First aid kit. Healthy travelling – general rules
Do you love traveling? So do we! Therefore prepare yourself for the journey. Basics of safe travel: prevention, judgment and safe behaviour, and a well-equipped first aid kit.
What you need to do before you leave – a „TO DO” list „TO DO”
The route of your trip: check local conditions of medical care, check and write down local emergency numbers, mark hospitals and ambulatories on the map and check distances between them.
Date, place and character of your journey: verify information on weather and climate, adjust the first-aid kit to the means of traveling and goal of your journey – whether it will be mountain climbing, sea cruise, trekking through the jungle or the desert rally.
Make appointment with a doctor: plan your visit at least 6 weeks before departure; you should prepare information on recently terminated and chronic diseases, list of medication you take continuously, allergies to drugs or other substances and documentation of your previous immunizations.
Vaccinations: be sure to check which are mandatory and which are recommended; consult that with a doctor.
Knowledge and prevention: we protect ourselves with vaccinations, drugs, physical protection and repellents against many infectious diseases as dengue, malaria, yellow fever. Against infections from food the rule: cook, brew, peel or forget it can help in exotic countries with unstable sanitation situation. With animal attacks, bites or burns in water – the principle is simple as well – if you do not know what kind of animal it is – do not come closer, nor swim around or touch it.
Prepare a first aid kit: adjust it to the place where you are going to stay, its climate, local threats such as infectious diseases, dangerous animals and to your activities.
Each kit should be equipped with the following elements:
- Emergency blanket – small size, great actions – used in rescue and any emergency situations in order to improve thermal comfort of injured, prevent from cooling down.
- Gloves – several pairs, protect yourself in each case where contact with blood and other fluids might occur.
- Elastic bandage – multipurpose and might be applied in more situation than ordinary dressing, can replace a tourniquet, might be used to immobilize. We recommend cohesive bandages, a bit more expensive, yet self-sticky, comfortable in sports injuries.
- Laundry soap / spray disinfectant – help to debride wounds and clean scratches, help maintain hygiene of tools and skin.
- Triangular scarves – for all sorts of applications
- Scissors – should be strong with blunt end, for quickly reaching through layers to the wound and all other possible applications.
- Tweezers – facilitates handling of any small foreign bodies that we cannot or do not want to catch by hand, and to remove ticks or other parasites from the body.
- Gauze dressing – a few pieces and different sizes for dressings.
First aid kit in tropics:
- Hand disinfectant – lotion, wipes, gel, preferably in handy packets. To clean hands, and to disinfect all suspected items, even food. You can get them in travellers shops specially designed for the exotic sites, with a high concentration of alcohol and disinfectants.
- Tablets for purifying water / carbon filter – in the event of a staying without access to filtered, bottled water for extended period of time you might be forced to use less reliable sources. Such water must be filtered and purified.
- An antidiarrheal agents – necessary in most exotic destinations. Local flora can have a revolutionary impact on our bowels. Ask your doctor to prescribe an effective medication.
- Activated carbon – in addition to the above medication you should also take a big package of activated carbon. It has not only the absorbent effect but also protects the gastrointestinal mucosa. Take after nausea, do not give to infants.
- Minerals – dehydration is a serious problem in the tropics, if you do not have this type of ready to use minerals you can usually get it at their local pharmacies – Oral Rehydration Salt, or prepare it yourself by combining 6 flat teaspoons of sugar, 1 flat teaspoon salt and 1 litre of safe water – bottled or boiled.
- Antibiotic with broad spectrum – consult with your doctor the right medicine.
- Antimalarial drugs – the most popular is Malarone, a prescription drug, 1 tablet to be taken per day, you need to start taking it one day before your journey starts and continue for a few days after it ended. It has the least side effects of all, but still they may appear. The downside is price. You can find advertisement of second rotation market on the Internet but we strongly advise against buying that way – drugs may be counterfeit, expired and you risk your life and health. It cannot be used for more than 30 days. If your stay in malarial areas is to be longer than a month it is essential to consult with a travel medicine physician about other antimalarial prophylaxis options.
- Eyes – drops for general use and an antibiotic ointment.
