Safety in Numbers

We all need to feel safe, and when relocating to a new place,  and it seems that that is one of the first things we tend to feel we are missing right out of the gate.  You may have moved into the safest city, or the safest neighborhood, but the reality is that being anywhere new brings a wall of insecurity around the strongest of men. So today I thought that I would tell you how “safe” I have felt living here in the Orlando area so far, and to give you an idea of how you may have to deal with it- enjoy.

#1- Kissimmee, Reunion, Champions Gate oh my

I have to preface this by saying that we do not live IN the city of Kissimmee, but it is indeed our home address city. We live almost in the “country,” since we live between Reunion and Champions Gate, we aren’t really near anything we can walk too or even bike too. With that being said, the city area we encounter the most would have to be the 192 area and Reunion/Champion’s Gate.  Let’s start with Reunion and Champion’s Gate- I feel safe going to either of these areas.  I bank, get my gas, redbox, run for small groceries, and the occasional McD’s run to between both cities.  The drive to either is well lit, although the construction on the main road right now is a bit of a pain- it’s almost done!

I have spent significant time at a lot of the above establishments and I have never felt nervous or concerned with the company that comes in and out while I am there.  Sometimes you can be in a place and you can just “feel” the vibe of the place and know it doesn’t feel right or safe. The only place I get uneasy with is ANY Redbox when I am by myself. I have to make sure to have my CC ready and out while I am picking my movies so that I am not distracted trying to dig into my purse, which is a perfect opportunity for someone to rob me or grab me, so heads up on anyone who uses a Redbox-especially in dark places and later at night.

We have been told what cities to stay clear from, such as “Pine Hills,” “Metro West” and “Intercession City.” You couldn’t catch me near downtown Orlando at night, and in fact, I am pretty careful where I am at any time after the sun goes down.  Until you REALLY know where you are going and how the area is, you should NEVER be there after dark. 

#2- Our Neighborhood

I have felt safe in my own home, as we have never had anything to suggest otherwise. We had a sketchy character walking around our area months ago and has never been back because we watched what he was doing- anyone up to no good doesn’t want you talking to them. We made sure he knew, WE knew, he was there. 

We have had a break-in next door with some kids having a party in a foreclosed home- nothing shocking in FL since many of the homes here sit for YEARS empty. Its not ok, but it didn’t make me nervous, just AWARE.

We have recently in the Orlando area had several cars vandalized in their own drive-ways. My advice is that if you have a garage, use it for your vehicles. I do realize that because there are no basements here, many use their garages for storage. Driveways are an obvious choice for cars in Fl because of the warm weather, but it makes me feel much better to park my car in my garage every day. (Plus it holds us accountable to keep our garage clean and organized.)

Craig and I walk a lot, and you will see many walkers and runners in our neighborhood pretty much any day of the week.  We were walking after dinner for awhile, but when it was getting darker earlier, it wasn’t becoming safe because of drivers plus others walking past us in the dark.

We made sure to know our neighbors and have some of their contacts so that we always have someone to go to if something occurs in our suburb. It’s key to KNOW who your neighbors are because you have no clue who they really are, and whether they are a help or threat, you need to know.  Libby mentioned to me she used spotcrime.com where you can find out what crimes are in your potential neighborhood or in your existing one.

#3 Florida

Driving to Sarasota and Tampa this past year, I felt safe driving around them.  I believe, like everything, that once you visit it or experience it enough times, you get to know how safe a place truly is. While living in WI, I always felt safe in my city and neighborhood. But driving through Milwaukee, I was always “on edge.”  Time will tell how we feel overall about Florida.

#4 Disney World

Maybe I am just an overprotective parent, but I have seen enough in the Parks to know what I would never allow my children to do on their own for fear of their own safety.

One, when my kids were little, they were never allowed to go to the bathroom alone at the Parks. The restrooms are usually VERY busy and little ones can easily get lost and confused in there. Most are busy with their own kids to notice if something isn’t right with another- I always just took them both so that I always knew where and how they were.

Two, I never let the kids use the elevator by themselves at the Resorts. Yes, there have been reports about kids and situations that happened in the elevators- taking the extra step will give you peace of mind while on vacation.  I know, I can hear you all saying “Chill out, people are too uptight.” Well, this isn’t our grandparents generation, and we all need to wake up and take the extra steps to make sure our children are KEPT safe.

Three, when the girls were little, I always had a hand in mine. Crowds can get scary, especially for their view of them- its just a non-stop sea of legs.  So why do parents think that’s an ok time to let their 3 year old roam without anyone near them? I’m not going to debate the kid leash, only because I am happy that they are trying to at least keep an eye on them, but please keep your kids CLOSE to you when walking through the Parks.

I could go on and on forever on this, but those were my three main points. If you have a safety tip for the Parks you would like to share, please feel free to leave it in the comments section. 

#5 Day to Day Safety Tips That I Use Myself

Maybe I just watched way to much Dateline as a child and young adult, but I am always very AWARE of my surroundings. Here are a few tips that I use here in FL, and can be used in other places as well. I realize these may be obvious, but you may have moved from a small town or city where you could leave your door open all day and never flinch at it- the Orlando area is a whole ‘nother ball game.

                *My keys are out and ready before I step out of any store- to many people fumbling about in their purses which is a perfect time for a criminal to attack you.

