In Phuket, it’s easy for people new to the island to be distracted by their exotic new surroundings. The different culture and way of life, the sights, the sounds, and the flavors are all vying for your attention. As if it’s not enough of a chore for parents to keep an eye on wandering and curious children, being in a foreign place introduces an entirely new realm of potential ways for kids to get themselves into trouble. It should first be noted that Phuket, and Thailand as a whole, is quite safe in terms of any intentional harm. Random violent crime, especially against foreigners, is uncommon. That being said, there are dangers in Phuket and kids certainly have a way of finding them when given the chance.
By far the greatest danger is the island’s roads. Sadly, there is no sugar-coating the fact that Thailand has some of the most dangerous roads in the world. The first, and most obvious, step is to be extra vigilant with small children around not only roads but parking lots and anywhere cars and motorcycles may be driving. Some drivers show no concern for the safety of others and drive absurdly fast in inappropriate areas. On top of that, there is basically no policing of the roads so drivers can operate vehicles under the influence of drugs and alcohol with little repercussions.
For the sake of convenience, many locals and foreigners alike use scooters and motorbikes to get around close to home. Amazingly, although the dangers of the roads are well known, it is all too common to see kids on motorbikes without helmets. Even low-speed accidents can result in serious injury or death on a motorbike and wearing a helmet can be the difference between life and death.
Another common risk to kids in Phuket is dangerous animals. Various small stinging creatures are the most likely to be a threat. Even in more urbanized areas of the island, one can encounter scorpions, centipedes, and a whole spectrum of stinging ants and flying insects. While the majority of these may typically only inflict a painful, and memorable, sting, there’s an increased risk for small kids and those with allergies. While you can’t simply lock your kids inside all of the time, teaching them about the local flora and fauna not only educates them about the natural world but gives them the knowledge to help keep themselves safe.
Then of course there are snakes. Fortunately, snake bites are not as common as many people assume, but there are several species in Phuket that are life-threatening, and not just to kids. It seems that cobras and vipers are the most commonly encountered venomous snakes on the island. In most cases, snakes don’t bite unless provoked or cornered. Snakes, and aforementioned stinging insects, love to curl up underneath objects. Keeping the area around your house uncluttered is one way to minimize the possibility of a snake encounter. If your child, or any more, is bitten by a snake it is very important to at least get a good photo of it or catch it to receive proper medical treatment.