Many of you and your families are coming to Spain from a stateside duty station. For some of you this may be your first overseas tour. The following are some tips that can help you and your family has a safe and fun tour:
LIVING ON THE ECONOMY
One of the services provided by the Naval Station is the Housing Office. The Housing staff, along with your sponsor, will help set up house hunting tours and work with you on your lease. Be sure to follow their instructions on contracts, rental deposits, and pre-contract inspections. Electrical work performed in homes is not always done by a certified worker. This means the electrical system may not be wired properly. Most chimneys lack dampers and flue designs that can lead to fire smoke not drawing out of the fireplace.
Spanish homes are designed and constructed very differently from homes in the United States, especially the heating and cooling systems. Interior insulation and central heating/cooling are rarely included in the housing designs. Portable electric, butano, and kerosene heaters are the typical ways the Spanish homes are heated. (Please visit the Kerosene fuel Tips in the Safety Topics Section for safe operation information.) Most homes have beautiful tiled flooring which are cold in the winter. Rugs placed on the floor should be secured to prevent trip and fall hazards. Use caution in placing rugs at the top of stairs. Be sure to check out the nonskid material on the back of the rugs since most of the lightweight silk types do not have this feature.
Most homes have 220-volt electrical systems. Prior to signing a rental lease in the off-base areas, do a thorough inspection for signs of electrical problems such as non-working receptacles and hanging wires from the ceiling and on floors. Please ensure your appliances match or adapt to this voltage. Be careful not to overload circuit breakers, transformers, and other electrical units in your home.
Storage in most homes is very limited it is very easy to turn your house into a fireman's nightmare by blocking halls and exits with boxes. Practice safe storage methods by limiting the height of stacked items and locate items away from doors, windows, and frequent walk paths. Watch out for items that can be pulled down by small children. If you use mildew protection chemicals/products for stored items, please ensure children and pets cannot reach them. Most of the products contain toxic chemicals and are harmful when ingested.
Many homes in Spain have what are termed "Gypsy" Bars on the windows. Usually these bars are not removable in case of an emergency. When looking for a home, check out the number and location of all available exits. A good idea is to have alternate escape routes from the home and practice them in fire drills with your children. Ensure working smoke detectors are placed in strategic areas of your home.
WARNING! Mediterranean Pine trees produce pinecones can become homes for toxic caterpillars. These caterpillars have toxins, which can be absorbed through the skin of humans and pets. Pinecones should be removed from the yard as soon as they drop from the trees. In some areas, people can be hired to remove the cones from the trees before they drop. A word about trees: It is illegal to cut down a tree without the proper GOVERNMENT authorization. For safety tips on gardening and lawn safety, please refer to the Safety Topics Section.
Spain, Portugal and Morocco are great places to buy pottery. However, when purchasing pottery for eating/drinking purposes, please use caution. Some items contain lead paint in the glazes, which can leach out when used with acidic or hot liquids and foods. User friendly Lead testing kits, can be purchased online and sometimes are available in the Video Mart for ~$12-15.
To get an idea of the great safe shopping or historical tour areas, try using the ITT tours first. These tours include the safe areas and are very reasonable. Also, your sponsor and co-workers can give you tips on where to visit and places to stay. Also, they can direct you to the local travel agencies for trips throughout Europe. For staying in hotels in other foreign cities, please consult the travel books and online evaluations since many local travel agencies are not familiar with the locations of hotels in cities such as Paris, Hamburg, and Berlin.
CRIME IN THE LOCAL AREA
Prior to leaving the US, remove all bumper stickers and other decals that can mark your car as American. Some parts, mostly in the north of Spain have trouble with some radical political groups. Off-duty clothing that identifies your military status, should be worn on B and at your residence only. American flags should not be displayed at your home. While you are proud to be an American, you do not want to identify yourself or your home to terrorists.
Crime rate in this area is very low. Security reports that there is a minimal amount of car and home break- ins. Prior to signing the lease check out the neighborhood very closely. Some neighborhoods are contain summer homes and during the winter are almost ghost towns. Condominiums at the beach areas around Las Redes and Vistahermosia fall into this category. Car and home theft usually focus around confiscating money and small items. Keep your home doors locked. Let someone know when you will be away from home for a extended period of time. Timers for lights are a good way to make it appear as if you are at home. Remove your base pass from your windshield when leaving the base. Put away cassette tapes, CDs, loose change and other articles out of sight in the car. Items of value left in plain view of an unattended car invites break-ins. Bicycles, especially expensive mountain bikes, should have sturdy locks and never left out in the open.
Since this beautiful country has a low crime rate, the streets are generally safe at night. Both the Spanish and Americans walk very late at night in the residential areas. A word of caution, being alone and intoxicated in certain bar areas may pose a safety risk. It is not advisable to over-indulge in alcohol when frequenting the downtown nightlife in the Rota areas..
