Durban – It is officially the second week of the school holidays and most parents are opting to sneak in a few days getaway with their children. For those ready to pack up and hit the road, there are a few travel health tips by Travel Health Consultant, Dr Rolf Verster, on how to stay safe if you’re planning on going away this winter.
Get vaccinated – Flu vaccines are by far the most important tool we have for preventing flu. It is never too late to vaccinate and important to get it before you travel. Flu vaccines are available from doctors’ offices, pharmacies and local clinics. Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect against the three most serious strains of influenza.
Prepare a travel health medicine kit – Include items in your kit that might be helpful if you get sick, such as tissues, nasal decongestants, pain and fever medicine, soap, and an alcohol-based sanitizer.
Research your destination – Familiarise yourself with the climate and local weather at your destination. Pack the appropriate type of warm clothing. Know where to go if you become sick or injured during your travel. Take malaria prophylaxis if going to a malaria area.
Visit your family doctor before you travel – Consult with your doctor to discuss medicines to take with you or advice on what to do should you fall ill. This is especially relevant if you have any chronic disease or pre-existing condition. Travel only when you feel well.
Avoid close contact with sick people – Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Step carefully – Roads, rocks and pavements can become icy and slippery which are hazards for visitors unfamiliar with such conditions. Wear slip-resistant footwear with rubber treads when walking on snow and ice-covered walkways. Children and senior citizens are more prone to serious injuries.
Stay indoors if weather conditions are extreme – Avoid unnecessary exposure to extreme climatic conditions. Thake the wind chill factor into account and dress appropriately if you need to go outside. Protect your eyes and skin – use lip balm for chapped lips or even as prevention.
Stay dry – Wet clothing can chill the body, making you more susceptible to illness. If it’s raining, sleeting, or snowing, cover up with waterproof outerwear that prevents snow and ice from dampening your clothing.
Stay well hydrated – Even though you may not feel thirsty in the cold weather, your body still perspires. You should, therefore, drink just as much water as you would in warmer weather. Make sure that you drink enough water and monitor the colour of your urine – dark urine indicates dehydration.