Safety Tips for travel in Barbados
Barbados is truly the Gem of the Caribbean Sea and we are fortunate that Barbados does not have a high crime rate, however, it is important to 'pack your common sense' when traveling to any destination.
Listed below are a few safety health and safety tips for traveling to Barbados.
• Lock your hotel room door and sliding patio doors when not around or overnight.
• Do not entertain strangers in your hotel room or villa.
• Use the Safety Deposit boxes available at your hotel for valuables and travel documents.
• Do not leave valuable items unattended while at the beach.
• Do not walk back to your hotel or villa alone, particularly if you are a woman. Travel in groups or take a taxi.
• Drink a lot of water while on the beach. This helps the body to stay hydrated.
• Visitors should reserve swimwear for the beach, please ensure shorts and vest or t-shirts are worn while getting to and from the beaches.
• Camouflage clothing is not allowed to be worn in Barbados. This is an illegal offense and is reserved for the Barbados Defense Force.
• Mosquitoes and Sand flies traditionally 'make themselves known' at sunset and throughout the evening. Everyone reacts differently to these insect bites; some are not bothered while others with more sensitive skin may become very uncomfortable. Ask your pharmacist for suggestions to keep these 'critters' at bay and promote quick healing.
• Barbados is surrounded by a series of coral reefs as a result, Sea Urchins commonly referred to as Cobblers or Sea Eggs can be found on rocks close to shore. They resemble a tennis ball with long black spines or short white spines. Should you happen to step on one while exploring DO NOT try to remove the spines from beneath the skin as this will possibly lead to infection. Rest assure, they will dissolve and disappear but it is wise to soak the area with an antiseptic. If the spines are protruding from the skin, you may try to remove them carefully. Our suggestion? Don't step on them and if snorkeling wear protective reef shoes.
• Many of our West and South Coast beaches are fringed by shady foliage called Manchineel Trees.Some hotels have labeled these trees or placed red bands around the trunks but not all have chosen to do so. While Manchineel Trees look inviting, they carry what looks like small green berries/apples. Don't be fooled! They are poisonous and can also blister your skin. Be particularly careful when choosing shelter from the rain as the water drops from this tree can irritate the skin and create uncomfortable blisters. Coconut Trees are not always cleaned in time to prevent coconuts and their large branches from falling. It is therefore not advisable to sit or park your cars beneath these trees.
• Regardless of your skin tone, the sun can damage your skin. A tan is the goal for most visitors, while the sun burnt look is not desirable. It is advisable to apply sunscreen evenly 30 minutes prior to venturing outdoors. The most damaging rays are found between 12:00 am and 3:00 pm. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is 'if your shadow is longer than you are tall' the sun's rays are not as strong or damaging.
• Narcotics: Drugs are illegal in Barbados and severe penalties can be imposed if caught in possession of banned substances.
• Driving: Drinking and driving is an offense as in most other places of the world. Our roads are narrow and we drive on the LEFT hand side of the road. If you have been drinking, be responsible and call a taxi.
• Sea Safety: It is always advisable to stay within your depth when swimming anywhere.
• The West and South Coast of the island are generally quite calm and safe for swimming. However, sea conditions change and there may be days when you may see flags on the beach indicating dangerous currents. Yellow means proceed with caution and Red is a strong warning that you should stay out of the sea.
• Our beaches are not all manned by lifeguards therefore discretion should always be used when venturing into the ocean. Jet Skis and Wave Runners are fun and popular amongst visitors to the island. However, one should not go out too far as engines could fail and ocean currents may be stronger than anticipated.
• The East Coast of the island is home to the Atlantic Ocean and is extremely dangerous. The sea here tends to be unpredictable with under currents and large waves - always ask where it is safe to swim and never swim alone.
Listed below are a few Emergency Numbers for your reference:
All in all Barbados is a very safe country and we hope that you enjoy your stay with us and that it proves to be both safe and enjoyable.
