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Disney World: Could Clearer Signage Have Prevented this Family’s Tragedy?

By Sally Murdoch

Correct Signage is More Than Just a Good Idea: It Could Save a Life.

Warning sign alligatorsOn Wednesday, June 15, 2016, a family’s vacation turned to nightmare when a two-year-old was dragged by an alligator into a Disney World lake at dusk and killed. This highly-publicized tragedy underscores the need for signage that clearly warns about dangers to people who may have zero familiarity with what dangers may lurk. In this instance, Disney’s signage simply read “No Swimming,” which ignored the dangers of potential predators. The family, being from Nebraska, may never have imagined live alligators would be lurking nearby. The incident is a clear reminder for all companies and organizations to review their signage to ensure it clearly warns of all dangers.

Disney had a “No Swimming” sign posted, but the boy was not swimming at the time of the tragedy. He was near the water’s edge when the alligator grabbed him, and his body was found 10-15 yards away. Had Disney posted a sign more like the one shown on the above, visitors would have known the danger was not limited to the water itself. Signs made with glow-in-the-dark tape, such as DuraLabel BoldGlo or reflective tapes would help enhance visibility of the warning in low-light and nighttime conditions.

The beach where the reptile grabbed the child is part of the Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, across the lake from Disney World. The 200-acre lake has depths up to 14 feet and feeds canals winding through the entire Disney World property.

Disney to “Thoroughly Review” its Alligator Warning Signage

According to WESH 2 News, only one alligator warning sign was spotted on the property at a small pond. The station reported the sign read, "Do not feed or go near the alligators," along with a picture of an alligator and a snake.

Fox News reported that a Disney official confirmed the company plans to “thoroughly review” its alligator warning signage around the resort. Signage could have been much more specific to the dangers surrounding the family. Although fatal alligator attacks are rare (23 lives have been claimed by wild alligators in Florida since 1973, according to wildlife officials), the dangers are still present, and signage needs to communicate that.

A Fox News analyst said, “When you employ or invite an individual onto your property for the purpose of transacting business, you have the highest duty of care for that person under the law. You must warn them about all known or likely dangers and protect them from all known or knowable dangers.” This is where clear visual communication comes in.

Signage That Can Save Lives

DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products help companies, in tourism or any industry, create and print clear, custom visual communication. The company also offers custom label and sign service and custom messages for changes in environment, as wayfinding signs to direct away from dangerous areas as well as hundreds of preprinted signs that display important messages. Unsure about whether you have enough signs for compliance? Our Compliance Assessment Services can give peace of mind for you, your employees, and your valuable customers.