Parks and forests are wild places with hidden dangers for the unwary visitor. It is vital to pay close attention to signs that warn of local dangers. Do not expect to be warned of every possible danger. Follow these tips to stay safe and have an enjoyable visit:
Tell friends or family where you are going and when you expect to return. If you change your plans, inform them. Plan to complete your walk well before dark. Never walk alone - walk with family or friends. Make sure your camping equipment, vehicle and boat are in good working condition. Take a first aid kit and wet weather gear.
Take care near water
Swim with extreme caution. Creeks have hidden dangers and swift currents. National park beaches are not patrolled. People have been seriously injured or killed diving into pools, lakes, rivers and the sea. Supervise your children around water. Take care to avoid marine stingers in tropical waters. Do not enter water where crocodiles may live.
Stay on the track
You may get lost if you leave the road or walking track. Take a map if possible and follow markers and signs carefully. Let someone responsible know your plans in case you get lost.
Watch your step
Stay well back from cliff edges and waterfalls. Cliff edges may crumble and rocks near waterfalls may be slippery. Always stay behind safety fences to avoid tragedy. Carry extra food and drinking water in case your walk takes longer than expected.
Be wary of wild animals
Stay well back from goannas, crocodiles, snakes, dingoes, cassowaries, feral pigs, cattle, horses and buffaloes. People have been seriously injured or killed by wild animals. Be very careful about approaching any injured animal, such as kangaroos or possums. They are likely to bite and scratch if you attempt to touch or move them.
Avoid bites, stings and scratches
Wear protective clothing and insect repellent to protect yourself from stings, scratches and insect bites, especially bites from ticks. Detour around snakes; never provoke them.
Take care near fire
Supervise children near open fires. Always put the fire out with water, not sand. Sand retains heat and children have been severely burnt when fires have been covered with sand.
Beware of bushfires
If there is a bushfire, follow the track to the nearest road, beach, lake or creek for refuge. Large logs, a ditch or burnt ground can also provide protection in some situations. Avoid areas of heavy fuel, such as deep leaf litter or thick vegetation, and stay low to the ground where the air is coolest and contains the least smoke. In high fire danger conditions, walking tracks and other areas may be closed. It is essential for your safety to follow the instructions on signs in these conditions. If you see a bushfire, please alert a ranger or the police as soon as possible.
Wear a hat, shirt and sunscreen, even on overcast days, to avoid sunburn. Drink frequently to avoid dehydration.
Think before you drink
Even mountain streams can be contaminated by giardia and other organisms that cause diarrhoea. Take your own supply of water if possible. If you must use water from creeks or lakes, boil it for at least five minutes, filter it or treat it chemically before you drink.