24 February 2006

Five safe holiday tips

Do you have a holiday coming up? Lucky you. But holidays are sometimes not just fun, fun, fun. They also require careful planning in order to avoid hazards.

Do you have a holiday coming up? Lucky you. But holidays are sometimes not just fun, fun, fun. They also require careful planning. Look out for some of these possible hazards. And come back in one piece.

Be organised
The holiday season comes round every year, and many make their holiday plans long in advance. But if you're still deciding on where to spend your time off, the following tips may help.

Take action: Decide beforehand how much you can and want to spend; choose a destination that pleases most members of the family; be realistic about travelling times; have the car serviced before you go; try and avoid overnight flights with babies or toddlers; check the internet for pictures of your destination and avoid the surprise element; choose easy-going pleasant holiday companions; read the small print on all special offers; see your doctor and get any medication you may need; take as little luggage as possible; and take comfortable shoes, lots of underwear and clothes that suit the climate.

Protect yourself from the sun
The bronzed, sun-baked tan that used to be the essential summer fashion accessory is fading in favour of a spray-on tan or a natural look. But skin care in summer goes beyond sunblock.

Take action: Stay indoors or in the shade between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; play tennis or golf early in the morning or late in the afternoon; wear sunblock with a sun-protection factor of at least 15 on all exposed areas of skin every day, rain or shine; combine the sunblock with long sleeves; and use plenty of moisturiser if you swim a lot.

Safeguard your children
Holidays always start off with a bang. Schools close and the kids are now at home. This means that accidents are more prone to happening. Watch out for the following:

Take action: To help prevent choking, keep round, hard sweets out of the reach of young children; be aware of seemingly innocent and unexpected forms of poison; keep alcoholic drinks and containers out of reach – holiday beverages laced with alcohol seem sweet and inviting to young children; avoid using artificial sprays to decorate – these sprays can cause lung irritation if inhaled.

Keep swimming safe
Sadly, many are victims of drowning each year. In most cases, drowning could have been prevented if simple safety precautions were taken.

Take action: Always supervise children near water, even buckets of water or fish ponds – as little as five centimetres of water could pose a risk for a small child; never leave a child under four alone in the bath, even for a second; ensure that everyone in the family knows how to swim; young children should always wear approved life vests when swimming (inflatable rings and water wings are not effective); fence off your pool and preferably use a pool net as well; when at the beach, only swim in designated areas and if a lifeguard is on duty; no-one, not even adults, should swim alone or when they are intoxicated.

Avoid jetlag
Planning to travel abroad? Don't let jet lag ground you. Even though jet lag is an inevitable side effect of airplane travel, especially when crossing multiple time zones, steps can be taken to minimise its unpleasant effects.

Take action: Make sure you get between seven and eight hours sleep per night in the week preceding your trip; drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated during the trip – and avoid alcohol and caffeine; consider using short-acting benzodiazipines to induce sleep during the plane trip – these won't make you feel groggy; when you arrive, adjust your daily routine to the new time schedule as soon as possible; spend time outdoors upon arrival – bright light can “advance” your body clock; and plan your vacation schedule, so you don't try to do too many things for the first two days of your trip.

(Health24, January 2006)



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