing that many Australians, especially those in high risk areas, are not sufficiently ready for fire and have not established fire plans well ahead of time.”

The CRC research released last year looked into community preparedness and responses to the NSW bushfires in 2017. It found many survey respondents affected by the Sir Ivan fire in central-western NSW in 2017 did not anticipate the size or severity of the blaze.

Analysis of residents affected by the Carwoola and Currandooley infernos in NSW in 2017 indicate that some may have underestimated the risks to life and property because the conditions were not catastrophic.

“Certainly all of our research has shown going right back as far as the Eyre Peninsula fires [in SA] to the Black Saturday fires [in Victoria] … people who have been impacted, all of them say firstly they were surprised they were impacted,” Mr Thornton told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Secondly, they thought it was a risk that was for everybody else and not for them. Because they didn’t see themselves at risk they were not prepared.”

The research into the 2017 NSW bushfires also found many hobby farms, small acreages and large farm properties were significantly under-insured. Many owners said they regarded insurance as cost-prohibitive.