When planning your next outback trip, whether for work or leisure its important you take the time to plan out and think through, where you are going, what could go wrong (potentially), and what you have to consider taking with you to minimise risk of something going drastically wrong.
Unfortunately, in Australia we experience tragedies in the outback year-round, the reason? We have the type of climate where, in Summer, you holiday or work in the south, in Winter, you head north or central. And the common denominator? We have very limited phone reception the minute you leave a town or city, couple this with a hot climate, unrelenting but beautiful terrain and countryside, minimal people, and somewhat hazardous wildlife. Hence you now have a great recipe for what could be a great expedition one minute, to an escalating emergency the next.
So, in saying this, we still want you to enjoy the outdoors, so being prepared for the worst (or most likely worst) case scenario will hopefully assist in some way, so we have developed a “Top 10 Survival Tips" guide to assist in your planning:
Without a doubt, you need some sort of communication. Ideally this is via Satellite to accommodate for the fact that generally most outdoors locations that are isolated from the nearest towns, don’t have mobile reception. Some options include: Satellite Phones, Satellite Messaging or Paging Devices, or Satellite WIFI type devices – which all have their nuances, however effective at getting a message to the outside world non-the less. As a back-up, it can be also a great idea depending on where you are going to consider 2-way communications such as a UHF or VHF radio, these are ideal if travelling in convoy however are limited by terrain, distance and repeater stations.
2. First Aid
Ideally you should think through the trip you have planned and some of the areas you will be visiting to understand some of the potential hazards. For example – going for a bush walk in an isolated area – there would without a doubt, be uneven or potentially slippery ground, snakes or venomous creatures, sharp objects, and, if you are also camping, hot fires, coals etc. Given you have thought through these hazards – it’s absolutely necessary to pack a first aid kit that can hopefully deal with some of these hazards. Making sure you have compression bandages for a snake bite, cuts or wounds is vital; band-aids for blisters, burn kits for burns etc. you get the idea. The key is – no matter your communication device – you should also pack a first aid kit to sustain life or maintain comfort, until help arrives. You must also consider your personal health and fitness in packing a first aid kit – Allergic to bees? Think about Epi-Pens (if your Doctor recommends it of course).
3. Survival Kits
Packing a small survival kit, can be the difference between you eating and not eating or being able to light a fire to send SOS or attract help. There are many different kits out there on the market. A basic one will consider things like a knife or multitool, a small needle for repairs, string or paracord, fishing hook/lures, flints, magnifying glass, compass, and whistle. Basic they sound, but these may be the difference between you being heard when there is a search party looking for you and you have a broken leg and can’t move vs you being missed.
Provisions of water are essential for life. You must consider taking more than you think you would require in a normal day for the climate you are in. A general guide for the northern parts of Australia 10 litres per person, per day. Some considerations when out in the heat, as a general rule, your body can process 250mL / 15mins. If you are outside and active, in a very hot humid climate, there is a good chance you cannot drink and process the required fluids your body needs and risk experiencing dehydration. Electrolytes can be a good way to also substitute the salts your body requires to function, that your body is excreting through sweat. Please consume only the recommended amounts of this as it can also have the opposite effect you desire and cause other health issues if too much is consumed.
5. Recovery Equipment
Again, dependent on where you are going, and if you are driving there off-road, consider how you may recover your vehicle if/when you get stuck. Some ways of doing this include using plastic recovery tracks which assist forming a solid base under your wheel on boggy or soft/slippery surfaces, snatching equipment – helpful if you are in convoy and have access to another vehicle – these can come in soft slings / shackles which can be hazardous if not used correctly (consider a dampener when snatching due to the high forces which can cause projectiles), winches, either electric or hand – these are useful when on your own and you can form a solid anchor point either using a tree or buried object. Less desired – high lift jacks, or exhaust jacks, which if you are not careful can create stored energy and suspended loads, but useful for jacking up a vehicle and placing objects underneath to form a solid base to drive out on.