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Emergency services remind community to have a plan and stay safe as 2017 snow season starts

Friday, 09 June 2017 01:10:14 PM

***EDITORS NOTE: Vision regarding the ‘Snowsafe’ operation will be distributed to media outlets state-wide via Hightail link this afternoon.***

Emergency services are urging the community to have a plan and stay ‘Snowsafe’ as this year’s ski season kicks off.

The official snow season begins this weekend and will run until October, during which millions of snow season enthusiasts are expected to make their way to the state’s alpine region.

Southern Region Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Rod Smith, said the official launch of ‘Snowsafe’ sees additional police being deployed in the area to provide a high visibility operation involving highly-trained Alpine Operators, General Duties police, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Licensing Police and other specialist commands throughout the season.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith urged the community to plan ahead when travelling to the snowfields and make safety their top priority when hitting the slopes this season.

“Additional officers are deployed to the region each year, which allows police to maintain a high-visibility presence across the snow resorts and surrounding alpine areas,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“People can expect to see police out and about throughout the season targeting road safety, alcohol-related crime, anti-social behaviour and personal safety.

“We’ll also have Licensing Police patrolling venues in and around the major resorts. I urge people to have a plan. Plan how you’re getting home, organise a designated driver or pre-arrange transportation. Don’t take the risk because you will get caught,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“Remember to act responsibly and keep an eye out for your mates so you can all enjoy a safe and fun experience on the snowfields this season.”

Police and NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) are also urging hikers visiting the region to ensure their personal safety by submitting a Trip Intention Form and hiring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) before heading out into the national park.

“Hikers can access a PLB free of charge by way of a refundable deposit from one of the National Parks and Wildlife Service centres located at numerous locations including Jindabyne as well as Perisher and Thredbo resorts,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“When exploring in remote areas, these simple safety measures can mean the difference between life and death if you become lost in the national park and need immediate assistance. Hikers should also check weather conditions in advance, wear appropriate clothing and carry plenty of food and water.”

NSW SES Deputy Commissioner Greg Newton said damaging winds and blizzard conditions experienced last season in the Snowy Mountains highlights the importance of being prepared and keeping safe in the snow and on the roads.

Local NSW SES volunteers have been preparing for the tough conditions in the Alps, including a large number of highly trained Road Crash Rescue and Alpine Search and Rescue Operators who have been honing their skills since last snow season to effectively respond to emergencies in support of NSW Police.

“As the peak ski season gears up, these specialised NSW SES volunteers have been put through their paces, have prepared their equipment, and are at full operational capacity,” Mr Newton said.

Emergency services are also urging the community to follow simple snow storm safety measures.

“We’ve seen some pretty rough weather affect the Snowy Mountains district over the years so it’s vital that people holidaying in these areas, particularly back-country skiers stay aware of the weather conditions and use common sense when visiting this sometimes hazardous environment,” Mr Newton said.

“Damaging winds and snow storms have the potential to bring down trees, branches, power lines, remove roofs and blow around items left outdoors.

“Some simple things you can do now to get ready for potential snow storms include trimming trees, keeping your roof in good condition, clearing gutters and drains, making an emergency plan, preparing an emergency kit and securing loose items around the yard or balcony,” he said.

The annual ‘Snowsafe’ campaign will also see Traffic and Highway Patrol officers out in force to ensure the safe arrival of visitors to the area.

“Highway Patrol officers will be targeting speed, alcohol, fatigue and restraint offences in the Alpine areas,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“Motorists are urged to drive to the weather conditions, plan their travel before they get in the car and stay alert by taking regular breaks.

“You should also fix snow chains to your tyres in slippery conditions within the designated bays, ensure everyone in your car is wearing their seat belts and don’t drink and drive,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

Minister for Police and Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant thanked police and all the emergency services volunteers and personnel who will work to keep people safe this snow season.

“Our first responders are trained to deal with all kinds of snow-related emergencies, but there are a number of precautions snow-goers can take to prevent accidents and injuries,” Mr Grant said.

“We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy all that our wonderful ski resorts have to offer this winter, but please do so safely and responsibly.”

Further information on driving in snowfield conditions can be found by visiting the Centre for Road Safety website: http://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/drivers/badweather/snowdriving.html

Hikers can contact the Snowy Region Visitor Centre for more information or visit: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au or www.environment.nsw.gov.au.

For general snow safety tips when visiting alpine regions, as well as useful links you can access: http://snowsafe.org.au/