While holidays are a time for travel and fun, it is also a time when holidaymakers ought to be more vigilant regarding their health and to prevent accidents.
Shalen Ramduth, general manager: inland and aeromedical operations at Netcare 911, says that individuals are known to be more vulnerable outside their familiar home environment. “Many people are more adventurous and open to experimentation while on holiday, often embarking on activities they would not usually undertake. Such activities could result in greater risk of physical injury or illness.”
Ramduth recommends that travellers prepare properly before leaving on holiday so that they are equipped to deal with most eventualities. One item that everyone should take along when travelling is a comprehensive first aid kit for unexpected emergencies.
“A good first aid kit can serve as an interim resource until more qualified help arrives and can often make a real difference in an emergency situation. The kit will also assist you in dealing with minor injuries that do not require the intervention of trained paramedics or doctors,” explains Ramduth.
Contents of a practical first aid kit for travelling, as recommended by Netcare 911
- 4 packs of sterile gauze
- Adhesive, hypoallergenic tape
- Adhesive bandages in several sizes
- 2 triangular elastic bandages
- Crepe roller bandages – 1 large and 1 small
- Sterile dressings – 2 large and 2 small
- Burnshield dressings of various sizes
- 2 eye pads with bandages
- Pack of sterile cotton wool swabs
- Assorted plasters
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibiotic cream
- 1 pack of paracetamol tablets and liquid paracetamol
- Rehydration sachets
- Additional supplies of prescription medication (if going away on holiday)
- Sharp scissors
- 6 safety pins
- Face cloth
- 2 pairs of gloves
- Space blanket
- Torch and spare batteries
- List of emergency contact numbers, e.g. ambulance, family doctor, paediatrician etc.
"Accidents can happen at any time, which is why we always advise travellers to learn first aid so that they know what to do in an emergency,” adds Ramduth. “Learning first aid would be a great New Year’s resolution for anyone to make.”
“The Netcare 911 Faculty of Emergency and Critical Care offers first aid courses from level one to three. These programmes cover medical, trauma and paediatric emergencies and are ideal for people dealing with children or the infirm, equipping individuals to provide basic supportive care until healthcare professionals can take over the patient’s management. "
"All South Africans should learn how to do basic CPR, as every minute that CPR is done until paramedics arrive may help save a life – it has been shown internationally that this improves survival rates. Netcare 911’s first aid and CPR courses are particularly valuable for parents, as nothing can be more upsetting than being unable to assist your child if he or she is in distress while you wait for medical assistance to arrive. At Netcare 911 we know that you will never forget the first time you saved a life, or the first time you didn't," asserts Ramduth.
According to Ramduth individuals are not only vulnerable to accidents but may also fall ill while on holiday. “Our natural immune system protects us against organisms in our regular environment and we are therefore relatively resistant to these organisms. Away from home and the environment to which our bodies have adapted, we are exposed to different situations and ’new’ organisms to which we have not previously been exposed and against which we may not have immunity.”
“Some airborne organisms are spread via air conditioning or in closed environments such as aircraft. The drying effect of air conditioning is bad for the health of the mucosal surfaces of the respiratory tract, making our bodies’ defences less effective. A change in routine, with late nights and inadequate sleep and rest, may also affect the immune system. The well-known jet lag can be just as incapacitating as the malaise of flu.”
Ramduth says that gastro-intestinal illnesses are certainly more prevalent amongst holidaymakers and tourists, who may eat exotic and richer foods that their digestive system is not used to. Travellers are also prone to stomach upsets caused by certain bacteria and other organisms, a condition known as traveller’s diarrhoea.
Overexposure to the sun during summer holidays could result in an array of heat-related ailments such as sunburn, heat stroke or heat exhaustion. “Drink enough water, eat regularly, get enough rest, wear sunglasses and a sun hat, use a high factor sun lotion when you do go out, and avoid the sun between 10h00 and 16h00. Also moderate your alcohol intake,” advises Ramduth.
“The bottom line is that it is especially annoying to fall ill or sustain an injury when you are on holiday, a time when you most want to be enjoying yourself,” he points out. “However, if you practice good hygiene and take care of yourself and your family you can do a great deal to avoid illness and injury.”
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Devereaux Morkel
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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