Switzerland Safety, security and travel insurance

Safety and Security in Switzerland

Switzerland is considered one of the safest countries to live in and visit. For years, it has ranked high in the list of the most secured places in the world. In 2019, it landed on the 11th spot and in 2022 it landed on the 10th spot of the safest places on Earth according to the Global Peace Index, great news for families visiting the country.

Historically, the country has its neutrality, designed to promote the country’s safety and security. Four factors give the country its reputation for being one of the safest places, and they are the following:

  • Low crime rate
  • Gun regulations
  • Equal rights
  • Law-abiding citizens

Even though Switzerland is a safe country, you still need to be careful. Be responsible and take these precautions.

Keep purses and wallets secure

As mentioned earlier, pickpocketing is common in tourist zones so to avoid becoming a victim of such crimes, men should put their wallets in their front pockets instead of in the back and women should put their purse straps over their necks. Always pay attention when in large crowds. Most pickpockets often operate in large crowds so that victims don’t even realize what has happened.

Always bring sun cream

The mountains account for 60% of the area of Switzerland, so make it a point to always bring sun cream as the sun can be extreme at high altitudes. The last thing you want is for the family to have a terrible sunburn while on vacation.

Be cautious in high altitudes

Don’t be in a hurry to ascend high altitudes, so that your body has time to adjust when traversing mountainous areas. A few symptoms that might spell trouble are nose bleeds, dizziness, headaches, and difficulty breathing. Persons who have a history of lung or heart disease should consult their physicians before heading to places with high altitudes. The same goes for families with little kids.

Families with children aged 2 and younger should check with their doctor before visiting the mountains as it may not be advisable for the little ones to stay at extremely high elevations. Rapid ascents and descents may also be uncomfortable for them.

Stay on marked paths

Hiking is one of the must-do things when in Switzerland and if you decide to go hiking, make sure that you stay on marked paths. Refrain from taking shortcuts no matter how safe they may appear. Switzerland has its fair share of poisonous snakes, mostly found in the mountains, and although they are rarely fatal, they can still cause injury.

Check the weather

Keep yourself updated on weather conditions by checking with your hotel or the tourist office. Switzerland has mountainous regions which often come with constantly changing weather patterns.

Obey traffic rules

The Swiss have stringent traffic laws that they make sure to enforce. Cameras are everywhere and traffic fines apply to everyone, locals and visitors alike. Travellers caught speeding often return home to find tickets waiting for them in the mail and those found travelling with invalid bus or train tickets often pay steep fines.

Take only what you need

Don’t take all your belongings when roaming the city. Granted, you’ll need more with kids in tow but keep in mind that it’s safer to leave valuables in the hotel room safe so you don’t lose them accidentally.

Update your insurance

Travel insurance is a must, whether you are trying to Switzerland or other countries. If you and the family are planning to ski or hike, purchase mountain search and rescue insurance. Keep in mind that without insurance, sending out a search and rescue team can cost as much as $25,000.

Comply with warnings and signs

The Swiss are hardly the type of people who would spend their time and money on meaningless litigation. So, always comply with warnings and signs. To the uninitiated, the no swimming signs in delightful little streams in the Alpine regions may be a bit over the top. However, the reason for these signs is the existence of hydroelectric power plants nearby which release massive amounts of water without prior warning.

Always carry your identity card or passport

To avoid having problems with immigration and the police, it is best to always carry your passport or identity card, especially when you’re travelling alone. The police have the right to ask for anyone’s identity card anytime. Failure to show your identity card gives police the right to take you to the station.

Do not be afraid to render assistance

One conspicuous difference in Switzerland is that they have stringent Good Samaritan laws that make it a person’s civic duty to help people in need without putting oneself at risk. People are more willing to help in emergencies. However, travellers must be aware that the same applies to them if they see someone in danger.

Denying assistance to anyone in trouble is punishable under criminal law. Whereas most Americans don’t want to get involved with others to avoid getting any civil liability, in Switzerland it’s virtually impossible to take any action against someone who renders assistance, be it civil or otherwise.

Consumption of alcohol

The minimum age for consumption of alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer in Switzerland is 16 years old. However, in Ticino it is 18 years old. In Switzerland, it is legal to consume alcohol in public and there is nothing unusual in a handful of teenagers drinking a six-pack on public transport.


Health and Medical, Emergencies, & Insurance in Switzerland

Switzerland’s medical care facilities are among the best in the world and the country has no particular health risks. However, the authorities require immunization against contagious diseases for travellers who have been in an infected area during the 14 days immediately preceding arrival.

When travelling to Switzerland, you need to ensure that you have an adequate supply of prescription medicines, as well as a written prescription with the generic name of the brand. Generally, German and French drugs are available in the country. You should also carry vital drugs in your carry-on baggage and update your travel insurance to cover medical emergencies.

Healthcare

According to the World Health Organization, Switzerland is number 20 worldwide in terms of healthcare. The country has one of the most expensive healthcare systems which is about 12% of the gross domestic product, but it is also of the highest standard. Every person living in the country must have an accident and basic health insurance.

Unlike other members of the European Union, the country’s healthcare system is neither financed by employers nor tax-based. It is paid for by individual contributions to the Swiss health insurance schemes. Most choose to pay an additional fee to enjoy the basic cover that comes with supplementary private health insurance.

The country has one of the biggest private health sectors worldwide that offers excellent choices but the healthcare expenditure as GDP percentage is also the highest in Europe.

Staying healthy in Switzerland

Generally, there is no problem with the food and water in the country and strict rules govern restaurants. Water everywhere is drinkable unless you see a sign that says Non-potable.

Emergencies

Dial 117 for police emergencies, 144 for an ambulance, and 118 to report a fire. Call 140 for roadside emergencies and for accidents in mountains, call the air rescue service at 1414.

Public hospitals and clinics

The country has numerous hospitals and clinics and public hospitals will admit anyone in the case of an emergency. There are also clinics referred to as permanent which open 24 hours a day that are located near major stations, such as Basel, Zurich, and Lucerne.

They are allowed to treat non-urgent cases and medical issues without the need for an appointment. However, medical costs can easily add up, so it’s advisable to take out travel insurance with excellent coverage to avoid paying costs out of pocket.

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