Search This Blog

Friday, November 29, 2019

Snowbird Safety Tips

By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy flickr
Living in Florida means never knowing when guests are going to drop in.  Whether we’re talking about relatives or a long-lost college roommate, once the snow starts to fall up north, it’s guaranteed that guests will start lining up to pay a visit.  When house guests do arrive, they’ll invariably head for the water.  Whether that means a trip to the beach or the pool, one thing’s for certain; they’ll overdo it when it comes to fun in the sun.  They can also wind up in trouble in the surf.  To give all you Floridians the lowdown on snowbird safety, I decided to dedicate this week’s blog to the occasion.

1.      Who needs sunscreen? – The first problem most snowbirds face is sunburn.  That’s because most of them come from climes where the summer sun is a fraction of the power of the Florida sun.  This usually translates to snowbirds thinking incorrectly that they don’t need sunscreen when they winter down here.  Big mistake.  Not only can the winter sun give northerners a sunburn that will make them spend the next week lying under wet sheets while their backs peel, it could result in a trip to the hospital if they get sun poisoning.  Being a boater, I always carry a big bottle of sunblock that I urge all my winter guests to help themselves to.  In fact, I pretty much insist they use the stuff since their complexion upon arrival is almost as white as this page.  I also keep a photo handy of my Uncle Aldo who came down here one year from the Poconos for a two-week vacation, only to head home a few days later after doing his impersonation of a boiled lobster.

2.      Seashore Survival School – Other than avoiding sunstroke, I try to give my guests the upper hand when it comes to dealing with the seashore.  While some of my family are familiar with the Jersey shore, few of them have a clue as to the perils associated with Florida beaches, especially when the surf is high.  Most northerners have never experienced rip currents.  All it takes is a few seconds to have one pull a bather off their feet before carrying them out to the deep water.  I tell my guests that should they encounter a rip, don’t fight it, swim parallel to the shore to escape its clutches.  I also tell any with kids to never take their eyes off their children when they are in the water.  All it takes is a momentary lapse for a child to wind up in trouble in the surf. 

Image courtesy flickr
3.       Pool Party Perils – For those of you who have a swimming pool, either heated or not, beware that they are kid magnets.  The number one cause of death to children aged 1 to 4 is drowning.  Therefore, if you have a pool, make sure that kids are kept well away from it.  Even if your backyard pool is fenced off, that doesn’t mean a kid can’t get to it.  Kids climb trees, so scaling a 3-foot chain link fence is child’s play.  Since most backyard pools are only fenced to keep people out of your yard, this is an even bigger danger, since kids allowed to play in your backyard can all too easily fall in your pool.  Just as you’d never let your kids swim on a beach where there isn’t a lifeguard present, I advise you to never let any child be alone near your backyard pool.  Even with adult supervision, the kids need to be warned not to run near the pool.  This is especially important to tots or children who don’t know how to swim.

4.      Boater Blues – Just like the beach or a swimming pool, taking guests out for a boat trip has it’s share of perils.  What starts off as a fun day on the water can turn tragic if any of your passengers fall overboard.  A good friend of mine who is a licensed captain never even lets his kids walk down the dock without wearing a life jacket.  The same should go with your adult passengers.  Not about wearing a life jacket on the dock, but you should insist they all wear one while on board any boat.  While out of town guests may have been on boats before and may insist they know how to swim, depending on the speed of your boat or what happens in the moments before they fall overboard could spell the difference between life and death.  My advice is not to take the chance and tell guests to either wear a life-jacket or they can enjoy the boat while it’s tied to the dock.

Image courtesy flickr
5.      Kids Corner – If your guests bring their children, this magnifies the possibility of peril.  Face it, kids even under the best of circumstances are an accident looking for a place to happen.  When they are away from home, the unfamiliarity they experience with their surroundings magnifies the problem.  Not only do you have to worry about your nieces and nephews at the beach, aboard your boat or near your swimming pool but around your pets as well.  Even the most even-tempered cat or dog can wind up scratching, biting or knocking down a child.  Or the kids can wind up injuring your pets.  Being a dog owner myself, I always take the time to introduce any kids to my dogs and my dogs to the kids.  Then I tell the kids what they should and shouldn’t do around the dogs.  I trust my dogs to know how to handle the kids, but if the kids play too rough or accidentally step on a tail, any dog or cat can snap or scratch.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at


Breaking Down is Hard to Do

By Catherine Powell If you’ve ever spent hours waiting by the side of the road for a tow truck in the dead of night because your car b...