Hot tips on bushfire safety for hikers

Bushfire season has well and truly arrived. If you are planning on spending time off the beaten track it is critical to PLAN ahead, stay informed and adhere to warnings from the Rural Fire Service. Willingness to change plans might seem frustrating at first but when you are literally playing with fire, it’s just not worth the risk.

Armed with updates from the Rural Fire Service, here are some steps you can take when planning an outdoor trip in an area that has potential to be impacted by bushfire:

  • Have a backup plan for your trip. If your initial route has a chance of being at risk play it safe and switch to your Plan B.
  • Check the weather conditions before your trip. Bureau of meteorology,  Weather Zone -app’s for iphone/android and the Justweather website which is easy to understand.
  • Pack gear with the possibility of bushfire in mind: GPS beacons, face masks, thick soled hiking boots that can stand a little heat underfoot, clothing made from natural fibres. Synthetics can melt to your skin creating burns.
  • Skill up on first aid treatment for fires/fire injuries and pack the necessary equipment. You can get some tips here.
  • DON’T LIGHT FIRES IN FIRE SEASON. Take precautions to avoid unintentionally setting a fire: NO SMOKING, no camp fires and in extreme conditions no stoves of any kind.  Be sure to check with your National Parks Service before heading off.

If you do find yourself caught in a fire whilst hiking the Rural Fire Service recommends the following:

  • Report any fires to 000
  • Don’t panic and don’t try to outrun the fire
  • If you see smoke, turn back or find an alternate route
  • Find a cleared area. Look for rocks, hollows, embankments, streams or roads to protect you. Head to lower ground, avoid going uphill and don’t shelter in water tanks
  • Keep low and cover your skin with natural fibres
  • Drink water and cover your mouth with a damp cloth
  • Move to burnt ground when the fire has passed

Most importantly be informed and play it safe.  You can access more information directly from the Rural Fire Service.  This Factsheet is particularly helpful.  Stay safe and happy hiking!

For more information visit. https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/travelling-in-a-bush-fire-area

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