Over the past 17 years that I have been on the Vineyard, I have repeatedly been astounded at least once or twice every season by the carelessness of a visitor. I don’t think that this is a unique phenomenon to Martha’s Vineyard, but is common in vacation destinations around the world. I used to work with a Director of Security who gave a unique introduction of the island to our new hires each year: “This is not Fantasy Island” he would warn (remember that show?!), and he had a point. Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful and relatively safe, relaxed community; but it is not advisable (anywhere!) to completely let your guard down and assume that anything goes because you are on vacation. For example, it is not a good idea to allow your six year old to wander down the street (or into it), without you while you window shop. OK, I know that’s an extreme example, but I’ve seen it happen…
Safety and security are awkward topics for me as a hotelier to address, because someone might wrongly extrapolate from this that Martha’s Vineyard is not a safe place to visit. I care about the experience that all of our guests have, however, and want everyone’s memories of Martha’s Vineyard to be positive. If a few safety reminders can ensure that your vacation is safe and accident free, I will take my chances here. Of course, if you are reading this, you are probably not one of those “careless visitors”; but please read on so that “the carless ones” do not take you unaware.
General security – Although the island is relatively safe, remember that ANYONE can come across on the boat. We don’t screen out the ones with criminal records… Similar to any vacation destination, you should remember to:
- Shut your room door all the way, and bolt it at night
- Do not give your room number out to strangers (or friends in front of strangers)
- Lock cars and bicycles when not in use
- Do not leave valuables in your car, or your room
- Use a safe deposit box to store valuables
- Don’t leave valuables on your beach blanket when you go for a walk or swim
- Don’t allow young children to wander off because it’s a safe place (they can still step in front of a car with a distracted driver).
General safety – During the summer the two most common obstacles to our summer fun are the sun (we love to see it, but getting too much is never a good time!) and ticks. Similar to the rest of the northeastern seaboard, Martha’s Vineyard has a healthy three season tick population of which everyone should be aware. Please keep the following tips in mind this summer:
- Wear sunscreen, and reapply regularly
- Don’t forget hats, long sleeve shirts, etc. to block the sun when you’ve had too much, so you can stay outside.
- Check for ticks after being out in fields or at the beach
- If possible when hiking, wear long pants, long sleeves, and tuck pants in socks (a real fashion statement!)
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
Everyone is familiar with the hazards of over exposure to the sun (so don’t do it – you could miss out on days of your vacation); but for more information on tick bourn disease prevention, you can refer to the Martha’s Vineyard Lyme Disease Association website.
I know that all of this seems like common sense, so thank you for bearing with me. No one needs to be paranoid about safety in this beautiful island community, but it is advisable to just be aware. The most alarming lack of safety awareness that I have seen, however, is summarized under the transportation category… another post in and of itself, so please watch this space.
So what are your safety tips when travelling? Keep in mind, you can always drink the water here on Martha’s Vineyard! Although… I don’t really recommend it if you are swimming. It’s a bit salty!