Visitor safety tips in parks
Stay safe and get the most out of your park visit by preparing for natural hazards and other outdoor risks in Victoria’s parks. You are responsible for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.
Make sure you have an enjoyable visit by following these simple tips.
1. Research your trip and make the right choices
Match your walks and activities to your abilities, fitness and stamina. Wear good walking shoes and protective clothing for all activities . Always carry water with you. Know where you’re going – look up the park in your favourite mapping app, however, be aware that many parks are outside mobile range. Its best to have printed or offline maps for more remote or difficult walks, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. Consider how weather or seasonal conditions may have impacted track condition. Check the park pages on this website for park and track closures and information about walk duration and difficulty. For longer trips, tell someone else where you are going and when you expect to return. Specific tips for hiking safely can be found here.
2. Be sun smart
Check the Bureau of Meteorology’s daily UV Alert.When the UV Index reaches 3 and above, make sure you wear a broad brimmed hat, long sleeves, sunglasses, and apply sunscreen every 2 hours. Try and stay in the shade during the middle of the day when UV levels reach their maximum. For more information on how to protect yourself from sunburn, visit www.sunsmart.com.au.
3. Check the weather forecast
Weather conditions can change quickly. Always bring protective clothing in case the weather changes. For weather forecasts and warnings, check the Bureau of Meteorology. Check for changes to conditions in the park you plan to visit before you leave. Some parks may close due to severe weather events.
4. Drink plenty of water
Always carry enough water to keep hydrated while exercising, hiking, camping or four-wheel driving. Not all parks provide drinking water, so if you run out of water, or cannot carry enough water with you for your entire trip, you may need to drink from natural water sources. Drinking untreated water such as creek water, bore water, or sometimes even rainwater, can lead to illnesses. Find out more about drinking from natural water sources.
5. Be bushfire aware
The warmer months are the perfect time to experience regional Victoria. However, Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas of the world If you are hiking or camping between November to April in an area that is heavily forested, has thick bush or long, dry grass, or coastal areas with lots of plant life – you are at risk of fire. Follow these bushfire safety tips to ensure that your experience is safe and enjoyable. Familiarise yourself with important bushfire safety information. Check www.emergency.vic.gov.au for information about current fires and for Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans. Parks may be closed on days of Catastrophic or Extreme Fire Danger Rating or on days of Total Fire Ban.
6. Allergies and bites
Visitors allergic to insect stings, including those with a history of anaphylaxis, should come completely prepared to reduce the likelihood of an incident. Always wear protective footwear, long trousers and long sleeved shirts to avoid insect bites.
7. Beat the bite
Mosquitoes can carry diseases that may be passed on to people through mosquito bites.
- Wear long, loose fitting clothes outdoors.
- Use mosquito repellents containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin.
- Limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about.
- Use ‘knockdown’ fly sprays.
- Sleep under mosquito nets treated with insecticides if you are sleeping in an untreated tent or out in the open.
- Mosquito coils can be effective in small outdoor areas where you gather to sit or eat.
Examples of mosquito-borne viruses include Murray Valley encephalitis virus, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. Periods of heavy rainfall or floods can lead to ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes, even in non-tropical areas. Visit page and Department of Health page for more information.
8. Look up
When out and about in our parks, be aware that trees and limbs may fall unpredictably. Trees can drop limbs, or entire trees can fall, without warning and there is no way of determining when. Be aware that it may be dangerous to park your car and picnic under trees as limbs can swing out beyond the drip line (the edge of the canopy) of a tree. Don’t camp under trees as limbs may fall. Take extra care in hot or windy weather or during severe weather events as these can be particularly dangerous. Observe all warning signage and stay well away from trees that appear to be dead or have dead limbs.
9. Play it safe around the water
When the weather gets hot, our beaches, lakes and rivers across the state are great places to swim, play, paddle and have fun in the water. However, it's important to be aware of the risks of swimming in nature whether it's at the beach, in a lake, river or near a waterfall. Do not jump off piers and jetties and observe all safety signage and barriers. Only swim where permitted and do not swim by yourself. When paddling or boating, make sure you wear a lifejacket and check local tidal and weather conditions. For more safety tips and info, visit www.watersafety.vic.gov.au.
10. Stay on the track
Fences and barriers are there for a reason – to keep you safe and to protect our environment. Climbing barriers to get a perfect selfie or to look for a better view can lead to serious injury. Walking off track damages sensitive vegetation, can disturb Aboriginal culture heritage artefacts, compacts the ground and can spread plant diseases. The reasons are bigger than you.
In the event of an emergency, call Triple Zero 000 or 112 to access police and emergency services. Be aware that you may travel out of mobile phone range. Many of our parks feature emergency markers, which are special green signs with a unique code on them so emergency responders can pinpoint your exact location.
12. Leave your drone at home
Flying a remote piloted aircraft (drone) in parks can disturb wildlife and annoy other visitors. Recreational use of drones by the general public is not permitted on Parks Victoria managed land. Visitors who fly drones may be fined.
Commercial filming with drones) on Parks Victoria managed land requires a permit. For information about RPAS and permits, visit our Commercial RPAS and Drones Filming and Photography Permit application guidelines page.
13. Be aware of storms and floods
We don’t want the rain to dampen your enthusiasm for nature but planning appropriately for storm and flood conditions (including having multiple options) will mean a safer and more enjoyable time. Be sure to check for weather conditions. If wet and windy weather is on its way, then you need to plan what this means for your visit and avoid areas that have been recently impacted by storms. Check out our storms and floods safety tips.