What is a Hurricane?
A hurricane is potentially a very dangerous weather system that may result in damage to person and property. In the tropics where Barbados is located, the term “hurricane” is synonymous with “tropical cyclone”, and refers to a weather system that produces extremely strong winds, thunderstorms, tornadoes, torrential rain, high waves, and storm surge. They are born and sustained over large bodies of warm water, and lose their strength over large land masses.
The Government of Barbados, through its various agencies notifies the general public when such a weather system approaches the Easter Caribbean region. Notices and bulletins are given over radio and television and are repeated at regular intervals. Visitors to the island are generally given enough advance notice to allow them to evacuate the island if they so chose.
Tropical cyclones are classified, into three main groups, based on intensity.
• Tropical Depression
An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds* of 38 mph (33 kt**) or less. However it is already a low pressure system.
• Tropical Storm
An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph (34-63 kt)
An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 kt) or higher
* Sustained winds are defined as a 1-minute average wind measured at about 33 ft (10 meters) above the surface.
** 1 knot = 1 nautical mile per hour or 1.15 statute miles per hour. Abbreviated as "kt".
Hurricanes are categorized according to the strength of their winds using the SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE SCALE. A Category 1 storm has the lowest wind speeds, while a Category 5 hurricane has the strongest. These are relative terms, because lower category storms can sometimes inflict greater damage than higher category storms, depending on where they strike and the particular hazards they bring. In fact, tropical storms can also produce significant damage and loss of life, mainly due to flooding.
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes travel at speeds up to 40 knots across the ground. The systems may be up to 500 miles across and influence weather even beyond these limits.
Each tropical storm and hurricane is given a name. This enables a number of storms to be easily identified particularly when there are two or more systems active at the same time.
How will I know there is a hurricane or storm imminent?
The hurricane season is June to November. Listen to the local radio and television, your neighbours and to the site manager.
A Scenario for a hurricane passing over Barbados
The winds will begin to increase in strength; at first gusty and from the North-East. Wind speeds slowly increase and are accompanied by rains squalls. Gradually the winds become ferocious (wind speeds well in excess of 100mph) with pelting, heavy rain (measured in feet per day not inches!) Flooding in low lying areas is to be expected.
As the “eye” of the hurricane passes over the island, the wind and often the rain will suddenly cease, or considerably decrease in strength, for a short period of time. This is not an indication that the hurricane has passed, for soon after hurricane conditions will return with the wind now coming from the opposite direction. Depending on the ground speed of the weather system, it can take possibly 8 to 12 hours for the worst weather to pass. The further away Millennium is from the centre of the weather system the less the impact will be and the time scale will be altered accordingly.
The strong winds will cause structural damage to many buildings, bring down power and telephone lines, up root trees etc. Debris such as signs, roofing material and small items left outside become lethal flying missiles in hurricanes. Do not attempt to go outside or travel at the height of a storm.
The greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is storm surge, which historically has claimed 9 out of every ten victims.
All services and infrastructure will be severely disrupted; indeed the power company will shutdown power to the entire island as soon as hurricane conditions are present. It may take days or even weeks to restore services to normal. Food supplies will be disrupted because of the loss of power for refrigeration and processing.
What to do on hearing of a warning
1. Check existing food stocks. Buy in a stock of food and supplies enough to sustain your and your group for at least a week/10 days. These should comprise of:
a. For the short term - Bread, Vegetables and Fruit which can be kept in the refrigerator; even if this is not working the ripening of fruit will be delayed. Buy fruit and vegetables that do not require cooking.
b. For the longer term - Canned meats and fruit and dry foods, such as crisps, biscuits etc, which do not require refrigeration and will not deteriorate if kept dry. Vegetables that do not generally ripen and will last longer term e.g. potatoes and other root vegetables.
2. Ensure an adequate supply of candles, matches and gas cooking needs, baby nappies and baby requisites. If you are on medication, ensure that your supply is adequate for at least a week.
