ACT residents are the most concerned in the country about being impacted by bushfires this season, yet they are the least likely to have taken steps to prepare, according to the latest NRMA Insurance claims data.
While 74 per cent of ACT residents are concerned about being affected by bushfires or grassfires this spring and summer, 32 per cent said they would know what to do if a bushfire threatened their home and only 20 per cent had taken steps to prepare and protect their homes over the past six months.
The data also highlights the damage caused by wild weather in the ACT this winter, with one in eight home claims due to severe weather.
The NRMA received a total of 4184 claims for wild weather damage to homes and vehicles this winter, which was considerably lower than last winter and down 67 per cent from the autumn.
There were 66 wild weather claims in the ACT this winter, down from 228 in autumn 2023. Of this total, 53 were wild weather home claims (accounting for 12.9 per cent of all home claims in the ACT) and 13 were wild weather motor claims.
The ACT suburbs hit hardest by bad weather this winter were Gungahlin, Monash, Conder, Isabella Plains and Kaleen.
NRMA meteorologist Dr Bruce Buckley said despite a mild winter, ACT residents should be ready for all types of weather extremes this spring.
This is particularly the case as the Bureau of Meteorology has declared El Niño is underway, with warm and dry conditions likely and an increased risk of extreme temperature shifts such as heatwaves and hotter-than-average days. El Niño is also associated with increased fire risk in south-east Australia in spring and summer.
Given the extreme weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere in recent months, Dr Buckley said Australians should be prepared for these risks this summer.
“Some of the extreme weather drivers experienced in the Northern Hemisphere, such as widespread and increased sea temperatures and El Niño, also apply to Australia, escalating the risks associated with higher temperatures this spring,” he said.
“With parts of the ACT on alert for grassfires, we’re encouraging people to prepare now, particularly as grasslands are drying up quickly as we head into El Niño conditions.
“On top of fire risk, severe storms can develop quickly and strike at any time, so it’s critical people understand their local risks and stay alert for storms that can emerge quickly.
“Now is the time to minimise fire risks around the home, before temperatures reach extremes.
“You can reduce your risk by cutting back tree branches, cleaning your gutters, moving things away from your home, and making sure you have a hose that can reach all around.”
For more information on how to prepare for bushfires, visit the ACT ESA website.