Whether you are heading to the beach, the bush, or the outback, here are a few things to consider and plan for before you go.
Local swimming holes offer sweet relief from the blistering summer heat, cold glistening water and hangouts with mates – surrounded by the screeching of cicadas. This is the time to be found drifting gently in quiet lagoons, splashing in ponds and dams, and chilling under magnificent waterfalls. Sadly, behind the scenes this perfect summer image is tainted. Statistics tell us that every year visitors to our waterways are drowning … here are a few simple ways to stay safe at swimming holes, while still having fun!
We Are Explorers
Sun Safety Queensland
Did you know anyone can get skin cancer? Skin cancer doesn’t just affect older people or fair skinned or people with red hair! The simple fact is that anyone of any age can develop skin cancer.
Not just Slip, Slop, Slap!
Your Summer Guide to Sunscreen
Beat the Heat
Playing and exercising safely in hot weather
UV Exposure and Heat Illness Guide
Helping to keep organised sport and physical activity safe, healthy and fun for all
Heat Related Illness
During very hot and extreme heat conditions, people are at greater risk of health problems. These can be specific heat-related illnesses or a worsening of existing medical problems.
Pick out the best route up a mountain whether you see one; look for the best fords in the river, even if you are never likely to cross it; keep your eye open for good campsites: if you are passing through the gorge of a river, by road or rail, try to figure out how you would have tackled it on foot in its natural state. Note the character of ridges and valleys, and especially note prominent objects so that you will recognise them when you see them again; keep looking back on your route so as to familiarise yourself with what you will see on the return journey.
A.P. Harper, Camping and Bushcraft in New Zealand for Beginners, 1945
New Zealand Resource from Wilderlife
A collection of resources to help you decide how best to leave your trip intentions with somebody responsible – where you are going, what you are doing, emergency contacts and so on; or to create your own Trip Intentions Form.
Trip Intentions (website)
Bugle (iPhone app)
Let Someone Know Before You Go (AdventurePro)
Get Home Safe (Smartphone app)
Trip safety – what you can do to stay safe in the bush (Bush Search & Rescue Victoria)
Outdoor Information Sheet (Victoria Police)
Trip Intention Form (NSW Parks & Wildlife)
Adventurous Journey Intentions Sheet (Duke of Edinburgh Australia)
NZ Outdoor Intentions Form (NZ Mountain Safety Council)
Route Intention Form (Tramping New Zealand)
Outdoors Intentions for Land-based Activities (Adventuresmart NZ)
Queensland has spectacular wilderness areas perfect for bushwalking, mountain biking, canoeing, camping or picnics, etc. Our National Parks and State Forests, in particular, provide wonderful outdoor recreation experiences. Be prepared if you plan to spend some time in the bush.
- Plan your hike or ride or paddle. Always tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. Let them know when you return safely.
- Check the weather forecast and plan for expected changes in weather such as tropical storms or extremes in hot or cold temperatures depending on the location or the season.
- Check the length and the degree of difficulty of your planned trip. Allow plenty of time to complete the trip, to see the sights and to experience the bush along the way. Harder and longer trips may require more experience and skills, better fitness and local knowledge.
- When walking, riding, paddling or exploring outdoors carry and drink plenty of water. Drinking water taken from a stream or lake should be boiled first before it is drunk.
- Wear sturdy shoes and socks, hat, comfortable clothing and insect repellent.
- Be self-reliant. Other handy items for long trips include food, warm clothing, first aid supplies, matches and a map. Take a tent and sleeping bag if you are planning to stay overnight.
- Never walk, ride or paddle alone. Read maps and signs carefully. Stay on the track.
- Never dive into a rock pool, creek or lake without checking the depth of the water and for any hidden dangers below the surface such as rocks and logs.
- Stay away from cliff edges and waterfalls and stay behind safety barriers. Rocks can be slippery when wet.
- Do not feed, approach or touch native animals.
