VicPol Corporate

The Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad (SAR) has created this page to provide people with information about outdoor and bush safety. Victoria Police recommends people always plan for outdoors activities. Always leave a trip intention form with someone who can raise the alarm if you do not make it back in time. The squad recommend people always pack extra food, water and clothes for inclement conditions as you never know when the weather might change.

Trip intentions form

Filling out a trip intentions form could save your life. The form should be completed and left with a reliable friend, family member or responsible authority. The contact person you nominate will raise the alarm if you haven't returned and/or contacted them by the time indicated on the form.

Plan your trip

Know your limitations

  • physical, medical, experience, skills for area
  • travel within you ability and knowledge of area

Have a trip intention plan

  • leave a copy in your vehicle and with a reliable person
  • fill out trip intentions books if available
  • notify that person if you change your plans

Water

  • always carry sufficient water for trip - day and overnight trips
  • carry more water than you will need, plan for emergencies
  • stay hydrated and do not rely on creeks unless you have reliable information

Food

  • carry sufficient for trip and pack extra in case of emergencies

Clothing

  • dress for conditions, bring extra and have wet weather clothing available
  • always have enough to cover you for the worst-case scenario
  • weather conditions in wilderness environments are sometime unpredictable

Equipment

Always have a map and compass. GPS and mobile phones help but they do not replace experience.

Bushwalking clubs are a good way to advance your experience and knowledge.

Weather

Always check a current weather report but do not rely on it, plan for worst-case scenario by carrying extra food, water, clothing and equipment.

Suggested equipment list

  1. suitable backpack
  2. map (current) and compass – GPS (extra batteries) learn how to use before leaving on trip
  3. headlamp, spare batteries and bulb
  4. whistle
  5. correct clothing – seek advice outdoor stores, bushwalking clubs
  6. extra clothing
  7. extra food and water
  8. have correct footwear – wear in before long bushwalks
  9. waterproof matches and container
  10. candle/fire starter
  11. pocketknife
  12. first aid kit – individual and group
  13. tent or bivvy bag
  14. large rubbish bag for emergency shelter and keeping equipment dry in you pack
  15. Note book and pencil
  16. sunglasses/sun hat/sunscreen
  17. mobile phone - Be aware it will not always have coverage
  18. Emergency Position Indicating Beacon EPIRB 406

Common factors which contribute to persons being lost

  1. planning, lack of planning or no planning of trip
  2. terrain, hazards such as cliffs, rivers which may delay or cause injury
  3. weather, poor weather in area of search, hypothermia or hyperthermia
  4. equipment, poor equipment - failure of or inappropriate for area
  5. ability, over confidant – skill ability not proven for particular terrain
  6. decision-making, lack of leadership within party - leading to poor decisions. Once lost walking in one direction believing they will come across civilization eventually
  7. fatigue, leading to poor decisions or injury
  8. physical ability, poor physical condition
  9. lack of food or water, contributing to fatigue and poor decision making
  10. medical, preexisting or accident during trip
  11. technology, over reliance in technology EG GPS flat batteries / mobile phones - no coverage
  12. underestimating route, causing delay and/or unable to identify terrain hazards
  13. no map / compass, contributing to disorientation of person/s

What to do if you become lost

  • stop and think
  • stay calm
  • recheck navigation and map
  • re-track steps a short distance may assist. Locate your last known point if possible
  • gain some height may assist in orientation
  • if above does not help STAY WHERE YOU ARE
  • find shelter stay warm and dry
  • attempt to make your position visible to searchers land and air. For example, fire or bright clothing in open area that can be seen by air searchers
  • if you are in a group stay together, never separate
  • be aware it can take a considerable time for rescuers to reach you so your priority is to remain warm and dry, ration your food and water if necessary

If you are lost or require help phone Triple Zero (000)

Reviewed 13 March 2019

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