Ohio : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Ohio - state review
Dayton, Ohio, is known as the Gem City, but it’s the aviation history that will really get your attention.
Known as the Birthplace of Flight, many attractions here are designed around this milestone, which doesn’t always get the global recognition it deserves.
Dayton is tucked into Central Ohio, about an hour north of Cincinnati.
It’s a city of fewer than 140,000 people, and that’s as proud of its local park system as it is the technology business sector.
It’s also pretty cool when you can find an island in a landlocked city.
The Miami River runs through Dayton and provides ongoing activities and entertainment throughout the year.
Basketball might be bringing you to Dayton, as no other city has hosted as many NCAA tournaments at its home arena.
Marketing pushes for THE ROAD STARTS HERE, and the NCAA FIRST FOUR kicks off March Madness every year.
You’ll still get simple Midwestern values here, with modern amenities and close proximity to larger cities.
The traditional friendliness of the community has twice been shattered by mass shootings, one in 2019 and another in 2022.
Dayton is one of many cities dealing with increased crime rates, and juveniles are being arrested in record numbers for violent or gun crimes.
Warnings & Dangers in Dayton
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Dayton has a medium overall risk with ongoing violent crime issues and record-breaking homicide rates. While many crimes are among people who know each other, it's important for a tourist to realize this isn't an idyllic Midwestern city in every way.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Dayton's public transportation service is the RTA. Tapp Pay is the app riders can use to check schedules, track buses, and pay for fares. Taxis and rideshares are readily available, and rental cars are another option. There was a high-profile shooting on an RTA bus in 2022, but crime on the bus isn't commonplace. There's low risk with any option, but having your own car is better to explore on your own schedule.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
50 pickpockets and purse snatchings were reported in 2020, which is a large amount for a city of this size. We'll call it a medium risk so that you can be more attentive to what you bring out in public and how secure you keep your wallet.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Ohio gets flooding and tornadoes all too frequently, with a major tornado outbreak happening as recently as May of 2019. You need to know severe weather safety here. Winter visitors should also review the snow emergency plan. There's a medium risk because dangerous weather potential runs all year long.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Robbery has been on a steady decrease in Dayton since 2014, when there were nearly 800 robberies, while 2020 saw 300. It's still a medium risk for tourists, however, since that rate is nearly three times the national average.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Aside from during the NCAA tournament, there's a low risk here. Nearby Cincinnati would be a larger target for terrorists. You should still report any suspicious activity to the local police.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scam lately has been someone spoofing the police department's phone number and threatening arrest if people didn't pay money. That was targeted at locals, so there's a low risk for a tourist.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women have as much of a risk as anyone else, so that's a medium risk, but use extra caution when enjoying the nightlife, and don't go to a private place with someone you just met. Avoid walking around at night alone and if you are going to a park or on the river, just let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water utility was fully compliant, as detailed in the 2021 Water Quality Report. If there is flooding during your visit, check the city website for any water quality risks. Floods can cause contamination or flow issues that require boil orders.
Safest Places to Visit in Dayton
The official Dayton visitor website is daytonsvb.com.
There is also a Visit Dayton app produced by the tourism bureau.
This will help you find places that are among the best in the region.
Take the Dayton Aviation Trail by printing the brochure on the tourism website.
There are 17 sites to see and to “win” the trail challenge, you just need to visit eight.
Some of the most popular are located in the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
- Wright Brothers National Museum: Kitty Hawk gets a lot of accolades for the first flight, but all the hard work to make that happen was done in the Wright brothers’ hometown of Dayton.
- Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center: Housed in the same place the Wright brothers worked, this interactive exhibit will explain how the brothers got their dream literally off the ground.
- Hawthorne Hill: The Wright family mansion is located here.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the largest aviation museum in the country, with a storied history and 19 acres of space to explore.
For another interactive experience, you’ll love the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, with science, anthropology, and paleontology taking center stage.
The Discovery Zoo is also located here, with a chance to get up close to all kinds of animals.
The Dayton International Peace Museum provides ongoing education for crisis management and conflict resolution using non-violent strategies.
Exhibits change throughout the year to reflect ongoing challenges.
A Peace Quilt display opens in late 2022.
Car enthusiasts will love the British Transportation Museum and/or America’s Packard Museum.
You can also head to Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway to try your luck on horse races or slot machines (known as video lottery terminals).
The Oregon District is a great place to visit any time of day, but it has some of the best nightlife available in Dayton.
You’ll love a stroll down 5th Street, where you can check out the schedule for several entertainment venues.
Five Rivers Metroparks is an expansive park system in the region, and Island Metro Park is one of the most popular during the warmer months.
Every park offers fishing, but the island park also has kayaking and rowing.
There’s also a pedestrian bridge over the Great Miami River.
