Though Kerala is much safer than other parts of India, it doesn’t mean that it is the world’s safest place. Kerala has its share of criminals. Pick pockets are quite common in heavily crowded areas like buses, festival grounds and city shopping areas. Don’t trust your hotel cleaning staff with your costly belongings. Also women are advised not to walk in revealing costumes. Nightlife is only available in major metro cities which too emerging. Take care not to roam in late quarters of night, especially alone.
Strikes, protest processions and hartal (voluntary closure of activities as protest) are common in Kerala, considering its high political awareness and socialist leanings. Tourists may get suddenly caught in hartals or road blockades due to protests which may make you stranded in airports or railway stations. All political parties announce the date and details of protests much in advance in leading dailies. So regularly follow leading English dailies while in Kerala, and keep buffer days. On hartal days, normally all forms of transport keep off from roads from morning till evening. So be prepared to walk to your hotel or wait in airport or railway station till evening. Alternatively, Kerala police operate free buses under police convoy to transport tourists and urgent passengers to important areas in major towns and cities.
To be on safe side, foreigners are requested to register and submit their itinerary at the Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). Likewise it’s absolutely important to carry passport copies all the time, as after the Mumbai attacks, police security has been stepped up.
While in trains or buses, do not interact with lone strangers, or at least not more than normal, and it’s absolutely important not to eat or drink anything which they offer. However, interactions with families are considered to be safer.
While boating insist on being offered life jackets. Many boat operators ignore Government regulation of statutory issuance of life jackets while boating, which could prove risky, as most of the Kerala’s water bodies are deep.
Though Kerala does not have many touts or so-called Guides, a few people from outside state do encounter this problem at some tourist centres especially Hill stations like Munnar, etc. Do avoid them completely as many nowadays are small time thieves and crooks from other states who look for prey. Hence avoid them completely and say a firm NO.
Nudity in any form is frowned upon for both genders and the rule applies more especially to women. It’s okay for men to be bare-chested in public, though it’s not appreciated much except at the beach or rural areas. In beaches or rivers, women can wear swim-suits or covering towels around the body, but bikinis are a no-no. Though there is no gender segregation in beaches, rivers ghats or swimming pools, gender segregation is maintained in temple ponds and certain public ghats.
Though Kerala ranks highest in alcohol consumption, consuming alcohol in public is frowned upon. Even wine or beer consumption is also considered as liquor in Kerala, which too is frowned upon in public. However, privately it can be consumed. Women consuming alcohol is socially frowned upon, hence women entering into bars, etc., results in too much glaring. However, the recently opened public pubs / lounges and posh bars in premium hotels are a natural choice for women to consume liquor openly. But this choice is limited to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
Use bottled water, as tap water is not so safe even though it’s purified, and stay in decent hotels even if you have to shell out some extra money. However recently homestays have been safe.
Emergency and assistance
Kerala Police Kerala Police Contact
Flying Squad Emergency- 100 (toll free from all devices)
Crime Stopper- ☎ 1090
Women Squad Assist- ☎ 1091
Highway Police – ☎ +91 98 4610 0100
Railway Police Assist-☎ +91 98 4620 0100
SMS Alert and Assist – ☎+91 94 9790 0000
The Kerala Police force is one of the most efficient police units in India and the least corrupt. Most of the police officials are well versed in English and Malayalam and 95% of police stations are computerised. Most of the cities do have a very strong police network and it’s not difficult to find a police station.
Normal Law and Order police force wear Khaki color uniforms. Traffic Police wear a uniform of a white shirt with khaki pants.
There is a specialized police section for Tourist protection called the Tourist Police. This force is located at prominent tourist places, beaches, monuments, trekking areas and other tourist attractions. They wear a light blue shirt with khaki pants and have an aid post marked as Tourist Police. In event of requiring any assistance whilst at any tourist places they may be found to be extremely helpful. Tourist Police recently opened India’s first fully dedicated Exclusive International Tourist Police Station (ITPS) to provide a wide range of assistance to foreign tourists. The International Tourist Police Station is in Mattancherry-Fort Kochi, a primary tourist enclave in Kochi City. The Police station also houses a small police museum and a recreation centre. The ITPS will be the primary tourist assistance point for any tourist complaints and may be used as an information and assistance point for any Immigration and Passport-Visa matter.
