Risk Bites Issue 5: Planning a bushwalk
With the warm summer months ahead, many of you will be interested in completing bushwalks or other outdoor activities with members of your Congregation. This is an excellent way to connect with the community and can be a fun and exciting experience for all involved. You could even start a Congregation hiking group!
Before you head out on an adventure, there are a number of steps you should take to ensure the safety of yourself and everyone participating.
It’s only a simple walk in the bush, what could go wrong?
Many of us have likely gone on a spontaneous outdoor adventure before without having any problems, so why spend time planning? From sprained ankles to snake encounters, there are many incidents you should be prepared for before heading out.
Common Bushwalking Incidents
- Sprains and strains
- Extreme heat / heat exhaustion
- Snake and spider encounters
- Getting lost
- Sudden changes in weather (e.g., flooding)
Think Before You TREK!
The NSW Police Force and National Parks and Wildlife Service have created a bush safety initiative to help keep people safe when adventuring into the bush.
Take adequate supplies of food, water, navigation and first aid equipment
Packing enough food and water is essential when completing a bushwalk, especially in the hot summer months. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are common, even on short walks. While you can ask participants to bring their own, it is recommended that the group leader carry some extra supply in case someone forgets or the walk takes longer than predicted due to unforeseen circumstances (injury, navigation issues).
Register your planned route and tell friends and family when you expect to return.
You should always tell someone who is not participating what your plans are and when you expect to return. That way, if something goes wrong and you do not return, a search can be initiated for your group. If you live in the Blue Mountains, you can complete a Trip Intention Form – see the link at the bottom of this page for more information.
Emergency beacon (PLB’s) are available free of charge from NSW Police Force and NPWS.
PLBs are devices that send information about your location using GPS to police when activated, which can authorities in finding you in the event of an emergency. If you do not have access to a PLB, other free technology such as the Find my Friends app can be downloaded to share your location. Check the mobile coverage in the area you are headed.
Keep to your planned route and follow the map and walking trails.
Diverting from the scheduled plan may seem tempting at times (is that a waterfall I can hear in the distance?), but it is always best to stick to your plan and to the marked trails. If a participant needs to wander off the marked trail briefly (nature calls!), they should always leave their pack on the edge of the trail to provide an indication of where they entered the bush.
Using the information above and additional recommendations from Bushwalking NSW, we’ve prepared a checklist to help you prepare to head out into nature. We recommend you print a copy of this checklist and keep it on record for your next bushwalking or outdoor adventure activity.
Bushwalking & Outdoor Adventure Activity Checklist
Before the Activity, have you…
|Completed a walk-through or “test run” of the trail to assess difficulty and safety?|
|Documented the details of the activity and the potential risks associated with it?|
|Printed a sign-in sheet for participants that includes the details of the activity?|
|Told someone who is not participating where you are going and how long you are expected to be gone for?|
|Checked the weather forecast and prepared accordingly?|
Recommended Materials to Pack:
|Basic first-aid kit|
|Plenty of water|
|Emergency beacon (PLB) or cell phone|
By taking these simple precautionary measures, you can be confident that you have put the safety of yourself and your participants first!