A few days ago, I wrote a tip about respecting wildlife and heeding warning signs after seeing a horror video of a tourist getting too close to a sea lion in South Africa.
I was reminded of a tip I wrote a long time ago: Whenever I travel, and even at home in Los Angeles, I almost always turn over my shoes and boots and shake them out before putting them on. I do this to remove any spiders or bugs that might have crawled in during the night or while I was away.
Fortunately, I’ve only found spiders in my shoes twice while on the road and once at home (just a few weeks ago). But those three incidents make it worth the quick shake every time.
As you can see from the 2011 photo above, it’s not that I’m so scared of spiders. Yes, that’s me holding a tarantula that my guide in Belize found in the wild while we were filming a TV show for the Travel Channel. For some stupid reason, I agreed to this photo op but over the years, I’ve learned not to take these kind of risks.
But even though I’m not afraid of spiders, I still don’t want to be bitten by one — especially a poisonous spider, which is why I always take a few seconds to shake out my shoes and my kids’ shoes before putting them on.
Other close calls with spiders came in remote parts of Australia (photo above) and Costa Rica, where I had huge spiders in my room but fortunately, I spotted them.
I know the chances of anything happening are slim but it gives me a peace of mind, especially after reading this devastating news story: “Luiz Miguel Furtado Barbosa, from Anhembi, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, was getting dressed to go camping with his family when he suddenly ‘screamed in pain’. A Brazilian yellow scorpion – or Tityus serrulatus – was later discovered in his shoe. His mother Angelita Proenca Furtado told local media: ‘As soon as he put it on, he screamed in pain. As we didn’t find what had stung him, we kept looking.” The boy died after being stung by one of the most poisonous scorpions in the world.
While this is an extreme and rare case, spider bites can range from mild, with easily treatable symptoms to more severe, causing difficulty breathing, a severe headache and painful muscle cramps that require immediate medical care. Here’s more information about spider bites, how to prevent getting bitten and what to do if you are.
Have you ever found any insects or animals in your shoes?
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