Survival expert Bob Cooper says the outback can be safely enjoyed with the right precuations. (ABC News: Chrissy Arthur)
Forward planning and carrying adequate water supplies are vital for travellers in Australia’s Outback regions, survival experts have warned.
Bob Cooper’s top five survival tips:
- Plan ahead: notify people of your route and stick to it if possible
- Carry more water than you need
- Stay near your vehicle if you run out of fuel
- Carry an emergency kit (warm blanket, signal, lighter or matches and medical supplies)
- Increase your water intake: drink it, don’t sip it
Their comments come in the wake of the deaths of two men in the space of a week in separate incidents in remote parts of Western Australia, both believed to be heat-related.
On Saturday, the body of experienced motorcyclist Daniel Price, who was on a solo expedition from Darwin to Karratha, was found on an isolated dirt track near the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley.
Outback survival expert Bob Cooper, who has more 30 years’ experience in training people to survive Australia’s extreme conditions, urged people to plan ahead and drink enough water to survive.
He said most Outback deaths were preventable if people took sensible precautions.
These included increasing water intake and drinking at least 250 millilitres at a time, instead of taking small sips.
“You must take enough water,” he said.
“Take what is recommend it by Parks and Wildlife and don’t sip it. Don’t try and make it last till you get back — you need it.
‘If you keep sipping it will just keep going downhill to the point where you are suffering from dehydration dementia.
“People die from lack of water, rarely lack of food,” Mr Cooper said.
“I have seen notes from people who have unfortunately perished and the Es are back to front, the Ds are back to front — they are suffering from dehydration dementia.”
He also recommended that hikers should schedule enough rest breaks and not rush their journey.
“Sit and wait until it’s cool or walk back at night-time,” Mr Cooper said.
“We’re the only animal who’s moving in the heat of the day. Let the animals be your teachers; nothing else is moving.”
Bob Cooper says people mostly die in the outback through lack of water, rarely lack of food. (ABC News: Melanie Arnost, file photo)
Police tips for hikers and campers:
- Ensure you have sufficient fuel and at least two spare tyres
- Ensure you have detailed current maps
- Check road conditions with local government offices and transport and roads websites
- Plan alternative routes in case your original route is inaccessible
- Ensure you invest in an EPIRB or personal locator beacon
- Satellite phones are invaluable and will ensure rescuers can get to you as fast as possible if you need assistance
- If you are travelling to very remote areas, make sure you have high-frequency and CB radios with you
- Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to arrive. Confirm your arrival with them
A WA Police spokeswoman said people should stay with their vehicles if they become lost or incapacitated for some reason.
“Police and State Emergency Services utilise varying types of search resources, including aircraft and vehicles,” she said.
“In remote areas, it is much easier for searchers to spot a vehicle from the air, than it is a person.
“We advise them to try not to panic, and stay with their vehicle at all times.”
Mr Cooper said while most people safely enjoyed the Outback, it was important to respect the land.
“It’s all planning — if you know what you should do and what you should take it’s not scary,” he said.
“It’s nature [but] we unfortunately can turn it from a mishap to a tragedy.”
Police urge people to stay with their vehicles if they become bogged or otherwise incapacitated. (ABC News: Andree Withey – file image)