Norway

Stay safe & healthy

Stay safe & healthy


Stay safe

Norway has a very low rate of violent crime. The most likely crimes for tourists to experience is car break-ins and bicycle theft. Pickpockets do also tend to be an increasing problem in urban areas in the summer season, but it's still nothing like in larger cities in Europe. It is always a good idea to look after your belongings, this includes never leaving valuable objects visual in your car and locking your bike safely.

Single women should have no problems, although ordinary street sense is advised after dark.

Norway is one of the countries in the world with least corruption. Police and other authorities cannot be bribed, travellers are strongly advised against attempting in any form of bribery.

Norway has a unified police force ("politi"). The police force is the government authority in areas like crime, national security, major accidents, missing persons, traffic control, passports and immigration control. Most cities have municipal parking attendants, too, but the attendants do not have any authority beyond fining and removing vehicles.

Norway has a large number of electric vehicles, particularly in cities. These cars are very silent and pedestrians should use their eyes, not ears, when crossing roads and streets.

Outdoor safety

The most unusual dangers to visitors are found in nature. Every year, quite a few tourists get hurt, even killed, in the mountains or on the seas, usually after given, unheeded warnings. For example, do not approach a glacier front, big waves on the coast, or a big waterfall unless you know what you're doing, and do not walk on glaciers without proper training and equipment.

Norway has few dangerous wild animals. Car crashes with the mighty moose or the smaller red deer account for the bulk of wild animal-related deaths and injuries. Also note that in some rural districts, sheep, goats, cows or reindeer can be seen walking or sleeping on the road.

Specific rules and precautions apply to Svalbard, where you should never travel outside Longyearbyen without someone in your party carrying a weapon. The polar bears on Svalbard are a real and extremely dangerous threat for the unprepared, and there are cases involving death and/or injury almost every year. There are more polar bears here than humans. Svalbard is a fragile, dry arctic tundra with large parts almost untouched by humans. The current recommendation is that nonlocal visitors participate on organized tour arrangements only. Breaking the law, disturbing wildlife or being reckless can land you a fine and/or deportation from the archipelago. That said, if you come well prepared with common sense, the visit will be one of the most memorable you've ever had. The nature, scenery and history of Svalbard is simply breathtaking.

As for other wild animals on mainland Norway, there are not much more than a few extremely rare encounters with brown bear and wolf in the wilderness. Contrary to popular belief abroad, there are no polar bears in mainland Norway, let alone polar bears walking city streets. The Scandinavian brown bear is peaceful and will generally run away from humans. In any case it is extremely unlikely that tourists will even see a glimpse of one of the around 50 brown bears remaining in Norway. Norwegian wolves are not dangerous to humans. In general, there is no reason worry about dangerous encounters with wild beasts in Norway.

When hiking or skiing, be prepared for a sudden shift in the weather, as these can happen very quickly in Norway. If unsure about conditions, ask locals or go on a guided tour. You are expected to manage on your own in the Norwegian wilderness, so you won't find fences or warning signs even at the most dangerous places. Keep in mind that avalanches are common. Unless you know exactly what you're doing, stay in marked slopes when skiing. If you think you know what you're doing, think twice. 12 people were killed in avalanches just in the first three months of 2011 in Norway.

At sea

Norway's immense coastline is an adventure for visitors, but also a treacherous area. Huge waves that build up power across the Atlantic crush on slippery rocks and slabs along the outer coast. Every year tourists are in serious danger and occasionally even killed when they challenge the big waves along the shores. Many tourists also leave the sheltered waters and venture onto the open sea in small boats, every year tourists are rescued at sea, some even perish.

Glaciers

Glaciers are one of the most dangerous places for visitors to the Norwegian outdoor. Never underestimate the power of the glacier. Observe warning signs. Never approach the front of the glacier. A glacier is not a stable piece of ice, it is constantly moving and huge chunks regularly fall off.

Do not enter a glacier without proper equipment and a skilled local guide. Sunrays get reflected from the white snow, so it necessary to use sunscreen to protect your skin. Bring warm clothes for tours on the glacier.