- Be very careful with fire. Use a fuel stove for cooking instead of lighting a fire. Wear thermal clothing to keep warm rather than light a fire
See also: Trip Intentions
Queensland’s beaches are one of our most popular outdoor recreation areas. If you enjoy swimming or surfing you must take care as our beaches can be dangerous.
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags – not outside them. The flags mark the safest place to swim and the area where lifesavers and lifeguards patrol.
- Always swim under supervision or with a friend. An adult who can swim should always accompany children into the water.
- Read and obey the warning signs on beaches and beach access points. They explain the rules of the beach and provide warnings of potential dangers and other useful information for you to enjoy a safe day at the beach.
- Alcohol and drugs impair judgement, so never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Never swim in darkness.
- Avoid contact with any sea creatures you might encounter at the beach. While they may look harmless some may inflict a sting or a bite.
- Be mindful of objects that might be present below the water surface. Enter the water gradually – never run, jump or dive into shallow water.
Southern Cross University
Because of Australia’s climate and population distribution, most people access coastal beaches or inland bodies of water for aquatic recreational or sporting activities. Swimming pools, both public and private, also provide opportunities for aquatic activities. Swimming is a popular leisure, fitness participation, and competitive activity. Therefore, aquatic safety is a national priority.
The Australian government also recognises the seasonal requirements for snow safety and has invested in programs and provides grants to organisations enabling snow (alpine) safety.
Together, aquatic and snow safety strategies are part of the Australia Government’s National Recreation Safety Program – Water and Snow Safety
- Because of Australia’s climate, population distribution and cultural affinity for aquatic sport and recreation, governments uniquely place water safety as a public priority.
- Snow safety is a seasonal component of the National Recreational Safety Program.
Clearinghouse for Sport
Lifejackets are a vital piece of safety equipment that could save your life. The best idea is to make sure you wear it. Put the lifejacket on as part of your pre-trip preparation. It is a lot harder to put a lifejacket on in the water during an emergency.
Queensland’s outback is a vast, wonderful and rewarding place for four wheel driving and trail horse rides, etc. Our remote wilderness areas have few towns and facilities (with large distances between them), so plan your trip and be prepared.
- When planning each day of your trip spend some time to calculate how long it will take to drive or ride between destinations. Be realistic about how far you can drive or ride in a day.
- Inform family and friends or the local police of your travel plans.
- Always carry current maps and other navigational equipment.
- Check facilities, road conditions, and the availability of water and/or fuel before departing on your
- outback adventure.
- Take extra care when driving four-wheel drive vehicles. For example, drive at reduced speeds on unsealed roads and never attempt to drive through swollen or flooded rivers and creeks.
- Always carry a spare tyre, tools and water. If travelling into remote areas off major highways take
- food, extra fuel and tyres. Do not overload your vehicle and never carry spare fuel inside an enclosed vehicle.
- Consider taking appropriate emergency communication equipment, such as satellite phones.
- Obey road closure signs and stay on recognised routes.
- Ensure gas bottles and camping equipment are current and undamaged.
- Be cautious with campfires. Bushfires in desert areas can spread very quickly. If you become aware of a bushfire be prepared to evacuate the area immediately.
- If you have trouble with your vehicle wait with the vehicle for help to come to you, where there is shade and protection from the heat.
- On outback roads wildlife and livestock sometimes graze on the roadside and can stray onto the road. Be very careful when driving at sunrise and sunset when animals are most active. If an animal crosses in front of you brake gently – do not swerve wildly to avoid it.
- During daylight hours always drive with your headlights on low beam, as outback conditions can make it difficult to see oncoming vehicles.
To drink or not to drink?
Dehydration is a major risk associated with prolonged, strenuous, outdoor activities which can include professional and recreational water sports. The risk is compounded in hot weather, and if not managed appropriately can have major consequences.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is simply loss of body fluid, primarily through sweating.
Our bodies contain, on average, 60% water, 40% of which is stored in muscle.
