Stay safe when exploring the Bush Capital this summer

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ACT Policing is urging all Canberrans to stay safe this summer when exploring the great outdoors.

Each year police and specialist rescue services are called out to assist hikers who are lost, injured or ill prepared for the conditions.

The ACT’s numerous national parks span more than 1,302 km2 and with so much ground to cover, large scale search efforts divert a massive amount of emergency services resources way from their core duties.

Officer in Charge of Rural Patrol Detective Acting Inspector Simon Coady said Canberrans needed to make sure they were well prepared if they were heading out for the first time.

“They don’t call it the Bush Capital for nothing, Canberrans are lucky to be surrounded by a number of amazing national parks with no shortage of activities for lovers of the outdoors,” Detective Acting Inspector Coady said.

“If after a year of quarantine, isolation and COVID-19 restrictions, you are keen to escape the city for a breath of fresh air, make sure you pack enough supplies, download the Emergency+ app and make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be home.

“You wouldn’t go skiing without all the proper equipment so why risk it when heading into the bush?

“While many people may be giving hiking a go for the first time, it is important everyone, including experienced hikers, ensure they are well prepared before setting off on an outdoor adventure.”

Daniel Iglesias, Executive Branch Manager for the ACT Parks and Conservation said that while we want people to enjoy our parks and reserves, hikers must be prepared and organised.

“There are some truly amazing walks and hikes Canberrans can enjoy over summer. Before you leave the house you need to be prepared, whether you are an experienced hiker or a novice,” Mr Iglesias said.

“Know the difficulty of your hike, check the weather forecast and let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back. Pack essentials such as a phone or locator beacon and dress to the conditions as the weather can change quickly if you’re in an alpine area. Water is the most important thing so bring plenty of it.

“Once you’re out in the bush, stay on the signposted tracks and keep an eye on the weather so you don’t get caught out.”

ACT Emergency Services Agency (ACTESA) Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said when exploring through the bush, always check weather conditions and the fire danger rating before you travel.

“Take caution when camping, driving or planning to light a cooking fire as small fires can quickly escalate into a major incident in hot and windy conditions,” ACTESA Commissioner Whelan said.

As recently as last month ACT Policing assisted in the search for two men who failed to return from a hike in Tidbinbilla.  The men had no food and were not dressed for the conditions. 

In September police also assisted in the search for two separate pairs of hikers in Tidbinbilla across two separate incidences.  Police responded to an emergency beacon from an experienced hiker who was unable to complete their walk and required assistance.

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