It won’t be long before we all start to dig out our suitcases, hunt for our swimming gear or realise that our passports are out of date (sheer panic overtakes with the very thought) as we prepare for our summer coach holidays. With this in mind, we thought we’d check out the guidelines provided by GPs and share their information with you so that you all enjoy a happy and healthy holiday…
It’s easy to do and I’m sure that we’ve all done it, when holidaying abroad we immediately forget that we shouldn’t
drink the water from the taps (like we do at home)! Diseases can be caught from drinking contaminated water or swimming in it. Unless you KNOW for certain that the water is safe ALWAYS use either boiled water, bottled water, canned drinks or water treated with a sterilising agent. This applies to ice cubes and water for cleaning teeth.
Nothing beats a nice cool soak in the pool especially when the heat gets unbearable but there are a few things to consider before you take that dip…
• Always swim in water that is properly chlorinated
• Avoid swimming in freshwater lakes and streams if you are holidaying in Africa, South America or parts of the Caribbean, otherwise you could risk catching a parasitic disease caused Schistosomiasis (also known as Bilharza)
• NEVER go barefoot and always wear protective footwear when out, even on the beach
Contaminated food is perhaps THE commonest cause of illness when travelling abroad but you can prevent this by following our tips below:
• Only eat well cooked fresh food
• Avoid leftovers and reheated foods
• Ensure meat is properly cooked
• Eat cooked vegetables and AVOID salads
• Only eat fruit that you can peel
• NEVER drink unpasteurised milk
• Avoid ice-cream and shellfish
• Avoid buying food from street vendor’s stalls
It goes without saying, to stop the spread of illnesses and bacteria ALWAYS wash your hands.
This is one of the most common illnesses caught whilst abroad and unfortunately there is no vaccine against it! This is caused by eating/drinking food and water that has been contaminated by bacteria, viruses or parasites.
High Risk Areas include North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, South America, Mexico and the Middle East.
Medium Risk Areas include Northern Mediterranean, Canary Islands and the Caribbean
Low Risk Areas include North America, Western Europe and Australia
Mosquitoes, certain types of flies, ticks and bugs can cause diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever amongst others so when travelling, it’s always best to:
• Cover up the skin as much as possible and wear light coloured clothes, long sleeves, trousers or long skirts
• Use insect repellents on exposed skin. The best ones to use are those that contain at least 50% DEET.
• If there is no air-con in your room, make sure the shutters are closed in the evenings and spray your room with knockdown insecticide
• If holidaying in malaria risk zones, ALWAYS sleep under a mosquito net
• Avoid camping near areas of stagnant water
It’s hard to resist stroking a cute cat/dog when they approach you but did you know that Rabies is still present in many parts of the world? With this is mind, there are three rules to follow when on holiday:
• Do not touch any animal, even cats and dogs
• If you are licked by an animal on broken skin or have been bitten by an animal in a country that is known for rabies, wash the wound thoroughly with soap & water for 5 minutes
• Seek medical advice IMMEDIATELY, even if you have been recently immunised
These can happen almost anywhere but for some reason we all seem to take less care of ourselves when we are on
holiday. To avoid injury whilst travelling, it might be wise to follow these precautionary guidelines;
• Avoid alcohol and food before swimming
• Never dive into water where the depth is uncertain
• Only swim in water that you know is safe
• Always check for sharks, jellyfish and strong currents – if you’re unsure don’t go swimming
• Avoid alcohol when driving
• If hiring a car, make sure it is a large one and if possible, check the tyres, brakes and seat belts are in good condition
• Always use reliable taxi firms
• Know where the emergency facilities are
As soon as you’ve booked your holiday and before you depart, make sure that you have adequate insurance so that you are covered for any eventuality. Make sure that:
• When taking out insurance, make sure that this includes medical repatriation, otherwise this could work out to be extremely expensive should you need medical assistance when abroad.
• Let your insurers know of any pre-existing medical conditions
• Always read the small print of your policy and if you are unsure of anything, contact your insurance provider
• If holidaying in Europe, take an EHIC card via www.ehiccard.org or by calling 090 7707 8370. This takes time to arrive, so make sure you arrange this as soon as possible before you depart on your holiday
• Ash clouds could cause a problem so make sure you check your insurance policy provides adequate cover and if you are affected, call the company will whom you booked your holiday with for further advice
If your holiday requires you to fly then it’s best to follow these guidelines:
• Be comfortable in your seat
• Exercise your legs, feet and toes every half hour whilst sitting down
• Take short walks whenever possible
• Drink plenty of water
• Be sensible about how much alcohol you consume on a flight as too much can cause dehydration
Sun and Heat
It’s a known fact that some of us do not fully understand the power of the sun and unfortunately our holidays are spoilt by the effects that sunburn and heat-stroke can cause. Here are a few precautionary guidelines to follow for happy sun-bathing:
• Increase your exposure to the sun gradually
• Use sun blocks of an appropriate ‘SPF’ strength but a minimum of SPF 15
• Children under the age of 3 should use a minimum SPF 25
• Reapply sun block often and especially after swimming and washing
• Wear protective clothing such as hats, t-shirts and sunglasses
• Avoid going out between 11am to 3pm when the sun’s rays are at its strongest
• Take special care of children and those people that are fair skinned or have red hair
• Drink extra fluids in a hot climate
• Be aware that alcohol can make you dehydrated
These are just a few guidelines to help you enjoy a very happy and healthy trip. If you’re still not entirely sure of what to look out for when travelling, make an appointment with your GP and they will be happy to offer further advice and guidance.
Hopefully these guidelines will help you to avoid the many ‘nasties’ that are out there but has there been a holiday where you or your family have been affected? If so, share your experiences with us as it may help others to avoid it next time!