All travellers should have health insurance to cover accidents as well as other illness and check that repatriation in an emergency is also covered.
- Be aware of the possible risks and avoiding predictable injury should always be the first priority.
- Foot injuries on the beach, for example, are common in those not wearing shoes.
- Unfamiliar creatures e.g. jellyfish, fish, molluscs, caterpillars, spiders and snakes may be venomous. Further advice is available from the Australian Venom Research Unit at http://www.avru.org/index.html
- Dogs in many countries run wild and will respond aggressively when approached.
- Skin injuries can lead to tetanus and 10 yearly boosters of tetanus toxoid are advised when post-exposure tetanus hyper-immune immunoglobulin may not be available.
- Serious injuries that may need blood transfusion can be of concern where HIV screening of blood products is not universal.
- To reduce any risk of mugging travel in groups, avoid remote areas after dark, use a torch, keep on the move, carry an alarm or an anti-personnel spray (may be illegal in some countries), wear modest clothing - do not display wealth.
- When crossing the road remember the traffic may come from the opposite direction to the one in your home country.
- Drivers in some countries may not observe pedestrian crossings or traffic signals.
- Strictly observe speed limits, traffic lights and signs.
- Never drink and drive.
- Consider locking your doors at stopping points. e.g. at night in isolated areas.
- Be very careful on pot-holed and non-tarmac 'dust' roads which can become corrugated from continual exposure to the wind.
- Think twice about taking an overloaded up-country bus.
- Scooters and motor bicycles are frequently unstable on poorly maintained roads and those riding have very little protection in the event of an accident.
- Check hire vehicles very carefully for mechanical defects.
Swimming and Diving
- Alcohol and swimming do not mix.
- Do not swim immediately after a big meal - cramp may be more common.
- Low water temperature can induce hypothermia. This can be rapidly fatal - within minutes. Both the sea and inland deep water lakes may be very cold even during hot summer months.
- Sunburn is common and may be unexpected since the swimmer is kept cool by being in the water.
- Beware of fast moving tides and currents, especially the undertow from waves and in deep water - even strong swimmers may find it difficult to get back to the shore.
- Avoid swimming alone.
- Swim in approved places when there is a beach patrol or lifeguard service.
- Avoid using airbeds or inflatable dinghies in the sea. If there is an offshore wind they can easily been blown a long distance off shore. If this happens the scenario is often panic, jumping off, exhaustion and hypothermia. Invariably it is better to stay 'aboard', try to attract attention and await rescue.
- Train for SCUBA diving and gain medical fitness to dive certificate whilst 'at home'.
- It is recommended that divers do not fly (most commercial aircraft are decompressed) until at least 12 hrs after last dive, 24 hrs after multiple dives or after dives which require decompression stops during surface ascent. The reason for this is that the reduced cabin pressure may give rise to delayed decompression sickness (the bends).
Medical Advice on Diving Problems
The Royal Navy provides a 24 hour emergency advice service. This gives information on the location of your nearest medical diving problem treatment facility (recompression chamber) and the emergency management of diving related illness. Tel:- 07831 151 523 (cell phone) or 0831 151 523 (non cell-phone). This is Royal Navy Duty Diving Medical Officer. State clearly that there is a diving problem.
In case of difficulty, an alternative contact is the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar. Tel: 023 92 584255.
Winter Sports Injuries
- Do not be over ambitious - make sure you are fully trained for the degree of skill required.
- Avoid excessive fatigue - accidents often occur before lunch and on the way back to the resort in the evening.
- Keep up your carbohydrate and fluid intake.
- Become familiar with the terrain and the hazards involved, including avalanche potential.
- Watch out for other skiers and snowboarders. It is your responsibility to avoid skiers in front of you.
- Observe adverse weather warnings.
- Do not 'economize' on protective clothing, boots and safety equipment.
- Consider helmets for younger skiers and snowboarders.
- Learn to fall correctly and to release your ski stick before it damages your thumb (skier's thumb)!
Electrical Safety Abroad
Electricity supplies can vary worldwide so it may not always be safe to use an electrical appliance that you would normally use while at home in the UK. The normal voltage of electric appliances in the UK is 230v 50Hz but this can vary in other countries around the world.
The Electrical Safety Council have recently published an information guide on how to use electricity safely abroad: