Holidays are special! We save for them, plan them, and keep our fingers crossed that we will all be fit and healthy and everything will be perfect.
However, accidents and illnesses can happen anywhere and can be more challenging when away from your home environment. A few basic precautions and advanced packing will make you more confident to help, should things go awry.
When travelling abroad, always ensure you know how to contact the emergency services, should you need to do so. In Europe, 112 will get you through to the emergency services; further abroad, 112 may still work as it will eventually be the worldwide emergency number. Alternatively, check in your guidebook or on Google.
Research in advance about specific dangers in the areas you are visiting, and learn how stings, bites, illnesses or reactions should be treated if affected.
If flying with little ones, small sachets of Calpol or Neurofen can be extremely helpful if the air pressure hurts their ears. Encouraging them to chew or sip water whilst taking off and landing can help to relieve the pressure. Pack something to keep them occupied during the journey and a special toy or blanket to encourage them to sleep. Snacks are also helpful, in case they won’t eat the food on the plane.
In hot climates, dress in suitable clothing to allow your body to breathe in humid conditions. Wounds often take longer to heal and are more likely to become infected in high humidity – ensure that any wounds are cleaned thoroughly, and apply a sterile breathable dressing.
Keeping everyone well hydrated is vitally important in hot climates, and little ones in particular need regular encouragement to drink. Water and milk will taste different in other countries, and adding some syrup or additional flavouring that they enjoy may help encourage them to drink.
Treat the sun with respect: cover up with hats sun glasses and sun cream; drink plenty, and keep out of the midday sun. If you are near water, remember that this will increase the potency of the sun, and regularly apply additional sunscreen accordingly. If someone shows signs of heat exhaustion - flushed, sweaty, stomach cramps, headaches - encourage them to sit in the shade and drink to replace their fluids. If they do not recover quickly, get medical advice.
Shower the affected area for 10 minutes under tepid water, then apply neat aloe vera. Seek medical advice if a child has become sunburnt or if the skin has blistered.
Bites and stings
If someone is bitten, or an open wound is licked by an animal; it is imperative that you seek medical attention as soon as possible and receive prompt anti-rabies treatment.
Beware of sea urchins and other sharp dangers in the sea, and encourage everyone to wear beach shoes when swimming and paddling. If a sea urchin spike does become embedded, soak the affected area in hot water and carefully remove the spike with tweezers in the direction it went in. Squeeze the wound to remove any extra bits. For any you are unable to remove, seek medical advice and monitor the wounds for signs of infection.
For common jelly fish stings; vinegar is the best antidote.
Always have water and snacks to hand, so children are well-fed and hydrated for your days out. A miserable child can quickly spoil things for everyone.
Take toilet roll, tissues and hand sanitizer with you, plus a compact, sensible First Aid kit. Add additional items relevant to your trip, and try and plan for all eventualities. Attend a First Aid course, and ask the organisers to include elements relevant to the particular needs of your holiday and family.