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How to ensure your garage and home are prepared for the bushfire season

According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), New Zealand can expect a hot and dry summer. But keeping your family safe during this El Niño season isn’t as simple as slip-slop-slap; you also need to prepare for the possibility of bushfires.   


“Warmer, drier and windier conditions, particularly in the eastern areas of both islands and into Auckland and Northland, and that’s really going to drive up the fire danger in those areas,” says Fire and Emergency national wildfire manager Tim Mitchell


If your home is within a bushfire-prone zone, it’s critical to prepare your home and garage now before the threat of fire is on your doorstep. Your garage is an important part of the home, and a key point of exit.  


With this in mind, Merlin has put together some handy safety tips that you can use now to ensure that your home and garage are ready for the hot and dry months ahead.  


Writing a Fire Safety Plan 

For your peace of mind, nothing is more important than a Fire Safety Plan. Do your kids know where to go if there’s a fire? How will you leave your property? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you need to make and agree upon a Fire Safety Plan for your family. Make sure to involve your kids when writing your plan, to help them feel informed and included.  


When making your Fire Safety Plan, it’s vital to remember the spaces in your home that could be affected by fire. For example, bushfires might affect your power supply, which could prevent you from opening your garage door. It’s critical to have a plan in place that means you can quickly and safely open your garage door in the event of a fire.  


Testing Your Smoke Alarm

Next, make sure your smoke alarm is in tip-top shape. Alarms need to be tested regularly, and new batteries need to be put in at least once per year.  


Testing your alarm and making sure that your kids recognise the sound is a good way to ensure that you’ll be alerted if a fire is happening. This is crucial in keeping everyone safe, and helps your family’s chance of survival.  


Decluttering the Garage  

Decluttering the garage is important for a streamlined exit in the event of a bushfire. Keeping the garage uncluttered is always a challenge, but it’s crucial when bushfire season is approaching. Clear away bikes, kids’ toys, and any other debris to ensure you can exit the garage quickly and safely. A handy tip is to keep the floor clear by securing bikes and scooters to the walls of your garage.  


Cleaning Around the Garage  

During a bushfire, leaves and other tinder-dry material can ignite and spread flames to your home. Cleaning around your garage (in gutters, drains and downpipes) is an easy way to reduce your risk in case a fire occurs.  


Learning to Operate the Manual Release Cord  

All Merlin automatic garage door openers are equipped with a manual release cord, which allows you to operate your garage door during a blackout. You and each member of your family should learn how to operate the manual release cord on your roller door, so you know how to do so if a fire occurs.

The manual release cord should also be checked regularly to make sure it’s in good working order. The plastic handle at the end of the cord should be intact, and the cord should be free from signs of fraying. To open your garage door manually, find the red manual release cord near the motor on the side of the door. For tilt and sectional doors, this will also be near the motor, which should be in the middle of the garage ceiling.  


For smaller kids, using the manual release cord could be tricky or even impossible. To help them exit the garage quickly and safely, having a Battery Backup is crucial.  


Battery Backup  

Installing a Battery Backup ensures that your garage door opener and its safety features can still operate in a power outage. Because the garage door is a key point of exit, having one of these is an important step in your Fire Safety Plan. 


What Next? 


It’s crucial for residents in bushfire-prone areas to start preparing now. Ensuring that your kids know what to do in the event of a fire means that you can go into summer feeling prepared, knowing that your family will be safe.  

“Fires can occur anywhere under the right conditions, particularly if it’s windy conditions, a single spark and away a wildfire can go,” Mr Mitchell said. By following the tips above, you can keep your family safe this bushfire season.  


Be safe this bushfire season and make your garage is part of your survival plan.  


For more information about your manual release cord or Battery Backup, contact our Customer Service team on 0800 653 667 or visit our website.  


For more information about Merlin, or to browse our wide range of garage door openers, gate openers, and accessories, visit our website or call 0800 653 667.