Kerala’s highways are safeguarded by Highway police. In event of any distress on any highway call the police using their toll free number- ☎+91 98 4610 0100
Fire and public rescue
Kerala’s Fire and Rescue Services maintains a network of Distress rescue services throughout the state. They can be reached at ☎ 101
Kerala Rapid Healthcare Access Systems
Kerala has rolled out extensive E-Governance in Healthcare facility, by launching Dr.SMS. Patients can log to their portal to identify the right ambulatory services.
For SMS based support, one can input Health<space> Pincode <space> facility in their local mobile connection to receive details of key hospital of the intended facility in the district. To identify contact details of the hospital, SMS input Health<space>HospitalName. All such inputs must be send to Toll-Free SMS Center No- 537252
Rapid Access-Toll Free from all devices
102 – DHS-Kerala
1298 or 108 – Kerala Emergency Medical Services
1910 – State Emergency Blood Bank Network
1911 – Call Doctor- State Medical Call Center
1097 – AIDS Control Society
Kerala is well reputed for its high medical assistance. The state has highest ambulatory healthcare access across the country, with numerous of hospitals, first aid centres, primary health centres and tertiary and specialized hospitals, offering Allopathic (Western Medicine), Ayurvedic and Homeopathic treatments.
For any urgent medical attention or ambulance services, call ☎ 102. Directorate of Health Services of Kerala (DHS Kerala) along with Kerala Police Ambulance Services operates extensive emergency ambulance services across the state. Recently DHS-Kerala have launched Dr.SMS, a M-Governance initiative helping people to identify hospital or doctor or health care services via SMS.
Kerala is the first state in India to have Rapid Medical Action Force with a strong network of medical ambulances and medical hospitals across the state. Most of ambulances are white in colour with Red Cross mark. Members of Rapid Medical Action Force (RMAF) do have a yellow and green livery ambulance with a Red Cross sign. Kerala Healthcare Department has tied up services of ☎ 1298 and ☎ 108 emergency providers, to provide hi-tech ambulance services across the state. 108 Emergency, is an advanced life-saving ambulance even equipped to carry out minor operations operating mainly in urban areas, while 1298 provides comprehensive services across all parts of Kerala.
In event of an accident, use only hospitals marked “‘Casualty'” outside, as they have a suitable license to admit a road accident case. Its common to see such hospitals. In event of any accident on a roadway, call ☎ 100 for police or ☎ 108 as many times individuals do not come to rescue especially in large cities, fearing involvement in a police case. The police do maintain fast and effective accident identification and recovery service, thus in event of any accident, even a distress call from your mobile, can help them to identify your position and assist in expediting medical attention.
Taluk Hospitals, first aid centres and select primary health care centres across the state are all equipped for emergency admissions and treatment.
Tap water is generally safe for drinking, though tourists are advised to buy bottled water for drinking. As a tropical country, Kerala is hot and humid so drink a lot of water.
Sanitation standards as well as personal hygiene among Malayalees are very high. However most of the toilets do not have toilet paper option, hence it is advisable to carry a roll always. It is better to have bath atleast once a day, while in Kerala. This is because it is a social norm in addition to being a relief from the extreme humidity which makes a traveller sweat a lot. A bath atleast once (twice is always better)is a true remedy for this problem.
Malaria is completely eradicated and not an issue, but dengue fever, cholera and viral fever is endemic to the region. Moonsoon time is considered as one of the major epidemic season, due to wet atmosphere, providing breeding ground for various water-borne virus. The state’s mosquito control measures are not effective and mosquitoes still pose a major challenge. You require good mosquito controlling repellents which need to be applied regularly or use of mosquito coil or mosquito repellent mats etc at room as well as use of mosquito nets over bed. Various Kerala’s spice extracts and oils prove an effective option to control mosquitoes.
While touring during summer days, its advised to always wear a cap or have an umbrella to avoid the harshness of the tropical sun. Also wear only cotton while touring during summer. It’s also advised to drink Sharbath- a local popular road-side stall drink made of lemon juice mixed with sugar syrup with slight salt and mixed with soda. This helps to control dehydration a lot.