Stay safe this summer
It’s the perfect time to get out into nature.
But do you know how to keep yourself safe, or how to look after your friends or family?
If you are unfamiliar with Victorian parks or natural spaces, you might not know what the dangers are.
For most of us, we have not been able to visit nature because of COVID-19, so we should remind ourselves of how to go out safely.
Parks Victoria has rules in place to protect you. If you do not follow them, you risk injury.
You could also damage the environment.
Stay safe in Victoria’s parks
Plan ahead. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to make sure you have a good time and safely make it home.
- Book ahead where possible and consider using a licensed tour operator. This will ensure there is space for you and you will be looked after.
- Be patient and kind to park rangers and other visitors.
- Stay on marked trails and dispose of rubbish in bins if provided, or take it home with you. Your goal is to leave no trace that you were there.
- Do not feed or touch animals.
- When bushwalking or hiking, know how far you can comfortably travel, and get back before dusk.
- Carry at least two litres of water, some food and a first aid kit.
- Wear sturdy walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Pack a waterproof jacket in case of rain.
- Bring a fully charged phone. Take a photo of a map before leaving home.
- Avoid camping or parking your car under trees. Branches can fall and hurt you.
- Keep your loud music at home. Don’t disturb people or animals.
- If there is a fireplace at your campsite, bring your own firewood.
Very crowded parks can be dangerous
If the carpark is full, it means the park is full too. You should visit somewhere else.
- If you try to fit in by parking on the roadside, you could make it more dangerous for everyone. Cars can damage bushland, block paths and roads, and stop emergency services from getting in when they are needed.
- Coastal destinations within 1.5 hours of Melbourne will be full by 10am, so go early or have a backup plan if it is already busy when you arrive.
Stay safe in and around water
Water is more dangerous than it looks, and people tend to think they are better swimmers than they are. So be prepared when visiting a beach, lake or river.
- Only swim where allowed. Do not swim by yourself. Look for signs and do what they say. Do not cross barriers.
- There may be strong currents in the water you do not see. Choose a spot on land and stay close to it, so you can be sure you are not being swept away.
- It is not safe to swim under or near waterfalls. At a waterfall, you can be pushed under by the force of the water, and there may be hidden rocks or objects. Do not jump from the top of the waterfalls, you could be trapped underwater and drown.
- Do not jump off piers and jetties. You do not know what is under the water. It could be deeper than you think or hiding objects or rocks.
Stay safe around fire
Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world.
That means it is easy for fires to grow and spread quickly and dangerously. 10% of bushfires are caused by campfires. bushfires cause significant risk to natural habitat and wildlife. Only light a campfire in the fireplaces provided. You may not build your own firepit.
- Never leave a campfire unattended. Put it out with plenty of water. Only leave it when it is cool to touch.
- Before visiting, make sure you understand the risk of bushfire and what you will do in an emergency. Check weather conditions, fire restrictions and warnings.
- Download the VicEmergency app. You can use it to set up watch zones for areas you are visiting, so you will be warned if something happens.
- Check the Parks Victoria website before you leave home for the latest park conditions.
- Look after yourself. Do not expect a ranger, emergency services or anyone else to tell you when to leave. They may not find you. Leave early.