Emergency Situations

There are many types of injuries, accidents and emergencies that could affect an ecotourism venture.

Some of these are:

  • workplace hazards - chemicals spills, car or boat accidents, faulty and dangerous equipment, power failures
  • natural disasters - cyclones, floods, severe storms, fire
  • environment hazards - snake and spider bite, falling branches, drowning
  • catering hazards - food poisoning, fire injuries
  • people - intoxication, violence, bomb threats, medical conditions, suicide, getting lost

Possible potential accidents, injuries and emergency situations should be identified and procedures developed showing how the emergency will be handled if it occurs. The type of emergency likely to occur will depend on the activities for the venture and the environment.

For example, camping could be a popular activity for an ecotourism venture. However, there are many risks associated with taking people camping, especially if they are not used to this experience.

In planning a campsite activity you should:

  • Check to see that the roads to the site have not been damaged by recent floods or storms. They may not be safe for travel.
  • Check the site for potential dangers like:

    - overhanging cliffs, boulders or branches
    - areas that could flood (flash floods)
    - dangerous or annoying animals (wasps, crocodiles) or    plants (stinging)
    - long dry grass causing a fire risk
    - rough or uneven ground (tree stumps or roots, rocks)
    - rubbish and hazards (metal, glass, mine shafts)

  • Check the weather forecast with the Bureau of Meteorology.
  • Check for fire restrictions.
  • Check the availability of water.
  • Arrange camp facilities carefully. Situate tents, the kitchen, fireplace, toilet, shower and wash area for convenience, comfort, safety and to protect the environment. Take notice of the prevailing winds (fire, position of tents). Consider shade areas and breezes in hot climates.
  • Mark tent ropes, pegs and other obstacles with white rags to stop people tripping.
  • Prepare the fire and cooking area with safety in mind (position, number of fires, fire place, clear space for 3 metres).
  • Ensure the kitchen area is safe in its design (obstacles, knives, boiling water).
  • Store and prepare food so that it does not become contaminated.
  • Ensure dining area is at a distance from the fire and kitchen area, and on a level surface.
  • Manage washing and toilet facilities for maximum hygiene and environment protection. Provide visitors with rules for use.
  • Pack and store equipment carefully at the end of the camp. Check for any faulty equipment or lost items.
  • Consider the security of visitors' personal belongings and valuables.
  • Involve visitors in discussions about health and safety activities and procedures for the camp.
  • Be aware of any medical conditions that visitors may suffer.
  • Consider providing each visitor with a small survival kit in case they become lost or are injured away from the camp.

Be aware that by not complying with the above procedures for camping, an emergency situation could arise. You must know how to handle each potential situation.

Source: Australian Training Products (1998) Set up and operate a campsite : trainee workbook, Australian Training Products : Melbourne