As we start preparing for the summer holidays, we put all our planning efforts into the destination, the outfits, the food, the companions, and the parties. These are all components that make a great summer holiday.
But what about safety?
A first aid kit is probably the last item on your list of things to think about, but it is something that is essential to consider when planning your holiday. Injuries that occur by the seaside or in a strange town might be difficult to treat, since you might not know the area well enough to find quick medical assistance — or the nearest doctor might be a very long drive away.
So make sure that you include a first aid kit in your holiday preparation checklist. And make sure that you know how to use it — have a look at the following tips for treating minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and other non-severe open wounds:
- Always wear sterile latex gloves, even when treating family members. Your hands may carry germs that could cause infection when coming into contact with an open wound.
- If there is bleeding, apply pressure with gauze untill the bleeding stops. Remove the gauze carefully, so that the bleeding doesn’t start again. Cut the gauze to the appropriate size using small scissors, so that you don’t waste any.
- Use cotton wool or ear buds along with water to clean around the wound before treating it.
- Remove any pieces of remaining debris (such as thorns or splinters) with tweazers.
- Apply antiseptic, such as Dettol Spray, to the affected area to help prevent infection.
- Apply a plaster or bandage to the wound (if required, depending on the severity and size of the wound). Use bandage pins or safety pins (like the ones you would use for nappies) to secure the bandage. Keep in mind that some small scratches might not even need a plaster.
- Keep the wound clean and dry for a few days, even after a scab has formed. The body will still be trying to heal itself beneath the scab, and scratching or washing the scab off will cause the wound to open up again, lengthening the time that the wound will take to heal.
- You can use pain medication such as Panado or ibuprofen to treat pain. If the pain persists or becomes intolerable, go to a doctor. Also make sure to read the pamphlet that comes with the medication, as this will give you the correct directions for use.
Here are a few more tips for items to include in your first aid kit:
- Rehydration sachets are very important for when you are dehydrated due to vomitting or severe sunburn, as they replace lost electrolytes.
- Immodium stops diarrhoea, but should not be overused, since it can cause constipation.
- Keep a lotion such as Peaceful Sleep on hand to prevent mosquito bites, especially when travelling out of the country.
- Tea tree oil is a useful and inexpensive ointment for treating minor burn wounds, as well as minor infections, insect bites, and bluebottle stings.
- Apply sunscreen of at least SPF30 to avoid sunburn. If you are swimming, apply sunscreen regularly, even if the bottle claims it’s waterproof. Your skin can only absorb a certain amount of sunscreen and the rest washes off quickly.
- Keep medication such as Allergex on hand for minor allergic reactions or hayfever.
Knowing the basics of first aid for treating minor wounds is always smart, especially when you have children or when you are travelling to a strange place. But always err on the side of caution. If a wound is deeper than 10mm, the bleeding doesn’t stop with direct pressure, or the wound is the result of a serious accident, rather go to a doctor. And remember that internal injuries can be just as dangerous as visible ones.
Remember: With a handful of carefully selected first aid items in your first aid kit, you will be able to relax and enjoy your holiday, knowing that you are prepared to take care of your loved ones in an emergency.