On road

If you plan to cross the mountains by car (for instance by driving from Oslo to Bergen) in the winter season, it is imperative that you are prepared for the journey. The conditions are harsh. Always keep a full tank of fuel, and keep warm clothes, food and drink in the car. Make sure your tires are good enough and suited for winter conditions (studded or non-studded winter tires, "all-year" tires are not enough), and that you have the sufficient skills for driving in snowy and cold conditions. Roads are often closed on short notice due to weather conditions. For advice on conditions and closed roads, call 175 in Norway or check the online road reports [2](in Norwegian only) from the Norwegian State road authorities. Remember that not all parts of the roads have cellular phone coverage.

Emergency numbers

  • Police: 112
  • Fire: 110
  • Emergency Medical Services (ambulance): 113

If you are unsure which number to call, 112 is the central for all rescue services and will put you in contact with the correct department.

For non-emergencies, the police is to be called on 02800. For casualty treatment (non-emergencies) call 116117.

The hearing impaired using a text telephone can reach the emergency services by dialing 1412.

Roadside assistance is provided by Falck (tel. 02222) and Viking (tel. 06000). AAA members may call NAF on 08505. In case of traffic accident you are supposed to call the police only if individuals are injured or if the crash causes a traffic jam. The police will not get involved if there are damages on the vehicles only.


Stay healthy

  • The water quality in Norway is mostly adequate and tap water is always drinkable (except on boats, trains etc.).
  • The hygiene in public kitchens is very good, and food poisoning rarely happens to tourists.
  • Norway can get relatively warm in the summer, but be prepared to bring warm clothes (sweater, windbreaking/waterproof jacket), as they might come in handy. It's hard to predict the weather, and in summer, you may experience severe weather changes during your stay.
  • Tourists hiking in the high mountains (above the forest) should bring sports wear for temperatures down to freezing (zero degree C).
  • Norway has a high density of pharmacies. Nose sprays and standard pain killers (paracetamol, aspirin) can also be purchased in grocery stores and gas stations.
  • The sun is generally not as strong as in southern Europe. Keep in mind that in cool conditions (low temperatures or wind) you don't feel that the sun burns your skin. The air is often very clear and clean in the North and UV-levels can be high despite the low sun. Also keep in mind: the sun is stronger in the high mountains, radiation is multiplied on or near snow fields as well as water surfaces. Even when it's cloudy the light can be strong on snow fields. Do not underestimate the power of the Nordic sun! Bring sunglasses when you go to the high mountains, when you go skiing in spring and when you go to the beach.
  • In southern Norway there are ticks (flått) that appear in summertime. They can transmit Lyme's disease (borreliosis) and more serious TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) through a bite. The risk areas for TBE are mainly along the coast from Oslo to Trondheim. Although incidents are relatively rare and not all ticks carry diseases, it's advisable to wear long trousers rather than shorts if you plan to walk through dense or tall grass areas (the usual habitat for ticks). You can buy special tick tweezers from the pharmacy that can be used to remove a tick safely if you happen to get bitten. You should remove the tick from your skin as quickly as possible and preferably with the tick tweezers to reduce the risks of getting an infection. If the tick bite starts to form red rings on the skin around it or if you experience other symptoms relating to the bite, you should go visit a doctor as soon as possible. Since ticks are black, they are more easily found if you wear bright clothes.
  • There's only one type of venomous snake in Norway: the European adder (hoggorm), which has a distinct zig-zag pattern on its back. The snake is not very common, but lives all over Norway up to the arctic circle (except for the highest mountains and areas with little sunshine). Although its bite hardly ever is life-threatening (except to small children and allergic people), be careful in the summertime especially when walking in the forests or on open fields. If you are bitten by a snake, seek medical assistance. The probability of being bitten is however very small, as the adder is very shy of humans.

Contact For minor injuries and illness, go to the local "Legevakt" (emergency room/physician seeing patients without appointment)  116 117. In cities this is typically a municipal service centrally located, be prepared to wait for several hours. In rural districts you typically have to contact the "district physician" on duty. For inquiries about toxins (from mushrooms, plants, medicin or other chemicals) call the national Toxin Information Office at  +47 22 59 13 00

 

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