Windows

Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but windows are the weakest link in our homes. Because they’re fragile. Because they break.

It seems like such an obvious thing now, but I remember how shocked I was when an expert pointed out that the inside of our homes is the driest place on earth. Once a window breaks, even one ember is enough to burn the house down from the inside out.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Yet how many of us have adequate protection for our windows?

When I built my house in Warrandyte, I had to put metal mesh screens over all the windows that could be opened. But my house has double barrel windows where the top pane opens but the bottom pane is fixed. The top pane is protected by the required metal screen [basically an ordinary fly wire screen but made of metal]. The bottom pane is not.

Now, imagine a bushfire scenario. The wind is howling, and the gums are dropping branches large and small. One of those branches is blown towards the house and slams into one of my windows. The top pane may remain intact, but what of the bottom pane?

Yes. Exactly.

I solved my window problem by investing in fire resistant shutters. These shutters cover the entire window area, top pane, bottom pane and the wooden frame. They look like this:

The shutters roll up and down inside the frame [like vertical sliding doors] and are rated to protect the windows for about 20 minutes. That’s the length of time it usually takes the fire front to pass.

The regulations have been tightened up a lot since Black Saturday, and I believe that new houses in fire prone areas must have toughened glass instead of ordinary glass. But what of existing houses? As far as I know, there are no regulations about retrofitting toughened glass to houses built before 2009.

Does that mean there is no danger to those houses? Of course not.

If you live in a bushfire prone area, please think hard about your windows, and what you can do to protect them.

Stay safe.

Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

18 responses to “Windows

  • Widdershins

    When I lived in the Blue Mountains my ex and I had to install those shutters on all glazed areas of the house we were renovating, (this was in the late 90’s) but only because we were in a ‘bushfire prone’ area.
    Things like this and underground/earth-covered dwellings might be the way to go from now on.

    Like

    • acflory

      Omg?!? I had no idea that was the case in NSW. After Black Saturday, I put in a -cough- wine cellar -cough-. If this house ever burns down, I’m rebuilding underground with massive shutter across the exposed parts. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  • daleleelife101.blog

    The other that people don’t realise is the ubiquitous shadecloth is plastic and will light up fast, so should be removed at least when an area is under bushfire advice or watch and act.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Oh god yes! And bird netting on fruit trees. I don’t have much of it, but it’s definitely going to come down asap if things go pear shaped here.
      So many little things. I’m currently looking to cover the new piles of deadfall with chicken wire. I had everything burned off. Then we had a couple of big winds. Now there are branches everywhere. Picking them up and putting them in piles in open areas. They’ll burn like crazy but not under trees. Wish the council would provide something better than one green bin a week. Mine is always full of grass clippings. :/

      Like

  • DawnGillDesigns

    That seems such a sensible and practical thing to do. Thanks so much for sharing the photo and the explanation.
    Can I ask if standard domestic buildings and contents insurance would usually cover the rebuild cost of fire, or is it considered an act of god, and excluded? Over here, we obviously don’t have to worry about things such as that, but we do get a lot of flooding, and this is no longer classed as an act of god, but does affect people’s premiums, so that some policies allow for flooding to be an optional element within the policy. We as a nation seem as blind to the root cause of floods as the bulk of the Aussie nation to the root cause of the fires – everyone here paves over front gardens and back for driveways and patios, with no thought as to where the rain water (and we do have a lot!) will go. as a result the small areas of green in the streets are sodden, with the gutters and drains constantly filled. Not helped by the lack of street cleaning, so all the autumnal debris washes into the drains, blocking them. I never cease to be surprised by the lack of forethought, or the lack of planning regulations – you have to obtain planning consent to put in a driveway, and it would be very easy for each LA to insist that they had to be permeable. It would also be simple for them to insist that all greenfield site buildings have water storage tanks beneath them to assist with runoff.
    Sorry. Rant over. sending extra and apologetic hugs

    Like

    • acflory

      Rant away, Dawn. I know exactly how you feel. It’s as if the powers that be have their fingers stuck in their ears and their eyes closed tight. :/
      I’m not sure about the other states, but here in Victoria, bushfire prone suburbs have a bushfire thing/tax/levy? not sure what to call it, that’s collected as part of our rates. It was brought in after the Black Saturday bushfires that devastated us in 2009. Personally, my house insurance does cover bushfires. I’d drop it like a pile of shit if it didn’t. Trouble is, a lot of people who live in bushfire prone suburbs and small country towns can’t afford house insurance. When their houses burn, that’s it. They’re left with nothing. Literally.
      With climate change really starting to bite, and bite hard, we all have to rethink how we live here. Being out in the bush, doing a sea change to a small country town, these can no longer be viewed as ‘cheap’ alternatives.
      To live in Australia, we have to maintain the bush. That requires work and money. It also requires a change of mindset.
      Will it happen? I don’t know, but it feels like we’re at war here. We’ve never ever had to evacuate this many people from such a mammoth area before. And this is meant to be the safer, cooler part of summer??? I dread February. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • DawnGillDesigns

