Don’t forget the first aid kit

Photo: B. BOISSONNET / BSIP/BSIP/Corbis
Photo: B. BOISSONNET / BSIP/BSIP/Corbis

While it is important to have all the basic first aid necessities such as scissors, tweezers, thermometer, cotton wool, gauze pads, plasters, various types of bandages such as crepe and support, adhesive tape, disinfectant, bulb syringe, small torch, antacids, laxatives, insect repellent, sunscreen and after-sun care, there are a number of other must-haves in your travel first-aid kit.

Pharmacist, Wimpie Pretorius, said a basic first aid kit could be bought at a chemist, but one would have to add some things not normally included in the kit.

“This includes scheduled medication, prescribed medication and other items which may expire and become outdated,” he said.

He advised people to talk to their doctor or pharmacist when supplementing their first-aid kit, as some medication should be avoided under certain circumstances.

“It is very important to keep your destination in mind when packing your first-aid kit, as well as the ages of your children. Babies will not be able to take tablets, and a syrup will be needed for diarrhoea or fever, for instance.

“Replace all outdated items and replace what has been used. The single most frequent injury experienced on holiday is burns, which can easily occur around a braai or simply by making coffee or tea. A burns kit is a must. A possible frustration on the journey could be car, sea or plane sickness, so before reaching for medicine, first try eating a couple of ginger biscuits,”

Pretorius further said one should be prepared for symptoms like coughing, fever and sore throat. When treating infection-causing bacteria in the lungs, nose throat and ears a natural antibiotic such as Linctagon as a first line of defence, and as a natural remedy, it is safe for the whole family. It should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, those suffering from liver or kidney illnesses or people with raised haemorrhage inclination, however.

Pretorius further said saline nose sprays and drops were ideal for loosening mucus in the nose and ears, while paracetamol was suitable for all ages as a painkiller. Ibuprofen can be used as an anti-inflammatory for babies six months and older. Never give aspirin to children and avoid products with codeine at all costs.

Make sure you have an oral rehydration solution to combat dehydration, a concern when suffering from a fever or diarrhoea. Children and babies are particularly susceptible to dehydration.

A topical antibiotic such as Bactroban is excellent for cuts and scrapes, while an antihistamine is a necessity for treating allergies. Also add an ointment to treat cold sores from too much sun or wind.

Other items that can be added or taken note of:

• Tea tree oil for minor cuts and grazes;

• Insect repellent: lavender oil or pyrethrum tincture;

• Steel drops to stop bleeding;

• A list of emergency numbers and family members’ numbers and a list of allergies;

• A pain-relieving antiseptic spray;

• Travel sickness: ginger oil or peppermint oil;

• Aspirin, as first aid if a heart attack is suspected;

• Aloe Vera gel for irritated skin;

• Anti-malaria tablets or syrup if visiting a malaria area, and remember to get vaccinations

• If travelling abroad, medical insurance is very important;

• If any serious symptoms persists for longer than 12 hours, get medical assistance; and

• A working knowledge of first aid is invaluable, so take a first aid manual along.

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