Are you thinking of planning a trip to Florida? The Sunshine State has everything from the serene beaches of the Key West and lively nightlife in Miami to adventuring in the Everglades and relaxing at a resort like Disney World. While this state is one of the top vacation destinations in the United States, here are our top 10 safety tips you should know before traveling to Florida.
1. Drive Safely in Heavy Traffic
Taking a road trip throughout Florida is a great option for a vacation, especially if you want to see a wide variety of climates and environments. However, driving can be more dangerous than you might expect.
In densely populated areas like Miami and Orlando, vehicle accidents are very common – especially during rush hour and other times where roads and highways are overcrowded. It is important to follow the rules of the road and practice defensive driving, especially on roads you are unfamiliar with.
2. Natural Disaster Safety
Florida’s hurricane season begins in June and ends in November. The peak points of the season are September and October, so it may be best to avoid traveling to Florida during those months. However, if you do travel here during those times and there is a hurricane, there are a few tips to help ensure your safety, including:
- Make sure the tank of your vehicle is filled
- Keep non-perishable food and water bottles
- Identify a safe place to stay, like a room with no windows
- Research your hotel or Airbnb’s policy about what to do in case of a hurricane
- Identify the nearest emergency shelter
Many hotels in areas like Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa have information for their visitors on how to navigate natural disasters.
3. Animal Safety
There is a wealth of wildlife in Florida, and some animals even wander into highly populated areas. They are often spotted in places like Sarasota and in the Everglades area. A common sighting in Florida is the American Alligator and many snake species.
It is important to maintain a safe distance between you and an animal. If spooked, these animals may become aggressive. If you have an aggressive encounter with a wild animal in Florida, contact emergency services right away.
4. Insect and Spider Safety
Florida’s increased humidity makes a great climate for many bugs. While most insects and spiders are not venomous, it is important to recognize an insect or spider if you get bitten.
A good safety tip is to browse the Florida Poison Control Website for potential bites that you may get. By recognizing insects you should avoid, this should decrease your chances of being bitten.
5. Beach and Swimming Safety
Some of the risks to look out for when spending a day at the beach are rip currents, jellyfish and other animals in the water, and child safety. Usually, beaches will indicate “red zones” where it is dangerous to swim because of rip currents.
Furthermore, jellyfish sometimes come near the shores of Sarasota and Miami Beach, and Key West and can sting swimmers, but they are easily avoidable if you keep your eyes out for them. Make sure to beware of large numbers of jellyfish that can swarm beach areas. If you are supervising children, you should be extra careful to watch them at Florida beaches.
6. Heat Safety and Dehydration
The Florida heat can catch visitors by surprise. It is important to drink a lot of water when you are in the heat, especially during any kind of physical activity. Watch out for signs of dehydration and heat stroke, including rapid heartbeat, feeling dizzy, rapid breathing, headaches, sleepiness, and fainting.
While anyone can become dehydrated, older adults, babies, and young children are the most susceptible. If you think that you are severely dehydrated, it is important to drink water and take a break from physical activity. If the symptoms worsen, it is best to see a medical professional.
It is also important to prevent children and animals from sitting in hot cars for prolonged periods of time, because this can increase the effects of dehydration and cause other heat-related health complication. Areas like Tampa, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville all have high temperatures during the summer with humidity in the 60 percent range.
7. Sun Safety
The Florida sun is what attracts many visitors during the winter season. Like staying hydrated because of the high temperatures, it is important to keep your skin safe from the strong Florida UV rays. Some things you can do to protect yourself include wearing sun block, reapplying sun block frequently, wearing hats while outside, and standing under shade when you can.
8. Water Sports and Boating Accidents
Miami Beach and Tampa Bay are popular places for boating and water sports during the summer season. However, boats are very large and can be dangerous if not operated properly.
Excessive speed, distracted driving, and impaired driving are all factors that commonly cause boating accidents. Before traveling to Florida, you should familiarize yourself with the local laws surrounding boats in order to prevent accidents from occurring.
9. City Safety
Some of the largest cities in Florida are Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando. These cities are crowded with residents as well as tourists, so it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables close to you, and make sure you know where you’re going.
While most of Florida’s cities are generally regarded as safe, taking precaution is the best way to keep you and your belongings safe. One important tip is to research the crime statistics of where you are going before leaving.
10. Child Safety
Florida, especially Orlando, is a great place for kids. With all of the amusement parks and attractions like Disney and Orlando Studios, kids are sure to be entertained. During the peak season, it is easy for a children and adults to get separated. Not only are there thousands of people all in one place, but there are countless distractions that cause kids to wander off away from their families.
Talking to your child about safety before you get to the park is one way to prevent them from getting lost. Wearing bright colors can also help you see them more clearly to keep them from getting lost in a crowd. Lastly, make sure to have a photo of them ready so that you can show amusement park staff to help find them. While lost kids are a common occurrence at amusement parks, they can be easily prevented with the right steps.