                *Staying off my cell phone to and from my car- again- looking down all the time makes you a PRIME target to mess with.

                *Locking your car and house every time you are home or leaving home.

                *Be aware of who is coming in and out of your new neighborhood.

                *When coming up to Toll Booths, if someone is stopped in front of you and it is after dark, go in a different lane and let Sun Pass know why you couldn’t pay the toll or had to pay it differently. I have heard of a car “looking” stuck in the lane, then you come up behind them, and then one of their buddies boxes you in and you are in a horrible, and unmovable, situation.

                *People flagging you down for help or directions is always a case by case basis, but before pulling over, you may want to call a loved one to let them know of your location and what you are about to do in case something happens. If you are uncomfortable helping, call 911 or the Police and let them know that someone is in need of help.

As relocators, we can all come off as gullible because we are brand new to all of this. Use what you know of your old life, follow the same safety guidelines, and you will eventually learn as you go in your new city. I hope this can help any of you live a safer life, whether it be in FL or in your own hometown.

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14 thoughts on “Safety in Numbers

  • A lot of the cities to avoid are where the cheaper apartments and low income living are. And I know people who live in all those locations, because they either work at Disney or Universal. Have heard scary things about Metro West on the news, but from what I have heard from friends living there, they feel safe in their apartments and around the community and the same with Pine Hills.
    The other area you may hear people talk about is OBT (Orange Blossom Trail). and which side is the safe and unsafe side. If you are seeing apartments, don’t let the location automatically scare you off, go see them and then make the decision. I had gone to some that were around Mall of Millenia and felt unsafe. So, always trust your feelings and the feelings of your family members.
    Downtown Orlando at night is like any other big city, it is for the club goers and people wanting to get drinks after work, would I go alone, no, but I would go with a few friends. 🙂
    But like Amy said, as long as you use your head and research your city, the more you know and find out the more comfortable you will get.
    And something I had noticed working at both Universal and Disney, parents will drop off their children ages 8-14 to go and do the parks by themselves, I had thought this odd, but as a coworker told me, these kids have probably been coming since they were babies and it was no different than dropping them off at a playground or the mall.

  • Great tips, Amy. Also, thank you for mentioning some not so safe areas to live in. I really appreciate all and any information you blog about about relocating to the Disney area.

  • Excellent points! There’s a lot of talk about living inside the bubble or bubbles – as in Celebration or Windermere, which is where we lived the first time. You have to be extra careful in the Orlando area because one bubble may be right next to an unsafe area. I felt like I had more room to breathe in Tampa Bay – there are more safe neighborhoods than unsafe neighborhoods there. Also, you might want to get one of those electronic passes for the tolls – you just drive through the prepaid lane and never have to stop – it just gets deducted from your account as you pass through the “eye.”

  • I always held hands with my children when in public places. When my hands were full (carrying something or whatever) I insisted that my child put his or her hand in MY pocket so the connection wasn’t broken. BUT – children will get excited and may give in to the temptation to wander away even a little bit, which is nerve-wracking! Before outings I always made sure that my kids were all wearing the same color tops and bottoms so that in the unlikely event one of them strayed, I could look at the other kid and tell authorities, “red t-shirt, khaki pants”, or whatever the daily wardrobe was. This meant no pink shirts for my daughter (her brother wasn’t a pink kind of kid LOL) but she survived! I never had to report one of my children at the missing kids desk, but I always knew that if I had to, at least I wouldn’t have to strain my brain to remember what he or she had on.

  • I can’t speak much for the other areas but I do drive through Pine Hills whenever I have to go into work in that area (weekly lately) and that area seems dodgy to me even during the day. I don’t think I’d want to find myself there on purpose at night… except maybe for when the Central FL Fair is going on. And I’m from Chicago. 😉

    Mark.

  • Teach your children that if they get separated (don’t scare them with the word lost) and they are in the parks, to look for someone with a name tag and tell them you got separated from your party. If they are old enough, have them memorize your cell phone, or stick a note in their pockets with your basic info (don’t give too much information either.)
    And keep your wits about you, while realizing that others may not. Two weeks ago we were at AK with DH’s sister and her daughter (who has Down Syndrome, but is functional and 34). DH was holding DD (5 yrs. old) by the hand and I was walking right ahead of him with DS (5, they’re twins). It was very crowded and I kept looking back to make sure everyone was with us. At one point I saw DH run after his niece, who was going the wrong way, and leading her to where my SIL and I were, but I didn’t see my daugther. I freaked out, asked him where she was and he was confused and thought she was with me. I ran back the way we had come and found her with 2 cast members. She had gone to a cast member, just like I had told her to do and told them she was lost. They were walking her to the lost kids place. Yes, I gave DH hell for letting go of her hand to go after his niece, who had a cell phone and would have called us if she got lost. I never want to go through that again.

  • Great Blog!! Very good info!! Do you have any tips, advice or experience avoiding/coming in contact with the wildlife example snakes, alligators, etc. That is always my biggest fear when going to Florida and I always tell my kids stay on the paths don’t go into the brush and stuff like that but always looking for other safety tips with that. 🙂

    • The snake tip I know is not really helpful. If they have slit (cat’s eyes), stay away from them. If they have round eyes, they are not poisonous. I just don’t think I want to get close enough to them to look in their eyes! 😉