Your Essential Guide to Staying Safe.
It’s great to escape city life and go bushwalking, cycling, picnicking or driving in national parks and reserves. However, you need to take some precautions in these natural environments. Many parks have facilites, trails and campsites designed to make your visit easy and safe. Many other parks are remote and rugged places, weather can change quickly, rivers, lakes and the sea may be unpredictable. When visiting these wild places you need to plan ahead and be prepared. The wildlife you encounter should always be treated with respect and you should avoid approaching or feeding any native animals. When visiting parks be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of any children or others in your care. Remember to plan ahead, and choose your walks and activities to match your level of preparedness, stamina and fitness level. You will find some tips listed below and more important saftey advice in the Staying in Touch and Other Essentials pages on this site.
Planning your visit
- Check park conditions before you go. Contact the park office to ask about local conditions, tracks, creek or river water levels and fire danger.
- During hot, dry periods a Total Fire Ban may be declared in a park. During a Total Fire Ban no fires at all may be lit in national parks and reserves. Gas or electric barbeques may be used in certain circumstances – please check the Alerts pages or DFES for further information.
- In the outback its wise to have at least three people in your group. If there is an emergency, at least one can go for help, while the other stays with the injured or ill person.
- Make sure there's at least one experienced person in the group who can guide and assist others.
- Make sure your activity is something which all participants in your group are prepared for and able to do.
- Before heading out, leave full details with a relative or a responsible person of where you will be going, who is with you, what equipment you have, and when you expect to return. Online services such as Trailnote can help you notify others of your plans.
- Allow plenty of time to finish the activity in daylight, and pack extra food and water in case of unexpected delays.
- Many areas have only limited mobile phone coverage. If you intend to use a mobile phone for safety purposes, contact your phone network supplier to check the coverage in the area you intend to visit.
- For longer walks involving navigational skill, consider purchasing or borrowing an EPIRB or personal locator beacon (PLB).
- Protect your skin from sunburn by using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing and a hat.
In the park/bush
- Carry a map, keep to the tracks and stay behind any safety fences.
- Read and follow any instructions on warning signs.
- Supervise all children closely.
- Always carry sufficient water for your group. It is not safe to drink from (or rely on) creeks and streams.
- Know your route, advise friend of your plans, and let them know when you return.
- Make sure you completely extinguish all fires before leaving an area or going to bed (if camping). A small amount of glowing embers can start a huge bushfire. Heavy fines may apply if campfires or other unshielded flames are left unattended.
- Take great care near cliff edges and below cliffs – many cliffs are unstable.
- Be on the lookout for falling rocks, uneven or slippery surfaces, and cliff edges.
- Don't feed, approach or touch wildlife.
- If you want to swim in rivers or lakes, check the water depth and temperature first and never dive or jump into the water. Be careful of hidden rocks and logs, floating branches and other debris. Take of any warning signs which may warn of hazards such as waves, rips, and wildlife eg crocs
- Be aware that during nesting season some native birds may swoop – wear a hat
- If you see a snake, leave it alone and don't panic. Stand still or stamp – snakes nearly always move away when they feel footstep vibrations. Don't attempt to kill it, you could be bitten (and all snakes are protected).
- Be on the lookout for falling branches from trees, particularly when windy or during storms, and avoid camping beneath overhanging trees.
- If you encounter a flooded stream change your route or turn back. Don't attempt to cross fast-flowing streams.
Checklist for longer walks
As well as a first aid kit for the group everyone should be equipped with:
- topographic map(s) and a compass and know how to use them
- a space blanket, hat and sun protection
- warm waterproof clothing
- plastic bags for rubbish
- plenty of water and ample food
- matches and torches.