Schools out and holidays are finally here which means it is time to pack up and head off on a much-anticipated vacation for the festive season.
From camping trips to beach holidays, overseas travel, road tripping and everything in-between, it is important to take along some medical essentials so that you and your family are prepared for any unforeseen injuries or illnesses.
Jackie Maimin, CEO of the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) says that having a well-stocked medical kit with you when travelling is essential.
Here is a list of 10 medical kit essentials:
- Travel sickness/Anti-nausea medication – This is important as there is nothing worse than starting your holidays with a bout of nausea and vomiting. This medication is available in tablet and syrup form.
- Antiseptic, dressings and plasters- For minor cuts and grazes take along a bottle of antiseptic spray or wipes. Any medical kit must always contain a selection of plasters, sterile gauze dressings, bandages, medical tape and of course surgical gloves. Antiseptic cream or ointment are also a valuable addition.
- Burn kits/dressings – make sure you have a burn gel dressing in your kit. These are sterile and very effective at soothing a minor burn or scald. If the burn is over a large area or is a deep burn seek urgent medical attention.
- Scissors, safety pins & tweezers- Scissors and safety pins are useful for cutting and securing bandages. Tweezers for removing splinters. (Remember to pack scissors, safety pins and tweezers in your main luggage as you will not be able to take them into the aircraft cabin if you are flying anywhere.)
- Sunscreen products - Choose one with a high sun protection factor - at least 20 SPF. Include a lip balm with sunscreen and an after-sun lotion to soothe sunburn just in case.
- Rehydration sachets and anti-diarrhoea tablets – dehydration can happen quickly and with debilitating effects – especially in young children and if you have vomiting or diarrhoea. Over the counter anti-diarrhoeal medicines can relieve symptoms of diarrhoea and upset stomachs very quickly. Children with diarrhoea should be managed using rehydration fluids.
- Paracetamol/pain medication – Available as tablets, chew tablets, effervescent tablets, capsules and syrup, paracetamol is the standard symptomatic treatment option for pain and fever. Individuals with liver problems, paracetamol allergies or on long term medication should check with their pharmacist whether paracetamol is safe for them or for a safe alternative.
- Insect repellent - Avoid insect bites by using insect repellents containing DET. For mosquito bites the insect repellent should be applied particularly during the evenings and at night when they are most likely to bite. DET containing insect repellents are an important measure to support the required malaria medication if travelling to malaria areas.
- Antihistamines - Over the counter antihistamines, which are available as tablets and syrups, are used to treat hay fever and can help reduce itchiness and inflammation caused by contact allergies and insect bites. There are new generation antihistamines which are non-sedating – ask your pharmacist for advice on these options.
- Prescription and chronic medication- If you take any regular prescription medication, such as high blood pressure tablets or inhalers for asthma, make sure that you take enough with you on holiday.
“It is also important to take along a copy of your prescription. You may require this at customs when travelling across boarders or for repeat medication should you run out while on holiday, or if your luggage containing your medicines is lost,” advises Maimin.
“Pharmacists are also always on hand to help. In nearly every South African town you visit you will find a local pharmacy with a pharmacist who is able to advise and assist you should you find yourself in need of medical advice, repeat prescriptions, and over the counter medications.”