Bermuda has a relatively low crime rate and most visits are trouble free. There was a time when crime was almost nonexistent in Bermuda but this is no longer the case. Violent crime does exist but mostly involves disputes between gangs of local youths.
Petty thefts do occur, mostly unattended baggage, items from rental bikes and thefts from hotel rooms. All of these can be prevented providing sensible precautions are taken i.e. don’t leave things lying around and put your valuables in the hotel safe.
The most likely crime which visitors are likely to experience is the theft of their rental bikes. These are mostly taken by local youths for joyrides. However, nearly all bike rental companies provide locks as part of the rental agreement and proper use of these reduces the chance of theft to almost nil.
Government travel advice can be obtained from:
- US Department of State
- UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Rip currents can be potential killers. Knowing how to respond if caught in one can mean the difference between life and death.
They form when incoming water builds up on the shore and tries to return to deeper water. Typically, strong wind and waves push water over a sandbar where excess water collects. This water then tries to return seaward, ripping an opening in the sand bar through which the rip current flows. A swimmer caught in the rip current can be swept out to sea. Unlike undertows, they do not pull a swimmer underwater.
The most common mistake a person caught in a rip current makes is to try and swim directly towards the shore. However, this is difficult for even the most competent of swimmers. The correct thing to do is go with the current until it dissipates, or swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip current (they are usually relatively narrow). When free of the current swim diagonally back towards the shore.
The Portuguese man-of-war is a jellyfish-like marine creature occasionally found in Bermuda. Its body consists of a gas-filled, balloon-like translucent blue float. Below the float are clusters of polyps from which hang tentacles that can reach about 150 feet in length. The sting from these tentacles is about 75% the toxicity of cobra venom. The Portuguese man-of-war is usually most prevalent in Bermuda’s waters in spring and early summer, especially after storms when they can also be seen blown onto the beach.
Few Portuguese man-of-war stings cause death, unless the recipient is extremely sensitive to venom. For the average sting treatment should be as follows:
- Remove any visible tentacles with a gloved hand or stick
- Rinse the sting with salt or fresh water
- Apply ice to control the pain
If itching persists apply 1% hydrocortisone ointment 4 times a day, and 1-2 25 mg diphenhydramine tablets every 6 hours. Previously thought to be effective, recent studies have shown that application of alcohol, papain or urine can actually cause more harm than good.
For more serious reactions, such as chest pains and breathing difficulty, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Most people don’t know it, but sharks are extremely common in Bermuda’s waters. The good news is that sharks on the whole, and especially the ones found around Bermuda, are extremely harmless creatures which rarely come close to the shore. More often than not, sharks will try and avoid direct contact with humans.
The most abundant types found around Bermuda are the Galapagos and dusky sharks, both noted for being particularly passive. The last reported shark attack in Bermuda was a minor incident over 30 years ago.