Unfortunately, there are many incidences of bushfires in Australia and they can impact any household no matter where they happen to be in the country. There are, of course, several countermeasures you can take to protect your home from outbreaks. Taking out trees that are close to your house or digging out thick undergrowth are two sensible approaches. Additionally, using fire-retardant materials for your home is a good idea. When it comes to your home's windows, how bushfire-proof they might be could make all the difference between life and death. What sort of bushfire windows should you be looking at when upgrading to ensure you remain as safe as possible?
Fully closing windows
The first thing you need to do is to opt for windows that you can close fully. This will help to prevent fires from spreading if they break out inside the home, too, since less oxygen can get into feed the blaze. Furthermore, fully closing windows will help to prevent noxious gases from a nearby bushfire getting into your home. This does not just mean having lockable frames that will sit flush with their mountings but closable trickle vents, too. Trickle vents are popular additions to modern window frames because they allow aeration to occur even when your windows are shut. However, when there is a bushfire close by, you need to be able to close them completely so opt for ones that have this feature.
Bushfire attack levels explained
These days, good window manufacturers supply fenestration units with bushfire attack levels that meet Australian standards. Essentially, this is a guide for consumers to see how much protection a window will offer them from a blaze outside of their home. The rating is often abbreviated to BAL and, for example, a BAL-low window will only offer minimal protection. These are only suited to urban areas nowadays. In rural parts of the country and smaller towns, BAL-12.5 and BAL-19 will protect you from floating embers and even burning debris that might fall on the home. BAL-FZ and BAL-40 rated windows offer the highest levels of protection, ideal for places where the risk from such fires is already established.
Can standard windows be upgraded to protect from bushfires?
In a word, yes. It is possible to upgrade your windows such that they will offer moderate levels of protection from a bushfire outbreak. This will mean either fitting them with BAL-12.5 rated shutters or exterior mesh screens. For anything superior to these the glazing itself is likely to need to be upgraded which, in most cases, means replacing the whole fenestration unit.