What Tennessee families need to know before vacationing in Florida

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CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – Many families across the Tennessee Valley are heading South to the Sunshine State for summer vacations, but they should remember to be careful in areas where alligators could be lurking.

The tragedy that unfolded inside a Disney resort where an alligator snatched a 2-year old boy into a lagoon, has become a teaching moment that everyone should pay close attention to. Before jumping on a plane or driving to the Florida for vacation, it might be a good idea to listen to Sara Carlson of the Tennessee Aquarium. She’s an expert on alligators.

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“Avoiding swimming in areas that are not specifically designated for swimming is very important. If it’s not designated for swimming, you don’t even want to go down to the edge of the water or close by the water. a lot of times, alligators will look for animals that are coming down to take drink or maybe on the edge of the body of water also,” Carlson said.

She’s said it’s also a good idea to avoid ponds, rivers and lakes at night when alligators normally hunt for food. Should a vacationer ever encounter an alligator, the best thing to do is keep a good distance and not go any closer.

“For the first 30 feet, an alligator can outrun or out swim the fastest human, so they are powerful predators; not aggressive by nature, but when they are hunting, they can be very powerful and we need to be sure that we are respecting their space,” Carlson said.



Although alligator attacks on humans are rare, adults typically stand a better chance of surviving a confrontation with an alligator than a child.

Now that you have been given a warning about avoiding alligators, head on down to Florida and enjoy that vacation.