- Antihistamine – it is necessary yo bring an antihistamine, the market offers prescription and non-prescription drugs. Most of them have broad spectrum and the main therapies include: allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, urticarial, atopic dermatitis. Recent active compounds (LPH 3rd generation) are: bilastine, desloratadine, levocetirizine. Trade names are obviously different. There are as well other antihistamines: loratadine, cetirizine etc. Supplementary calcium and something for swelling. Additionally hydrocortisone ointment or spray (different trade names). Consult with your doctor local hazards in places where you’re going – you should think about adrenaline for intramuscular injection. It is issued only on prescription.
- Hydrogels – for burns and wounds – they include sodium alginate, therefore absorb blood, exudate while cooling to form a gel, and reduce pain. They help the healing process, have an anti-inflammatory and disinfect effect by autolytic debriding of the wound of necrotic tissue.
First aid kit at sea
- Prepare a good supply of dressings – bandages, gauze, sterile dressings, Codofix and hydrogels for burns and wounds. Along with that, disinfectants and sanitizers: alcohol pads, sanitizing gels, octenisept and external seams – e.g. Steri-strip.
- Sun protection cream for face and body with a high UVA and UVB factor – protects against serious burns. The wind on the water reduces the feeling of sunburn. Also, Vaseline or stick for lips – they are more likely exposed to get dry and chapped. Bepanthol – for treating and reducing sunburns.
- Medications – similarly to exotic destination – effective antidiarrheal agents such as loperamide and diphenoxylate or nifuroxazide, additionally active carbon. Certainly a good supply of ORS – oral rehydration salts, oral rehydration sachets – there are different types and packages. Important to note down and keep handy a recipe for preparing ORS solution of your own. The nausea affects everyone at sea at some point and dehydration can be very dangerous.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Ibuprofen, Naproxen etc. painkillers – like paracetamol. Additionaly you can stock some diastolic medicine as well.
- Good glasses with polarization and strong filter – protects against conjunctivitis. Eye drops.
- Good antihistamine with a broad-spectrum. Hydrocortisone – in the ointment and spray (different trade names). Something to reduce swelling (e.g. Altacet). Supplementary calcium. You should consider adrenaline for intramuscular injection (note – not injected into gluteal muscles). It is issued only on prescription, consult a physician.
- If you dive, you know how important oxygen is.
- Think also about medicine against cough such as e.g. Thiocodin.
- For injuries and to immobilize limbs Sam Splint – they can be rolled up and take up little space, valuable in emergency situations.
First aid kit in the mountains
- For injuries and to immobilize limbs Sam – Splint rolled up into a roll take up little space and are irreplaceable in emergency situations. Along with that ice sprays or other type of cooler for bruises, dislocations, sprains – reduces swelling and soreness.
- Steri – Strip skin closures
- Powerful head torch and spare batteries.
- Ointment for sore skin. Adhesive dressings of different sizes.
- Sun protection cream for face and body with a high UVA and UVB factor – protects against serious burns. Good glasses with polarization and strong filter – protects against conjunctivitis. High in the mountains the sun and wind operate with increased force. Vaseline or stick for lips – they are more likely exposed to get dry and chapped. Bepanthol – for treating and reducing sunburns.
- Medications: anti-inflammatory and painkillers, antidiarrheal agent, ORS. For mountain sickness: acetazolamide (trade name e.g. Diamox). In case of pulmonary edema, if descend is impossible: nifedipine (trade names: e.g. Procardia, Adalat, Nifedical). In case of cerebral edema dexamethasone. Consider oxygene.
If you are travelling with children
Apart from the well-stocked first aid kit for yourself, and do remember that your safety and health is a prerequisite for proper care after your children, pack also appropriate medication for your children. Below you can find a list of things that are useful when traveling with kids:
- Photocopy of child’s health and immunization records,
- Disposable needles and syringes (necessary especially when traveling to exotic countries)
- Hydrogen peroxide in the form of gel, disinfection pads
- Cream or ointment for abrasion, they might have also anti-inflammatory effect
- adhesive dressings and strips (preferably with colourful pictures as they are known to reduce painJ)
- Calcium and antihistamine
- Cream with a high UVA/UVB protection factor
- Drug mitigating the effects of burns
- Analgesics and antipyretics (good to have medications with different composition: one based on ibuprofen, second on paracetamol), anti-diarrhea medication tolerated by the child and activated carbon, mineralsContact us if you have questions.