Police are urging those travelling to alpine areas this winter to plan ahead to stay safe, with this year’s snow season expected to be the busiest in two years.
An influx of Melburnians are expected to head to the slopes this winter, as travelling to the snow was restricted for the last two years due to the pandemic.
With heavy snow fall prompting alpine resorts to open a week earlier than the official season opening this weekend, 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 snow fall, so people are advised to check the VicRoads’ website or phone 13 11 70, resort websites and social media channels before leaving home.
Police are also reminding people to carry appropriate snow chains and ensure they can be fitted to their vehicles. The chains must be fitted when directed to do so. You can be fined and redirected away from the mountain for failing to carry and fit snow chains as directed. 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;
• Always follow directions by resort staff, police and road signs.
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 those planning to ski, snowboard or hike backcountry areas to:
• Buddy up or let someone know where you are going and how long you will be;
• Wear appropriate wind and waterproof clothing;
• Carry a spare battery or turn your mobile phone off to preserve battery power;
• Take care of and check your equipment before skiing or boarding;
• Regularly check weather and snow conditions as conditions can change quickly;
• Consider carrying an emergency locator beacon;
• 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.
As always if you need emergency assistance while you’re on the mountain call Triple Zero (000).
Local police officers will maintain a seven-day-a-week presence at Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller for the duration of the season.
Police 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.
Quotes attributable to Bright Senior Sergeant Doug Incoll:
“Police are looking forward to seeing Victorians once again enjoying our beautiful alpine region. It is shaping up to be the best winter for many years and it is the first time since 2000 that resorts have opened early due to the amount of snow.
“However, we are pleading with people to ensure their safety checklist is fully ticked off before heading up to the mountains, particularly when it comes to road safety. One small oversight such as inappropriate wheel chains could easily lead to tragedy.
“We also ask everyone to make sure they enjoy themselves responsibly after a long day in the snow, this includes drinking responsibly and looking 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 keeping your skis/board secure at all times and keeping valuables out of sight.”
Quotes attributable to Senior Sergeant Greg Paul – Search and Rescue Squad:
“The alpine region is a wonderful place to visit during winter, and for many Victorians, this will be the first opportunity to experience the snow in at least two years.
“Preparation is absolutely key to an enjoyable snow experience, so we are urging snow-goers to heed our safety advice and plan well ahead to ensure maximum protection.
“If you get lost – don’t panic. Get out of the wind, try to stay dry and off the snow, and remain visible. Don’t simply walk downhill hoping to make it to civilisation.
“For anybody visiting alpine areas during winter, whether you’re very experienced or it’s your first trip, the following site is full of important information that may one day safe your life – snowsafe.org.au.”