Victoria Police is geared up for the official opening of the snow season this weekend and asking those travelling to alpine areas to plan ahead to keep themselves safe.
Local officers will be supported by members from the Public Order Response Team to ensure a seven day a week presence at Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller from this weekend, for the duration of the season.
Their focus will be on enhancing community safety through highly visible patrols across the mountains, ensuring responsible service of alcohol through patrols and spot checks at licensed venues, road safety on and around the mountains and providing timely responses to any incidents that occur.
With winter bringing freezing temperatures, heavy rain and snow fall to alpine areas this week, it’s a timely reminder for snow-goers to be aware of the safety measures they can take to ensure their holidays are safe and enjoyable.
Those travelling on unfamiliar alpine roads are encouraged to drive with care and caution, with dangerous and slippery conditions predicted.
Some roads are expected to be closed due to flooding so people are advised to check VicRoads’ website, social media channels or phone 13 11 70 before leaving home.
Police are also reminding the community to ensure vehicles are fitted with appropriate wheel chains – at all resorts you can be fined for not carrying and fitting chains as directed in the Alpine Resorts Act. Other alpine road safety tips include:
• Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of fuel,
• Ensure your car’s radiator is filled with anti-freeze and if diesel use Alpine Mix,
• Drive cautiously with gradual pressure on the accelerator to avoid wheel spin,
• Brake gently and avoid unnecessary gear changes.
The Search and Rescue Squad is also asking people to prepare and plan their trip carefully to prevent becoming lost in snow areas or in national parks.
Anyone visiting backcountry areas or slopes outside the boundaries of resorts is advised to take extra care in planning their trip and consider the risks associated with avalanches, particularly after heavy snow falls.
Search and Rescue Squad officers advise people to:
• Let someone know where you are going and how long you will be,
• Wear appropriate wind and waterproof clothing,
• Take care of and check your equipment before skiing or boarding,
• Regularly check weather and snow conditions,
• If lost – stop, seek shelter and wait.
The community is encouraged to visit the ‘Outdoor and bush safety’ section of the Victoria Police website for further advice and to download a Trip Intentions Form. This form should be filled out and left with a reliable friend, family member or responsible authority.
People are reminded to be aware of any COVID-19 restrictions that are in place and comply with directions of the Chief Health Officer (CHO) at all times during the snow season.
Victoria Police will continue to play our role protecting the health and safety of all Victorians by enforcing the CHO directions across the state. This includes ensuring Melburnians are not travelling to regional areas, as for the latest directions, this long weekend.
As always if you need emergency assistance while you’re on the mountain call Triple Zero (000).
Quotes attributable to Eastern Region Acting Assistant Commissioner Clive Rust:
“Driving on roads with snow or ice cover combined with poor weather and visibility conditions requires concentration and patience. Keep your cool if stuck in a long queue of traffic, and always follow directions by resort staff, police and road signs as they are there for your safety.
“We also ask everyone to make sure they enjoy themselves responsibility after a long day of snow activities. It’s critical in this environment that you have your wits about you at all times, so please so drink responsibly and look after your mates.
“Unfortunately theft of snow equipment and personal belongings does occur on the mountains every year. There are a number of common-sense measures you can take to reduce theft of your property such as knowing where your skis/board are all times, keeping them secure and keeping valuables out of sight.”
Quotes attributed to Search & Rescue Squad Acting Senior Sergeant Lynden Blackley:
“Preparation is absolutely key to prevent becoming lost or stuck at the snow or finding yourself in an emergency search and rescue situation. In particular, those planning to ski, board or hike backcountry areas are advised to not travel alone, to notify someone when and where they are going and carry an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) as an additional safety precaution.
“Conditions can and do change quicky at the snow, so people should be aware there may be occasions where we will not be able to rescue or search for those who may be injured or lost due to environmental conditions.
“Whether it’s skiing, boarding or hiking, anyone travelling to the alpine areas must prepare appropriately and understand the conditions and the environment in which they’re carrying out their activity.”