One of the risks of recreating outside is that of encountering animals and possible animal attacks. Those encounters hardly ever go well for the parties involved. Take, for example, the death of a two-year-old boy in Florida after he was attacked by an alligator in June 2016. Not only was the boy killed, but officials also hunted down and killed the animal that was most likely responsible.
However, there are things that parents can do to make sure their children are safe from alligators and other dangerous animals. First of all, it’s important to remember that alligator attacks are still relatively rare. There have only been 24 fatal gator attacks in Florida since 1948. Plus, authorities say that humans, especially young children, are often easily mistaken for prey.
Know the Risks
It’s essential to know what animals you might encounter when heading outside, and more specifically, how to avoid attacks. Alligators, in particular, inhabit freshwater lakes and canals in certain parts of the country. It’s safe to assume that alligators are present in every body of fresh water in Florida and that they travel.
Despite their chunky appearance, alligators can move at speeds up to 20 mph, and they are masters at ambush. They camouflage themselves in the water and can thrust their bodies up to grab prey. Alligators then drag their prey underwater to drown it. They are most active from dusk until dawn, so it makes sense to avoid the shores of lakes and canals during those times.
The best way to avoid a gator attack is never to approach an alligator or attempt to feed one. Stay as far away as possible and avoid swimming or wading in fresh bodies of water. Always take serious “no swimming” signs. If you’re close to a lake or pond, keep your eyes out for large swirls in the water, as that’s a sign an alligator is beneath the surface.
Keep children and pets away from the edge of lakes and canals, and don’t allow them to sit or wade in shallow water. Always know where your children are around water and stay close to them.
What to Do During Encounters
If you do encounter an alligator, there are things you can do to avoid an attack. For the most part, humans are able to outrun gators on land. If someone puts up a big enough fight, it’s possible that the gator will let go. Gators try to avoid people, so the more noise you make, the less likely gators will be around.
Always seek immediate medical attention for an alligator bite and report any alligators that are threatening humans or property.