Florida Health & Safety Tips & Tricks

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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Florida Health & Safety Tips & Tricks

Florida is one of the safest places you can visit as everything is geared up for tourism for your visit.  So here's a few tips and tricks to keep you and your family safe.   You'd probably take some of the measures at home anyway so they won't necessarily come as much of a surprise, but there are a few particularly Floridian only ones to look out for.

Airport Security Checks

As you can imagine, these are pretty comprehensive these days but for your own good. Remember not to pack in your hand luggage any sharp objects (knives, scissors, tweezers, knitting needles, etc) as these will be confiscated before you get on the plane.  

In the USA, there are very thorough security checks before you enter the Departure Lounge area and these can cause slight delays.  You will be asked to place your hand luggage on the conveyor for x-ray, remove your laptop from its case and send it through separately, your jacket or coat and perhaps even your shoes.  The walk through security archway is set to a much higher sensitivity level than it used to be so you may need to remove your belt, coins from your pockets, etc.  ALWAYS make sure that you send one of your party to go through first so that they can collect up and keep an eye on your luggage when it comes off the conveyor belt - make sure that everyone has collected everything.

Don't make any jokes to security staff about the checks as they take a very dim view of this type of behaviour and they take security very seriously.   You may find yourself missing that flight.

Driving

This is pretty relaxed in Florida so, if you haven't driven there before, don't worry.   Make sure that you understand the car controls before you drive away from the car rental garage and, if you don't, ASK!    Some cars have self locking doors - when you reach a particular speed, the doors lock.  If your car doesn't do this for you, lock the doors yourself.   Always keep your windows closed - this helps the air conditioning to work better and also stops bugs from being sucked into the car.

Remember that you should be driving on the right side of the road - concentrate when you're tired, have started after parking somewhere and also when you're turning left.  Delegate one of your passengers to navigate for you (or read out the driving directions).   If you do happen to get lost, drive to a well lit and populated area (a garage or gas station is ideal) to ask directions or use the phone.

Carry your driving licence and car rental documents with you at all times.  Always put your headlights on when you switch on your windscreen wipers and belt up (it's the law).  Never drink and drive - not only are the US drink driving limits much lower than in the UK, it will also keep everyone else on the road safe.  If a yellow school bus stops in front of you with its lights flashing, you MUST stop until the flashing lights have been turned off.   If someone bumps your car from behind in a dark area, motion to the driver to follow you to a well lit and populated area.

When you park, make sure that any valuables and maps are left out of sight in the boot/trunk but note that the heat in your car may well ruin your film in your camera or even your camera itself.  Note that it is illegal to leave children alone in a car that is locked, even with the windows open.

Never park on a sidewalk/pavement as this is an offence - as is parking in a disabled parking bay. 

There are very strict speed limits and lots of Highway Patrol cars with radar guns.  Always keep within the speed limits and note that some major roads have minimum speed limits too.

On Holiday

We hope you won't need them but, for the emergency services, dial 911.  

You may need to obtain permission from your travel insurance company before seeking treatment for non-life threatening illnesses or accidents - check your insurance policy documents.   If you should be unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident, remember to contact the police as well as the car rental company.

Florida has a lot of wildlife that may not be commonly seen elsewhere.   Please enjoy the wildlife from a distance and remember not to feed any wild creatures, even if they do look cute!   Be particularly careful with ants, spiders, snakes and alligators (although you may not see any of these during your trip).  

Look out for small sandy mounds in grass and don't tread on these (make sure that you and your children always wear shoes when walking on grass).  These are inhabited by fire ants which are very small red coloured ants.  If you're bitten by these, the stings can be very painful, come up in blisters which last several days and sometimes become infected (you can buy ant bite treatment from any supermarket or pharmacy).

Some spiders can be spiteful too if they're disturbed so treat these with caution.  Some snakes, as in the UK, are venomous and, as you're unlikely to know the difference, keep away from these if you spot any.

Alligators should be self explanatory!   Never get anywhere near these and on no account feed them. 

Note that it is illegal to feed some types of birds too for which there is a fine if you're reported by a local.   Make it a rule never to feed, chase, harass or get near any wildlife.

At The Theme Parks

The car parks at these are absolutely vast - remember that you left your car at Mickey Row 36 (or whatever) as you could spend hours looking for it when you come out of the theme park.   No-one ever makes this mistake twice!

There are water fountains dotted around so make sure that everyone drinks plenty of fluids and doesn't get dehydrated.  This is particularly important for the little and elderly ones in your group.

Wear comfortable shoes as you'll be walking and standing a lot and don't wear jeans if you're going on a water ride where you're likely to get wet - they take hours to dry out and you'll feel very uncomfortable!    Make sure that kids are well covered in high factor sun block - even when it looks cloudy, you can still get sunburn and no-one wants their holiday ruined with this or worse, sunstroke.  Make sure that kids preferably wear a hat with some neck protection and a top with sleeves to protect them from the sun.

If anyone feels ill or has any medical problems in the theme parks, most of them have a medical center (check your park map) for you to go to for treatment or just reassurance that all is well. 

General Security

Wherever you're staying, make sure that you lock the door when you go out or at night.   If there's a security alarm, make sure that you set it each time you leave.

Always go through a fire plan with the rest of your party, make sure you know where the emergency exits are and pick a meeting place well away from the building where you can join up again.

If you're shopping, then keep tight hold of your bag (the same as you would do at home) and don't take all your money and jewellery out with you.  If your accommodation has a safe, then make sure that you use it!   Unfortunately, whilst crime rates are low, not everyone is on holiday.

Before letting anyone into your accommodation, make sure you know who they are.  Hotel or management company employees should have identification to show to you or telephone before they arrive.

Beware of door to door sellers (who often have 'bargain' meat, fish, etc 'left over' from someone else's order).    These are nearly always scams. 

As at home, always ensure that your rental car is locked each time you leave it.  Don't leave valuables or shopping lying around inside so that it can be seen.

It's a good idea to take photocopies of your passports, insurance documents, etc and leave these at home with someone you can contact easily in an emergency.  Take the originals on holiday with you.

Pool & Sun Safety

Read our separate topic on pool safety.  

Sun safety is very important if you don't want to ruin your holiday with painful sunburn or sunstroke.   Even if it's cloudy, you can still get sunburnt so use an appropriate sun protection and cover up.  Take particular care of the little and elderly ones in your party.

Floridians tend to be very modest and public nudity is against the law.  They won't hesitate to report you if they think you're showing too much.  It is illegal in Florida for females to be topless in any public area (which includes your villa pool area) and the wearing of swim thongs is also a problem.  This also applies to small children who should wear pants/nappies/diapers at all times whilst outside in public view.

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