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Tips to avoid the Prickly plants and Slithering Snakes

With Summer on our doorstep, and with the majority of us moving from inside to outside, it’s important to be knowledgeable on what could potentially be lurking outside. Whether it be a poisonous plant or a snapping snake, we’ve got some tips for you.

There are over one thousand species of plants in Australia known to be toxic to humans and animals, according to Australian Geographic, and plenty more that cause irritation and discomfort when interacted with. It would be impossible for you to learn all of them in one sitting, so once you pick your hiking destination, familiarize yourself and your children with the harmful plants native to that area. Below are listed several of the most common dangerous plants to watch out for.

(From left to right: Deadly nightshade, Milk mangrove, (Second row) Angels trumpets, Oleander, (Third Row) Spurge, The Nettle family (Bottom Row) Asthma/Stickweed)

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Now that you can put a face to the name, you can ensure that you steer clear of them. Although Bushwalking can seem dangerous, once you have the knowledge of what could potentially cause danger, you can prepare accordingly for any potential situations and you can focus on the fun and healthy aspect that Bushwalking provides.


Now, let’s talk about Snakes. A snakebite is more a fear than a reality. Whilst estimates of the incidence of snakebite throughout Australia is several thousand a year, of these only about 300 require antivenom treatment and on average 1-2 cases, a year result in death. Bushwalkers are not identified in the statistics as a high-risk group. Here’s a list of ones to keep an eye on.

1: Copperhead (lowland) 
2: Small-eyed Snake 
3: White-lipped Snake 
4: Eastern Tiger Snake 
5: Red-bellied Black Snake 
6: Eastern Brown Snake 
7: Little Whip Snake 


Unprovoked, snakes rarely attack humans. Therefore, do not disturb a snake in your pathway, simply alert the other members of your party to give it a wide berth. Always wear stout footwear and be observant. Take particular care in warm weather, long grass, hollow logs, near water or rocks in sunny positions.

In areas where snakes are prevalent, it is wise to wear long trousers and/or gaiters. Although snakes cannot hear they can detect vibrations in the ground, so walk heavily to encourage them to instinctively flee from your path. When camping, use a tent with an integral floor and always zip up the doors. Use a torch at night.


Victims usually know they have been bitten. Symptoms may appear 15 minutes to 2 hours after the bite and may be mild or severe, depending on the species and the bite. Symptoms include double vision, headache, nausea, and vomiting, sweating, faintness, diarrhea, chest pain, difficulty swallowing or breathing, swollen lymph glands in groin or armpit, drowsiness.


The principle of the treatment of snake bite is to reduce the amount of venom that reaches the bloodstream by applying firm pressure over the bitten area and minimizing movement by the victim. The lower leg is the most vulnerable to snakebite when bushwalking. If a member of the party is bitten:

  1. Immediately apply firm pressure over the bite site.
  2. Lay the victim down and keep them calm and at complete rest.
  3. Apply a broad firm bandage to the bitten area and around as much of the limb as possible, without removing clothing if this means moving the limb. Bandage as tightly as for a sprain and work up the limb to include the joint above the bite site.
  4. Immobilize the limb with a makeshift splint.
  5. Constantly observe the patient for shock and respiratory failure. Dispatch other member/s of the party with knowledge of your location to bring outside help to transport the patient.
  6. If external help is unavailable, the best option is probably to rest for a day or two, and then proceed to the nearest civilization taking care to minimize stress to the patient.

DO NOT deliberately disturb a snake.
DO NOT walk in sandals or thongs.
DO NOT cut or wash a bite - venom on bandages can be used to identify the snake, which is required to ensure the correct anti-venom is used.
DO NOT apply an arterial tourniquet.

If you yourself, or a fellow bushwalker encounter a snake bite, we highly recommend the use of ‘Setopress’ bandages. The link to this product is here. As always, please ensure you have the Emergency app easily accessible on your mobile device. If you don’t already have it, you can download it here.

Happy walking!

Source:  Compare the Market - a parent’s guide to safe Australian bushwalks, Bushwalking Victoria.

Asthma – 4 Steps of Asthma First Aid

Tis the Season – Spring – albeit a bit late! Lots of spring flowers and lots grass pollen out and about.

Grass pollen season brings a seasonal increase in asthma and hay fever and also the chance of epidemic thunderstorm asthma. Epidemic thunderstorm asthma events are thought to be triggered by a unique combination of high grass pollen levels and a certain type of thunderstorm, causing a large number of people to develop Asthma symptoms over a short period of time. These don’t happen every year but when they do, they can happen during grass pollen season, which is normally from October through to December.

Below are 4 steps of Asthma first aid:

1. Sit the person upright

2. Give 4 separate puffs of blue/grey reliever puffer

  • Shake puffer
  • Put 1 puff into spacer 
  • Take 4 breaths from spacer
  • Repeat until 4 puffs have been taken
  • Remember: shake, 1 puff, 4 breaths
    OR give 2 separate doses of a Bricanyl inhaler (age 6 & over) or a Symbicort inhaler (over 12)

3. Wait 4 minutes - if there is no improvement, give 4 more separate puffs of bluegrey reliever as above OR give 1 more dose of Bricanyl or Symbicort inhaler

4. If there is still no improvement dial TRIPLE ZERO (000) for an ambulance, if in the bush, use your Emergency+ app. This app has your location on your phone screen. Keep giving 4 separate puff every 4 minutes until emergency assistance arrive, OR 1 dose of Bricanyl or Symbicort every 4 minutes - up to 3 more doses of Symbicort.

Call emergency assistance immediately if:

  • If the person is not breathing
  • If the person's Asthma suddenly becomes worse, or is not improving
  • If the person is having an Asthma attack and a reliever is not available
  • If you are not sure if it's Asthma
  • If the person is known to have Anaphylaxis - follow their Anaphylaxis Action Plan, then give Asthma First Aid. Blue/grey reliever medication is unlikely to harm, even if the person does not have Asthma.

Any hikers please keep a medical history form with all details in a waterproof container in your backpack. Advise your walk leader if you suffer from Asthma, even if it is occasional.

You can also download the VicEmergency app and set up a "watch zone" for your location to receive advise and warnings about potential Asthma events during the spring and grass pollen season.

Source:  Asthma Australia & Victoria State Goverment


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10 Snacking Ideas for Bushwalkers

 With spring among us, and the weather warming up (hopefully), we're sure your walking will become a lot more frequent!

Food for the trail is one of the most important factors, but it can be the most confusing. What snacks to pack that will last, aren't too heavy and will give you the energy boost you need? Here are 10 of our favourites:

Chocolate – packed with high energy due to the amount of sugar, you can beat fatigue with a chocolate bar. Cacao contains caffeine and the fat in cocoa butter becomes burnable fuel when active. In summer, opt for chocolate sultanas as they are less likely to melt. Melt a bar of chocolate for a cup of hot coco in winter to keep you feeling fuzzy inside.

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