Places to Avoid in Dayton
Staying east and south of the river will keep you in the lowest crime neighborhoods.
Oakwood is one of the safest communities in the city and also one of the most affluent.
The area around the university is also one of the safer places, as there are local police and campus police on patrol.
If you are visiting and find out about a natural disaster, such as a tornado hit, you should reconsider your travel plans.
The 2019 tornado outbreak saw 15 tornadoes in Dayton, including one that went right through downtown.
In the aftermath, gas leaks were common, debris was scattered, water was too unsafe to drink, and power was out.
You might not know about the severe weather events unless you track the city’s weather before visiting.
You can get a free weather app from a variety of places, like The Weather Channel or local television stations.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Dayton
- The Dayton Police Department offers an interactive crime map on its website. This tool allows you to look at different parts of the city and what crimes happened recently. If you are bringing a car, you might want to look at auto thefts in the past month. If you are attending a convention, you might want to see thefts around the convention center.
- Dayton team with Miami Valley Crime Stoppers. If you have any information about a crime, you can call (937)222-7867. DPD also states on its website that it regularly runs prostitution strings, so you can even use that hotline to report suspected prostitution happening.
- Dayton uses surveillance technology in many ways, including police-worn body cameras, a live-feed camera system downtown, and automatic license plate readers. That means you’ll likely be on camera at some point during your visit. You won’t even notice the license plate readers unless you are suspected of a crime.
- If you are getting a rental car, ask if the company can provide a theft-deterrent device. Also, ask what safety precautions have been taken to keep the catalytic converter from being stolen. When you get in the car, don’t leave your paperwork in the glove box. If the car is broken into, then the thief would have all your personal information.
- There’s city support for the LGBTQ community, and the mayor is even ready to marry same-sex couples if needed. You can reach out to Kerry Grey, who is the LGBTQ liaison for the mayor, and ask any questions about safe places to visit in the city.
- Dayton has a city podcast called the Birthplace of Next with various topics that impact the city. Some of the podcasts are safety-related, so they could make for good flight time listening. There is also an expansive YouTube channel. While most of the videos are city commission meetings, there are some police reform and community interviews.
- Anglers need a fishing license in Ohio, but a few of the Metro Parks in Dayton waive the fishing requirement. That’s a nice touch because I haven’t seen many cities that do that. Please check with the individual park to find the right place for you. If you are choosing another lake or river, you’ll need to get a license through the state’s department of natural resources.
- Ice fishing is allowed in Metro Parks too, but you’ll need to know the thickness of the ice before you can safely walk on it. Snowmobiles and vehicles are not allowed on the ice. Metro Parks gives this advice for judging ice depth, “Thin and crispy is way too risky, but thick and blue is tried and true.”
- Sign up for CodeRED alerts, so you always know about any emergencies or severe weather in the city and county. The tornado sirens aren’t always going to be heard, especially if you are inside.
- The Dayton OHGO app is the best way to keep an eye on traffic around the city. You’ll see real-time reports from officials and Waze updates from other drivers. Live cameras are available too.
So... How Safe Is Dayton Really?
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is now involved in helping with crime prevention strategies.
After Dayton was ranked among the most dangerous cities in America, community leaders realized it will take a larger effort from the business owners and residents to help lower the numbers.
“It is a very safe city, but do we have some issues that we need to address?
We definitely do,” Dayton Police Major Brian Johns said.
“I think the gun violence that we see, a lot of times we see people who are involved in an argument and instead of trying to deal with it the correct way, they decide to grab a weapon and shoot people or actually shoot innocent people.”
Police are frustrated by rising crime rates and record homicide rates, but even more so since juveniles are contributing substantially to the crime.
Now, there isn’t an inherent risk for a tourist visiting Dayton, but there’s always a risk of being an innocent bystander or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The best advice is to stay on main roads and highways while visiting the main tourist attractions and popular districts.
Don’t go wandering into different neighborhoods, and stay on the east side of the river if you can.
How Does Dayton Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver to enter the country through Customs at the airport. This process can take months, so start looking at the details at least three months ahead of time.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar (USD) here, and it's wise to avoid carrying cash. Every way you can spend money here either has a mobile app for payment or accepts credit cards.
- Weather - Winters can get bitterly cold, so pack insulated outerwear and snow boots. Spring and fall can get chilly, so bring extra sweaters and jeans. Summers will be warm and, at times, hot, but you might want a light jacket or hoodie in case of a chilly night or morning. Bring sunscreen and bug spray too.
- Airports - Dayton International Airport is 20-30 minute north of the city. If you want to fly out of Cincinnati, you'll actually cross into Kentucky to get there, and that's about a 90-minute trip.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a smart idea with weather delays that can cause time and money losses. For those coming from outside the country, you'll have to pay out of pocket for any medical care if you don't have health insurance.
Dayton Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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