3. Fill water containers with fresh water -1 gallon per person per day for 3-7 days. (Bleach in water for preservation)
4. Buy batteries for portable radio and torches.
5. Fill car with fuel; fuel pumps will not work without power.
6. Draw extra cash as ATM will not be functioning without power. Banks may not quickly re-open as without power computers will be down.
7. If possible obtain some sheets of ½” plywood as protection for windows and doors. These should be fixed directly to the wall with plugs and screws. Depending on the amount of ply available secure the doors and windows in the master bedroom first and then the master bedroom’s bathroom. If sufficient ply is available carry out the same in the following order - lounge windows and doors, kitchen, utility room, bedroom two, bedroom 2 bathroom, bedroom 3 and finally bedroom 3 bathroom. Boarding externally is best but internally will still be of enormous benefit
8. With or without boarding, tape up windows to all rooms with gaffer tape.
9. Place lounge carpet under bed in bedroom 2. Remove all glass tabletops and store under bed in bedroom 2.
10. Remove all pictures and mirrors from the walls and store in bathroom of bedroom 2.
11. Remove all ornaments and store in cupboards.
12. Remove all items from balcony and lay flat in lounge.
13. Remove mattress from bed in master bedroom and place against the master bedroom’s windows. Place bed frame on its side and use to hold mattress against door to Romeo and Juliet patio. Back-up bed with other furniture.
14. Bring chairs and cushions, mattresses, towels, clothing, wet weather gear and sturdy shoes, etc into master bedroom.
15. Move to master bedroom - books, toys and games, first aid kit, medicines prescription drugs, radio and spare batteries valuable documents (travel documents and passports) store in a waterproof bag, toiletries, moisture wipes.
16. Pull all curtains in the unit. This will help contain any glass that breaks.
17. If equipment is available mastic around the door of the Romeo and Juliet patio and front door joints on the outside. (Crawl back through window).
18. Ensure telephone book and list of emergency numbers are by the telephone.
19. Park car away from building and in as sheltered a position as possible
Hurricanes have been known to produce over nine feet of rain as they pass.
During the height of the storm:
• Do not venture outside at any costs; if anyone is injured you will be unable to get medical help or go to a hospital.
• Retreat to Master bedroom - master bedroom, bathroom and lobby will be the safest areas within the unit.
The biggest danger is from flying objects outside the building; roof liles are likely to be lost. But window and door glass may become broken by flying objects; this allows wind and rain access to the inside of the unit and internal objects may then become missiles.
• Listen to the radio (portable) for bulletins.
• Remain in master bedroom do not venture through the house. Do not stand by windows. Do not venture outside.
After the storm
Preserve water supplies. The hot water system, if undamaged, will provide about 40 gallons of water, which will be drinkable when allowed to cool.
Flush toilets with water from the swimming pool.
Listen to the news on the radio and note any instruction. It may become necessary to boil all drinking water received through the main supply because of contamination elsewhere.
Keep fridge door closed as much as possible.
Check that all water brought in for drinking if of a potable quality. (Boil if in doubt).
Do not eat any food that has been contaminated by flooding.
Wash any tins of food contaminated by flooding in soap and water before opening.
Collect kindling for possible fires over which you can boil water and cook food if necessary.
Listen to the radio for instructions about fresh food, medical help etc.
Tidy up and assess damage. Make a list of damage to the building, pass a copy to site managers.
Make a list of damaged household effects.
Assist any neighbour who is injured, old or infirm.
Listen to the radio for any instructions issued by the Government, police or any other statutory authority.
Be aware that over fifty percent of the population of Barbados has never lived through a hurricane; the last one was in 1955 – over 51 years ago.
MORE INFORMATION ON SAFETY, PREDICTIONS AND VISUALS ETC IS AVAILABLE FROM THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTRE WEB SITE ON www.nhc.noaa.gov