As little as a 2% decrease in body fluid can result in dehydration which will have a detrimental effect on sport performance.
In an exercise situation profuse sweating and rapid expiration can cause dehydration.
Excessive sweating does not only cause fluid loss but also a decrease in the level of electrolytes, mainly sodium and potassium. Sodium is essential for fluid retention and potassium is responsible for nerve and muscle function. If the levels of either or both become sub-optimal the body is unable to function efficiently and problems can occur, ranging from muscle cramping to, confusion and in extreme cases, heart and kidney failure and even death.
Signs of Dehydration
- Dry mouth
- Reduced urine output
- Concentrated (dark colour) urine
Management of Dehydration
The foremost treatment for dehydration is prevention.
On average our bodies require 2 – 2½ litres of fluid per day to maintain adequate hydration levels.
Sweating, increased activity and heat stress will cause fluid loss therefore fluid intake should equal or preferably exceed the amount lost.
An adequate intake of water will be sufficient to prevent dehydration in normal circumstances, however in hot weather, or during periods of increased physical activity where there is a danger of extreme dehydration occurring, water alone will be inappropriate. The body requires sodium in order to retain fluid so therefore a higher intake of fluids with the correct balance of electrolytes and carbohydrates, in the form of sugar, will be required.
It should be noted that fluids which are high in sugar are not ideal as these could potentially worsen the degree of dehydration, therefore fruit juices and some Sports and Energy drinks should be avoided if possible.
Alcohol and caffeine containing drinks are not ideal as these will only increase the level of dehydration because of their diuretic effect.
Thirst is one of the last manifestations of dehydration and as exercise blunts the thirst mechanism it is therefore essential to be conscious of the need to rehydrate during periods of physical activity.
Rita Walker, Training Consultant, HMT Consulting.
Most fatigue-related accidents occur during normal sleeping hours, and the more severe the crash, the more likely it is that the driver or drivers were fatigued. Fatigue is a likely factor in almost one third of single-vehicle crashes in rural areas.
The five basic rules of the Outdoor Safety Code make it easier to ensure you can enjoy yourself in the outdoors and have great stories to share at the end. The rules were devised by outdoor experts to help keep you safe on your chosen adventure.
Preparation is critical, and safety and enjoyment go hand in hand. Never mind if you’re planning a half-day fishing trip or a multi-day bushwalk. Risk is not always measured by the length of a trip or the particular challenges of a destination.
Follow these five basic rules, and you’ll be off to a flying start on your next adventure.
Plan your trip
Seek local knowledge, plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.
Tell someone your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.
Be aware of the weather
Weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and plan for weather changes.
Know your limits
Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.
Take sufficient supplies
Make sure you have enough food, equipment and emergency rations for the worst case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication.
The 5 safety points above have been created through expert consultation and are the core to all outdoor safety practices. All of the points can be expanded upon depending on your specific recreation and geographic location, so use them as a starting point and make sure you know all you can about your activity before you head out.
Updated advice and procedures following the publication of a new snakebite study. The Australian Snakebite Project.
The study has prompted the RFDS to reverse previous long-standing advice about the importance of identifying the colour and type of snake.
“Staying in the area after an attack can be dangerous and recent advances in medication mean we can now treat any snakebite with a generic polyvalent anti-venom, so identification is no longer necessary.”
Royal Flying Doctor Service
Be prepared with this practical first-aid guide for everything from blisters to heart attacks.
Source: Australian Geographic Outdoor
Wilderness first aid is the knowledge and ability to effectively address injury, illness, or emergency outside of modern facilities, out in the wild. Skills could include knowing how to dress a wound, treat a burn or bite, or set an injured limb. These are important skills that can save your life or the lives of other outdoor enthusiasts.
See also First Aid for Emergency Situations
A list of companies that provide first aid training to the outdoor sector.
Please contact them directly for information on course schedules, unit standards and prices.