Stay Safe in Sweden
In general, Sweden is a safe country to visit. Keep in mind that your own nation is likely to be less safe than Sweden, so follow any cautions you might get in your own country and you will be OK. Drunken brawls on weekend evenings are a significant risk factor. Swedes, in general, avoid making direct eye contact, particularly in hazardous circumstances. Directly looking at someone who is acting violently may irritate them. Do not dispute with security guards or bouncers; they have the legal right to use force if necessary.
Although there is a considerable police presence in the city centers, particularly on weekends, the countryside is very poorly policed, particularly Norrland, where the closest patrol vehicle may be a hundred kilometers distant.
Knife carrying in public is illegal in Sweden, regardless of size or form, unless it is required for employment or other activities. It’s legal to bring a knife along with your camping gear.
Pickpockets often operate in tourist locations such as airports, train stations, urban rail, retail malls, and festivals. Most Swedes keep their wallets in their pockets or handbags and feel quite comfortable doing so. Nonetheless, nearly all shops and restaurants take most major credit cards, so there is no need to carry large amounts of cash. If you have a bike, secure it or risk losing it. While there is organized crime in certain Swedish neighborhoods, it poses no threat to legal tourists.
Keep an eye out for vehicles near road intersections. In Sweden, there is a legislation known as “The Zebra law,” which states that vehicles must stop at zebra crossings. Many Swedes think that all drivers behave in this manner. By keeping an eye out for vehicles, you may save not only your own life, but also the life of a friend, since recorded injuries have risen as a result of the legislation. If you must drive, obey the law; police vehicles may not be visible everywhere, but you never know when they may arrive.
The Swedish police have erected so-called alcogates for vehicles at the Stockholm port of Frihamnen. It is an automated breathalyzer procedure that takes around 112 seconds to perform. If a motorist exceeds the legal limit, the gates stay locked, and police in the area will conduct more extensive examinations.
In Case of Emergency
In the event of a fire, medical or criminal emergency, call 112 immediately. It does not need an area code, regardless of the kind of phone used. The number is usable on any mobile phone, with or without a SIM card, even if it is locked (without SIM, you will be asked to press “5” before the call will be answered).
The Swedish police force is overburdened throughout the nation. Officers are seldom on patrol and may be too busy to investigate small offenses. To report a theft or call the police in general, dial 114 14 for a national non-emergency phone number that will connect you to an operator at a police station (usually nearby, but not always).
The Swedish wilderness is home to brown bears (brunbjörn), wolves (varg), lynxes (lo), and wolverines (järv), but they are seldom seen. There are no wild polar bears in Sweden, contrary to common assumption elsewhere. Bears are more prone to attack if they are wounded, provoked by a dog, hibernating, or defending their young. Since 1900, bears have murdered just a few humans in Sweden. Wild wolves may attack pets and cattle, but generally avoid humans.
Stay Healthy in Sweden
Certified pharmacies are identified by a green cross and the word Apotek. For minor medical issues, a trip to the drugstore is all that is required. Every major city has at least one drugstore that is open at night. Non-prescription items such as bandages and antiseptics are widely available in supermarkets. Only pharmacists sell strong analgesics.
Swedish health care is often of extremely high quality, although it may be difficult for foreigners to get. The majority of medical facilities are operated by the government, and their accessibility varies. As a result, obtaining an appointment within a week at certain medical centers may be challenging. In the event of a medical emergency, most provinces (and, of course, large cities) have a regional hospital with an emergency department open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, if you are unfortunate, you may have to wait a long time before receiving medical care.
Sweden’s tap water is of high quality and has almost no bacteria. Water in mountain resorts may contain rust, while water on offshore islands may be brackish, although both are safe to drink. In Sweden, there is no compelling need to purchase bottled water. There is also bottled water that does not satisfy the standards for usage as tap water in Sweden.
In Sweden, there are few severe health hazards. Your main worry in the winter will be cold weather, especially if you are hiking or skiing in the northern regions. Northern Sweden is sparsely inhabited, therefore it is essential that you register your trip intentions with a friend or the authorities so that they can come searching for you if you do not show up. Dress warmly in layers and carry a good pair of sunglasses to avoid snow blindness, which is particularly common in the spring. Avalanches may be a concern in snowy slopes.
Mosquitoes (myggor) are a major annoyance, especially during rainy summers in the north. While Swedish mosquitos can not transmit malaria or other diseases, they do produce a unique (and very annoying) whining sound, and their bites are quite itchy. They are, as usual, most active at dawn and sunset — which, in the Land of the Midnight Sun, may mean much of the night in summer. Mosquito repellents are widely available at supermarkets.
Other summer annoyances include gadflies (bromsar), whose painful but non-venomous bites may leave a mark that lasts for days, and wasps (getingar), whose stings can be fatal in rare instances for allergic people. Use insect repellent, make sure your tent has enough mosquito netting, and carry appropriate medicine if you are sensitive to wasp stings.
Ticks (fästingar) emerge in the summer, particularly in tall grass. Through a bite, they may spread Lyme disease (borreliosis) and the more severe TBE (tick-borne encephalitis). The eastern regions of Sweden and the Stockholm archipelago are particularly vulnerable to TBE. Wear bright clothing and examine your body (as well as your pets) after outdoor activities. Tick tweezers (fästingplockare) are available at pharmacies.
In Sweden, there is just one poisonous snake: the European adder (huggorm), which has an unique zig-zag pattern on its back. The snake is not abundant, although it may be found across Sweden, with the exception of the northern highlands. Its bite is seldom fatal (especially in young children and those who are allergic to it), but those who have been bitten should seek medical attention. In Sweden, all reptiles, including adders, are legally protected and must not be destroyed.
In Sweden, there are no really hazardous aquatic creatures, however while bathing in the water, keep an eye out for Greater weevers (Fjärsing), a tiny fish hidden in sand with many poisonous spines on its back. The venom is approximately as deadly as that of the European adder, and it is more likely to inflict discomfort (which may be severe) than harm. In the water, there are also poisonous jellyfish that are brilliant blue or red. The poison is not fatal, but it is painful.
Stinging nettles thrive in damp, nitrogen-rich environments (particularly where people pee outside), although being stung is usually not hazardous, merely causing local pain for a few hours.