Thursday, February 5, 2004
What Would You Do: Surviving An Alligator Attack
They are Florida's most famous four-legged creatures. But what do you do if you're one of the 20 people attacked every year by an alligator. Here's 7 Charles Perez with the right way to respond.
(WSVN) -- Anybody who lives in South Florida knows how dangerous an alligator can be.
We're talking 15 feet, 80 teeth, man-eating reptiles.
"He had my right hand at least ... in his mouth," says Don Goodman who lost his arm to an alligator. "As soon as I saw this I pounded on his nose with my left hand and he pulled me under water."
Don lost his arm to an alligator.
He was attacked while cleaning out a pond...
"They act by instinct and reflex," says alligator trainer Bob Freer. "If I come down and touch him here, he should swing his tail this way. I'm going to go ahead and give that a try right now. Like that."
Bob has made a living handling these lizards.
As a gator trainer, he knows what it means to get too close for comfort.
"Actually, I can come right down and kiss him on the mouth and he'll be just fine," he says.
"You're not going to do that, are you?" says Charles.
Talk about a labor of love. I even got to sit on Bob's "tame" alligator.
Now, obviously sitting on a tame one is one thing, but if you encounter one in the wild ... you need to know what to do.
"If you open the door and walk out and it doesn't go anywhere, then call fish and game, you have a problem," says Bob.
If you decide to take matters into your hands, watch what happens when Bob approaches these gators. Most of the time, they're just as scared of us as we are of them.
But what doesn't scare these guys - anything small including children.
"Anything small, even a small child you wouldn't trust around it," says Bob.
"Your dog, your cat, your small child. They're prey?" asks Charles.
People can also become prey in the water.
Remember don who lost an arm. He was in a pond.
"If you're swimming, all they see is your head," says Bob. "They're not a smart animal. Your head about the size of a duck: food." Plus keep in mind gators are better swimmers than us and they can hold their breath longer.
"When they bite down on something, they're designed to hold on it .. drag it under and drown it."
Your best bet is to try to get out of the water and run zig-zag.
"You're saying don't run straight," says Charles.
"Correct," says Bob.
"You're saying .. by zig-zagging, you're talking just like this?" Charles draws a zig-zag in the sand.
"Yep, just like that. The head's so heavy, legs so short the minute he tries to turn he'll fall immediately to the ground on his belly."
But if you can't stand up and you can't get out...
"Simply go underneath the water," Bob says. "Sometimes they'll go underwater and when the see the full size of you, they suddenly realize you are not the duck or food they thought and they'll just swim the other way."
As for poking his eyes out.
The answer is no. They have deep sockets.
You can also forget pounding on his head.
Instead, try going for the ears... Or, even better, go for the throat.
Bob says, "If you look to the back part of the throat, there's a flap back there. That prevents water from going down his throat, when he has his mouth open. If you can reach in there and open that flap up then water rushes in and you can basically drown him."
And hopefully, you can swim ashore to safety..
Next Thursday, what do you do if you witness a crime?
How do you remember and register key information.
Charles has some pointers.
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