After fires tore through parts of Queensland in an earlier-than-expected bushfire season, emergency services are warning of the growing threat to suburban backyards as the weather gets hotter and drier.
This year's unprecedented bushfire season not only started earlier but is expected to last longer.
Bushfires are currently contained, but could cause problems later in the day in the Gold Coast hinterland if winds speeds pick up.
Although residents might assume the threat is limited to regional bushland areas, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said that was far from true.
Bushfires in beachside communities on the Sunshine Coast have shown just how quickly fire can spread to well-populated residential areas.
Who should prepare?
Anyone who lives close to bushland, according QFES Acting Deputy Commissioner John Bolger.
"It doesn't matter if you live in the bush or in the suburbs — we haven't had any substantial rain for some period now," he said.
"Wherever you adjoin, or are nearby, a substantial amount of bushland, then there is a risk of fire and there is a risk of an ember attack."
Homes at risk include properties near natural reserves, parklands, national parks or landholders, including pockets around the Brisbane CBD.
Fire authorities call this the "interface zone" between the bush and the suburbs.
Deputy Commissioner Bolger said the type of terrain was also important to consider.
"If you're in relatively flat country it's not so bad, but if you're in a hilly country ... I'd have a bushfire survival plan if I lived within about 500 metres of bush," he said.
A fire travels faster and increases in ferocity as it moves uphill.
How can I protect my home?
"The best preparation is housekeeping," Deputy Commissioner Bolger said.
This includes keeping your garden and gutters clear of leaves, removing long grass and having hoses ready to wet down timber.
Deputy Commissioner Bolger said housefires were mainly caused by ember attacks, which could easily happen in suburban areas.
"We get that leaf litter, that bark, that stuff that gets elevated with the hot air, and that can push sometimes 500 metres to a kilometre," he said.
"Those embers can land in your garden, on your doormat, on your shade cloth, on your decking, and if left unattended, could lead to a fire."
QFES said homes should be easily accessible by fire trucks and, if you have them, water pumps and generators should be in working order.
Residents in potential danger zones should prepare a bushfire survival plan.
Bushfire survival plans should contain information including who is leaving and when, where they will go, and what they will take.
What do the emergency warnings actually mean?
QFES has developed a warning system to keep residents informed about evolving dangers, but the alerts can sometimes be confusing to follow.
When a blaze is nearby, authorities will issue an "Advice" warning.
This means there is no immediate threat, but you should stay informed and monitor conditions.
If conditions change and the danger grows, QFES will issue a "Watch and Act" alert.
At this level of warning, you will be either asked to prepare to leave or leave now.
This alert means a fire is approaching and you could be impacted or your life could come under threat.
Deputy Commissioner Bolger said at this point, you need to start taking action to protect yourself and your family.
"We don't want people waiting until the fire is on their back door — if the plan is to leave, that's what the warning is about," he said.
If the situation escalates further, authorities will declare an "Emergency Warning", meaning you are in serious danger.
Residents will either be asked to leave immediately, or if conditions have become too dangerous to do so, to seek shelter immediately.
"Either we're concerned that the roads around where you live aren't passable anymore — they might be smoke logged ... they might be blocked by the passage of fire," Deputy Commissioner Bolger said.
"You've left it a little bit too late — stay at home and protect yourself."ABC