17 December 2018

ACT Parks and Conservation's tips for a safe summer

| Lachlan Roberts
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With local swimming holes like Pine Island Reserve recently receiving a deluge of rain, authorities warn the water might be a little volatile. Photo: ACT Government.

With local swimming holes like Pine Island Reserve recently receiving a deluge of rain, authorities warn the water might be a little volatile. Photo: ACT Government.

Summer is a great time of year to get out and explore nature but with soaring temperatures expected this year, ACT Parks and Conservation has given Canberrans and visitors tips on how to stay safe when swimming in local waterways or bushwalking in parks and reserves.

ACT Parks and Conservation manager Brett McNamara is reminding the community it’s best to be fully prepared when taking a refreshing dip in local rivers or out hiking in one of the many reserves.

“It is a wonderful time of year and we don’t want to deter people from going out in nature but be prepared with a few simple precautions and you can stay safe over the summer period,” he said.

With local swimming holes at Murrumbidgee River, Uriarra Crossing, Cotter Bend, Casuarina Sands, Kambah Pool and Pine Island recently receiving a deluge of rain, Mr McNamara warns the water might be a little volatile.

“Given the last couple of weeks with those storm surges we have had, those favourite swimming spots that people might have accessed last year may be a different environment this year,” he said. “We need to be mindful that rivers are very dynamic that are constantly changing so enter the water with caution.”

Mr McNamara strongly warned Canberrans of the danger of mixing swimming and alcohol, reminding the community of the imminent risks.

“Never, ever, ever mix alcohol and water! It is a lethal combination,” he said. “There have been tragedies in past summers when people drink and then go for a swim. It can quickly turn into tragedy.”

Simple tips for swimming this summer:

  • Check the conditions: Beware of fast flowing water, submerged objects and always check the water depth before entering.
  • Signal for help: If you get into trouble, stay calm and signal for help. Try floating on your back and let the current take you to shore.
  • Swim with a buddy: Not only is it more fun swimming with a friend but having someone else around while swimming can provide help in sticky situations.
  • Don’t drink and swim: Stay out of the water if you have alcohol in your system – it’s not worth the risk.

The ACT Parks and Conservation’s big tip when it comes to bushwalking in the coming months is to be prepared for whatever mother nature brings your way and not to rely on technology.

Mr McNamara said the case of hikers William McCarthy and Francisca Boterhoven De Haan, who spent six nights in bushland west of Nowra last week, was a timely reminder of the importance of pre-planning.

“If you end up being geographically embarrassed, you cannot use your mobile phone to keep you warm, you can’t eat it and if it goes flat there is no way of recharging,” he said. “Don’t rely on technology when you head into the mountains.”

And as Mr McNamara likes to say, “there is no such thing as bad weather but just a poor choice of clothing”.

“Always be prepared with weather changes. What might be a beautiful summer day can quickly turn into a thunderstorm that afternoon.”

Simple tips for bushwalking this summer:

  • Plan your walk: make sure you’re aware of how hard the walk is. If you’re comfortable with what to expect then it won’t throw any challenging surprises. Always check the weather forecast beforehand.
  • Tell somebody: let someone know where you’re headed and when you’re expected to return. If you get lost or hurt yourself they will be able to raise the alarm.
  • Stay on track: for your own safety, stick to the signposted tracks. This is to also protect the landscape and native animals who don’t like to be disturbed.
  • Bring the essentials: a mobile phone is handy, but if you’re headed remotely, consider taking a locator beacon. The most important thing to bring though is plenty of water.
  • Dress to the conditions: always wear closed-toe footwear and wear appropriate clothing. A waterproof jacket is lightweight and often comes in handy.

For more information about swimming spots and bushwalking trails this summer, click here.

ACT Parks and Conservation is also encouraging Canberrans to celebrate our local natural assets by taking a ‘summer snap’ of their favourite swimming and bushwalking spot. Click here for more information on the Summer Snaps competition.

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