On board the base is a DODDS elementary and high school named David Glasgow Farragut (DGF). The students are provided a basic American education with opportunities to participate in school extracurricular activities held throughout Europe. This command supports the schools through various programs including health promotion-nutrition activity days, volunteer tutoring, coaching, and team consultation services for special needs students.
Transportation to and from school is different from the States. The elementary buses have a bilingual monitor onboard that accompanies the Spanish driver. Buses identical to US tour buses are used for the schools. The lone identification marking for the school is an 8 x 11 placard with two children on it. This placard is located on the passenger's side in the front and on the driver's side of the rear window. When looking for a house, please consult bus routes at the School Transportation Office prior to signing a lease. Due to narrow streets in many locations the buses cannot reach some areas especially in the city centers so your child walking several blocks to a school pick-up area.
An important item: Kindergarten children must be accompanied by an adult for pick-up and drop-off from the buses. Passes are required for riding the buses. Traffic does NOT STOP for the unloading or loading of children off base. The School Transportation Office and the Security Department conduct traffic safety training for all students to prevent mishaps when getting on and off the buses. For school bus and traffic issues, please refer to the Traffic Safety Section. The Safety Topic Section contains many child-related issues collected from various sources including the Mayo Clinic and Children's Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia.
Another school located in the Puerto de Santa Maria area is the English Centre. It is a private school with many extra cultural activities and provides an educational opportunity for students to mix with Spanish children. This school covers grades K-12 and should be noted that classes are provided in English as well as Spanish.
DRIVING IN SPAIN Spanish Traffic Regulations Traffic Regulations for Children in cars
An American license is required to obtain a Spanish license. You must take a written test covering the signs, speeds, and traffic regulations prior to the licensing. This information can be obtained in the Traffic Safety Section. This section includes both information and pictures on the following: the traffic signs, speed limits, BAC limits on base and in Spain, seat belt requirements, helmet requirements, traffic circles, school buses, bicycles, and motorcycles/MOPEDS. Included in this section is information for touring Europe, such as vehicle safety equipment requirements, speed limits, and blood alcohol content (BAC) limits. The testing for the license is conducted during the Base Intercultural relations (ICR) class when you arrive.
The Naval Station has both a kennel and R.A.W.L.S., which serves as an adoption compound for cats and dogs. Please note that animals are NOT allowed at the any of the temporary housing quarters such as the Navy Lodge or BOQ. If you are shipping an animal to Spain, please contact the Base Vets Office for the vaccines required for entry to Spain. This should be documented on your animal's health certificate. The health certificate should be attached to your animal's carrier and you should hand carry another copy to prevent "lost copy" problems. Long haired animals should be closely shorn prior to shipping in the summer and early fall months. This will help lessen the risk of heat exhaustion if the aircraft spends a lengthy amount of time on the runway.
Spanish veterinarians are wonderful and most speak very good English! They are available during the evening hours and are very inexpensive compared to the US vets. Their offices are usually housed with a pet store and are very easy to find in both Rota and Puerto.
Microchipping is required for on-base animals. Animals living off-base should be microchipped as well. This service can be performed at the Base Vet's Office. Please note this is an excellent way to deter dog theft as well as assisting in identifying a lost dog. Certain breeds at risk for dog theft include Boxers, Rotteweilers, Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, and Chows. For example, the cost of a non-registered Samoyed pup eight weeks old with no shots can cost $200 in US money. The above named dogs are good for breeding as well as dog fighting sports. Your animal should be contained in a locked fence or chained. Animals that run loose often becomes victims of theft or are hit by cars.
CHECKING INTO THE HOSPITAL SAFETY OFFICE
When you arrive at the hospital and check into the Human Resource /Personnel Department, you will receive a check-in form and the Safety Office is listed is one of your stops. You initial visit to the office is designed to tailor you safety orientation to your special job/location. For example, if you are assigned to the Operating Room (OR), you will receive training on Formaldehyde, Reproductive Hazards, Waste Anesthetic Gases, Fire Prevention in the OR, HAZCOM, Ergonomics, Bloodborne Pathogen, Safety and New Employee Orientation. If you work in Medical Records, you would receive training in Fire Prevention, Injury Prevention, Ergonomics, HAZCOM, Hospital Safety, and New Employee Orientation. This system ensures you have the basic level of safety knowledge to work in your assigned area upon arrival. Your safety means everything to this Command! If you have any questions about the training or any issue related to a safe working environment, please contact the Safety Office at the following telephone numbers:
CONUS: DSN 727-3321 or COM 011 34 956 82 3321
WELCOME TO BEAUTIFUL SPAIN. HAVE A SAFE AND WONDERFUL TOUR ..........