        I don’t want to sound heartless, and I’m obviously only commenting on UK residents her (and you know my background), but it’s been my experience that insurance is one of those things people think they can afford not to afford – if you get my drift; the number of times I had people present after a serious event meant they needed to rent somewhere whilst their home was being rebuilt – they all had (and this is way more expensive than insurance in the UK) satellite TV, overseas holidays prior to the burst pipe / flood / domestic fire that rendered their home unlivable, but had assumed that gambling on not insuring their building would be a risk worth taking for the (often less than) Β£200 p/a saving. Invariably they also hadn’t factored in that it was a legal obligation as part of their mortgages.
        I expect that insurance over with you is costlier, as Australia must have a higher proportion of claim to capita, but even so, it’s a matter of priorities, isn’t it? Very few of the properly poor people decided to cut home building insurance – they might stop their contents, on the basis that they’d be able to get new furniture, clothing etc donated or second hand in case of disaster, but never their homes. It was always the people I considered comfortably middle class who’d made the decision to drop the insurance – or fail to notify something crucial that meant they were no longer covered. Never anyone who’d previously experienced true poverty or homelessness.
        It’s terrible to see the disaster from here, I can’t imagine how heart breaking it must be when it’s actually your homeland, your bush, your wildlife. Sending hugs, and wishing I could send some of our mist and rain. x

        Like

        • acflory

          -grin- you know you just about described me there? I have house insurance but had to give up the contents insurance when money became too tight. And yes, I agree, for many, that new iPhone is more important than house insurance. Not all though. I think a lot of poorer people live in a kind of denial, the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ type thing. 😦
          For better or worse, my paranoia won’t let me rest until I’ve done everything humanly possible to avert disaster X.
          Speaking of, I heard on the news tonight that 100,000 people are being evacuated from the area where the fires are worst. And that’s only in my state.
          100,000 residents and visitors and tourists and foreigners come to enjoy our summer life style. I fear a door has slammed shut that will never open the same way again.

          Liked by 1 person

          • DawnGillDesigns

            and my mother until about 15 years ago when she met my stepfather πŸ˜‰
            She became much better off financially when she started to receive her state pension than she’d ever been in work. It’s interesting how that level of financial insecurity plays out differently for my brother and I – I’m terribly careful with money, always trying to make sure I underspend, eliminating unnecessary luxuries that many of my friends consider essentials, never wanting to be in the position of homelessness or receiving the church charity box, whereas my brother lives in a much more carefree and for the moment manner. However – I disagree with you on one thing – doing everything possible isn’t paranoia; it’s trying to keep a semblance of control over a situation that I have no doubt would strike at the base of your sanity. Sending positive thoughts and wishes, and hugs as always.x

            Like

          • acflory

            Hugs received and returned with interest. πŸ™‚
            I’ve always had an odd relationship with money. As refugees who arrived in Australia with nothing, we had quite a few very poor years. Then Dad got a job as a draughtsman and life became easier, but Mum still bought all our clothes from op. shops. Finances continued to fluctuate during my marriage and beyond so tightening my belt kind of comes naturally. I’d love to live without worrying about money, but I’m not scared of being poor. Then again, being homeless in my old age?…that’s something else…

            Liked by 1 person

  • Bette A. Stevens

    Love and prayers for all! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  • jilldennison

    I’m so glad you purchased those shutters! Keep safe, my friend. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Scottie

    Hello Meeka. I am glad you added the shutters. I hope you never need them but I want you safe. Here in Florida we also need shutters on our windows, but for hurricanes. Many people do not do so and it can cause them terrible losses. There are so many styles and even low cost alternatives it doesn’t make sense not to have them. Hugs

    Like

    • acflory

      We’re still at the denial stage here, Scottie. The majority of people simply don’t recognize the danger. Or they think it will happen to someone else. Or they think it won’t happen again for…oh, 20 years, 30 years… Shortsighted. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  • Candy Korman

    Since I purchased my soon-to-be-new-home (a top floor apartment with the rights to build a little deck in my outdoor space), I’ve learned a great deal about fire and urban rooftops. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have smiled at the thought of putting a little hibachi grill (or a big gas grill) up on my roof. I recoil in horror and tell them one of the least known/most obvious things about about my city. It’s illegal to cook on rooftops BECAUSE ROOF MEMBRANES ARE FLAMMABLE, very flammable. One spark, one ember from a grill or cigarette or candle can fall between the pavers (or planks of decking) and start a fire that can spread across the entire structure. Between that, and lessons in fire egress, and how much (actually how little) flammable materials are allowed in roof & top floor construction, the romantic notions of friends are falling by the wayside.

    Fire is serious. Bush fires, house fires and the rest, need to be taken seriously. As you’ve pointed out, window design needs to catch up with the changing environmental needs of your region. The preliminary work on my roof is done. Construction will soon begin and fire safety is critical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      That’s awful, Candy! Why aren’t people told? I mean, yes, they’re told when they build something, but I’ll bet that lots of people do smoke up on the roof tops without a clue as to how dangerous it is.

      To be honest, this post was triggered by an interview I saw with someone who had lost her house. She evacuated and was shell shocked when she returned and found her house gone. She couldn’t understand why it would burn – brick house, no grass or trees around it. I felt so sorry for her, as I figured her windows had blown. But most of us don’t think of windows as ‘dangerous’. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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