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Safety and Emergencies for Expats in Spain

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: July 2013

Safety

Spain is predominantly a safe country. As far as natural phenomena are concerned, the summer sun probably presents the greatest danger. Summers can be extremely hot, and the risk of heat stroke is serious. To avoid heat stroke, make sure you drink enough water and wear loose, lightweight clothing. Above all, arrange your day so you’re not in the sun when it is very hot, taking breaks from the sun in cooler places whenever possible.

Crime levels are low compared with other parts of the developed world. The situation is slightly worse in Madrid and Barcelona, and in the major tourist areas, that is, along the Costas and on the Balearic and Canary Islands. In most parts of the country you are unlikely to experience any trouble. Walking the streets in the daytime is mostly safe.

Nevertheless, street crime does exist in Spain, especially in busy areas. In addition to pickpocketing and mugging, distraction theft is common. This typically works as follows: the first thief holds your attention in some way, such as by showing you a map, while the second thief filches around your person for what they can find. Cars with foreign number plates are also targeted in a similar way. You should never leave valuables in sight in your vehicle.

As in any country, theft prevention is about being aware of what is going on around you and keep your belongings with you at all times. You can help reduce your chances of being stolen from by keeping items such as mobile phones and laptops out of sight as much as possible. It is important to take out insurance on the contents of your home and your belongings.

The incidence of sexual assaults is low in Spain. Nevertheless, expats are more likely to be targeted, and you do need to be careful to avoid situations where you are vulnerable. If drinking in a public place, make sure you know where your friends are at all times. Also, make sure at all times that there is someone in your group who has an eye on your drinks. Don’t accept drinks from others.

It is important to use only licensed taxis. All licensed taxis have official symbols on the side and driver’s photocard inside the cab. It is possible to flag down any licensed taxi, and there are also taxi ranks in most cities.

 

Emergencies

In an emergency, where you need the police, ambulance or fire services, dial 112 from any telephone.. In addition to Spanish and local languages in the relevant regions, English speakers are available to take your call. In some cases Arabic, French, German and Portuguese speakers may also be available.

The above emergency number is only for serious situations that need immediate attention. If a crime has occurred but the suspected culprits are not in the vicinity, you should report the crime. You can do this either by visiting the local police station (Policía Nacional) or post of the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil). While there, you need to make una denuncia, a police report. Alternatively, you can telephone the National Police on 902 102 112.

 

 




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