WITH the long weekend fast approaching, bushwalkers and adventurers heading to the Blue Mountains are urged to be prepared.
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Each year around 130 bushwalkers get lost and/or require rescuing, most walkers are found within 24 hours, but occasionally a weekend adventure can turn to tragedy.
Between 2004 and 2007 nearly 400 people were reported missing in the Blue Mountains and surrounding area, which led to 200 search and rescue operations.
A bush safety initiative between the NSW Police Force and the National Parks and Wildlife Service aims to provide bushwalkers and adventurers in the Blue Mountains with a free loaned Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).
Blue Mountains Police District took to its social media page to encourage the use of a PLB.
"The PLB units are part of the new digital system which sends more information when an emergency beacon is activated," police said.
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"This offers the advantage of precise location information from the inbuilt GPS as well a unique identifying number so rescue authorities can send the appropriate resources more quickly."
The Blue Mountains National Park covers more than a quarter of a million hectares and has 250 kilometres of walking tracks, much of the park is remote and difficult to access except via foot.
Police said planning ahead using the TREK acronym can help people keen to go bushwalking.
PLBs are available on loan from the NPWS Blue Mountains Heritage Centre at Blackheath, and after hours at the Katoomba or Springwood police stations.
Kosciusko National Park also hires out PLBs to bushwalkers for a small fee - contact the Tumut, Khancoban and Jindabyne NPWS offices for more information.
Personal satellite tracking devices or PLB's (Personal Location Beacons) are for emergency situations only.
Contact the park office or local visitor centre to ask about local conditions, tracks, creek or river water levels and fire danger. National parks offices and visitor centres throughout the Blue Mountains have experienced staff who have a wide knowledge of the local area.
Leave full details of your planned walk with a relative or a responsible person, include details about where you will be going, who is with you, what equipment you have, and when you expect to return. NSW National Parks and NSW Police are trialling an online trip intention form.
Allow plenty of time to finish the activity in daylight, and pack extra food and water in case of unexpected delays.
Weather can sometimes change quickly so walkers should be prepared for heat, rain and cold. Check the Bureau of Meteorology website for the latest weather forecast.
At the very least, we advise that you carry:
If possible try to have at least four people in your group. If there is an emergency, two can go for help, while the other stays with the injured or ill person.
Make sure there's at least one experienced person in the group who can guide and assist others.
Make sure your activity is something which all participants in your group are able to do.
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