Still in shock after 2-year-old Lane Graves was attacked and killed by an alligator at a Disney World resort, parents and others have understandably been concerned about the safety of their own loved ones. To help, HollywoodLife.com spoke EXCLUSIVELY with an expert on how gator deaths can be avoided.
Lane Graves, 2, was playing at Disney’s Seven Seas Lagoon in Orlando, Florida on June 14 when an alligator dragged him into the water. And although his parents reportedly tried to pry their son from the reptile‘s jaws, the toddler was found dead the following day. And now, in the aftermath of such a horrific tragedy, parents are wondering what THEY can do to prevent this devastation from happening to their own kids. Check out our five alligator safety tips below to help keep both you and your family safe on your next Florida trip!
Florida is home to an estimated 1.3 million gators wbo grow to an average adult size of 8.2 ft for female alligators and 11.2 ft for males, according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. However, despite their large population in the Sunshine State, experts say that alligator attacks on humans are RARE. In fact, there have only been 24 fatal alligator attacks in Florida since the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began keeping records in 1948.
But nonetheless, they do happen — as demonstrated on June 14 with what happened to the Graves family. And because of that, you and your family can never be too prepared. HollywoodLife.com spoke EXCLUSIVELY to Deby Lee Cassill, who’s the Associate Chair in the biology department at USF in St. Petersburg, Florida, about the best ways to avoid/survive an alligator attack. Check out her lifesaving tips below:
1. Stay back 10 feet from the edge of any body of water that is not a designated swimming area.
“The most critical thing is to find out if waters are safe to wade in or walk beside,” Deby said. “If you are not one hundred percent sure that the body of water is free from alligators, than keep children back at least 10 feet.” Deby went on to explain that alligators can only go about halfway out of the water, and with the large ones being 10 to 13 feet long and having the power to lunge about 5 to 6 feet out of the water, 10 feet is a safe distance to keep.
2. Only swim or wade in areas with posted signs indicating they are designated swimming areas.
“If you don’t see any signs posted designating an area as safe to swim, then assume there may be alligators,” Deby explained. “Alligators move around at night and can travel miles from one body of water to another. So what didn’t have an alligator yesterday, may actually have one today.” And Deby’s right, fresh water in Florida tends to have a lot of algae, so even if you are looking for an alligator you may not be able to see them. Also keep in mind that gators can hide in 8-10 inches of water, which is why it’s so important to say back 10 feet. “They do however avoid clear lakes that are built for swimming because they are very sterile and not good hunting grounds,” Deby revealed. “There are over 8,000 lakes in Florida and they are the preferred habitat for alligators. People that are not from Florida don’t realize how important it is to be cautious around any waterway here.”
— CNN (@CNN) June 15, 2016
3. Be equally cautious around the small retention ponds located all over Florida.
“Because alligators move around, they often used these small retention ponds as a rest stop, like a short term motel,” Deby divulged. “They will lurk in the weeds and wait… Sadly, if it’s a sizable meal they will pull it in the water and drown it and wait until the body decomposes and THEN shake it apart and swallow the parts. That’s why the child had not been eaten it was stashed in the bottom.”
4. If you are being chased by an alligator run on an angle.
“Alligators can hide in 8 to 10 inches of water and have huge power to lunge forward about 5 feet. Beyond that they are clumsy and can no turn well on land,” Deby said. So in short, if you need to escape an alligator on land, your best bet is running on an angle because they cannot turn quickly.
5. If an alligator attacks, beat it on the lips and nose.
“Alligators have a lot of nerves in their lips and noses so if they have a grip on you, start hammering on that area,” Deby advised. “However once an alligator has a grip on a small child or pet, it is very difficult to intervene because they will immediately go back into the water and they have a very powerful body for swimming.”
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — are you nervous about taking your children to Disney World after what happened to the Graves family?