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Bushfire safety advice for bushwalkers


Safety advice that may help bushwalkers to survive should they be caught in a bushfire has been included in a revised version of the Parks and Wildlife Service's safety information booklet, 'Before You Walk'.

Acting Minister for the Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts, Jim Cox, said the fire safety information is aimed at improving the understanding of fire behaviour and providing tips on how to shelter from the deadly radiant heat of a bushfire.

"Thankfully bushwalkers being confronted with bushfires in isolated locations is a rare occurrence but on particular days during summer there is the potential for fast-moving fires to pose a risk to walkers," said Mr Cox.

"There are a number of things walkers can do to seek shelter from fire and all of these actions would certainly increase their chances of survival in such a situation."

Mr Cox said that this information for bushwalkers will complement the excellent information already available from the Tasmania Fire Service about preparing one's home and the decision to stay and defend or leave early.

"While we hope that bushwalkers never find themselves in this situation, it is necessary to provide advice that may help someone to survive.

"A key point to keep in mind is that while the information provided could certainly help in surviving a bushfire, it is far better to avoid bushfire situations wherever possible."

The bushfire safety information includes:
· Check the weather forecast before leaving home. If hot, dry and windy conditions are forecast, plan your trip carefully. You may need to change or adapt your itinerary.
· Let someone responsible know when and where you plan to walk and camp before leaving and use the logbooks to record your trip intentions
· Do not run from an approaching fire unless to a clearly indicated path of escape.
· Do not try to out-run the fire uphill as fires travel faster uphill. Look for areas that are flat and contain very little vegetation.
· Seek shelter from the fire. This shelter can include; a running stream, wet gully, lakes and the ocean. Other potential shelter areas are rocky outcrops or open areas with little or no vegetation.
· Stay in your chosen shelter until the fire has passed and cover any exposed skin with clothing, soft earth, anything at hand to shield you from the radiant heat. Keep low and breathe air close to the ground where it is cooler and contains less smoke.

The booklet 'Before You Walk' is available can be downloaded from the PWS website at www.parks.tas.gov.au