Travelling is a great way to answer a child’s curiosity and show it new, unfamiliar places. If you are reading this, you must be among those parents who decided to take their children to exotic destinations or extreme conditions – e.g. high mountains.
Please remember – while giving your child exciting adventures and profiting from all the advantages of travelling together, you are responsible for them and you have to be prepared against threats and conditions.
We would like to present here some advice, facts and comments about exotic diseases, bites and other situations that might happen during your travels.
When planning a trip with children, consider whether there are no life-threatening diseases against which you will not be able to protect the child at the planned destination. Remember that some vaccines are not approved to use below a certain age. Example: yellow fever occurs in the whole of West Africa or typhoid (India, West Africa). Therefore, before finally choosing your destination, learn about the possible health risks that may affect children and protect against it as much as possible. One of the most common problems when travelling, as well as the symptoms of many food-borne illness is diarrhoea. It can have a very dramatic course with children, even fatal as a result of extreme dehydration. Memorize symptoms showing a child has lost a lot of fluids and electrolytes, so you might effectively and immediately respond to it.
- Increased thirst
- Anxiety and impaired consciousness such as drowsiness, apathy
- Dry mouth and rough rugged tongue
- Low elasticity of the skin
- Sunken eyes
- No urine
In case of such severe symptoms of dehydration, medical intervention with intravenous fluid transfusion is required. On the way to a doctor or hospital:
1 / give fluids – best serve them in small portions, a teaspoon at short time rates
2 / give medication that increases level of lost electrolytes, at a dose suitable for weight and age (for more information see respective flyer)
3 / be in constant contact with a child, control its condition and vital function (extremely dehydrated child may even fall into a coma)
4 / consider administration of a drug that will alleviate symptoms of diarrhoea (remember that drugs administered to adults in similar situations may not be suitable for children)
5 / if transportation to the doctor is prolonged, remember that restricting food does not solve the problem of diarrhoea, and may contribute to a further weakening. Adjust diet to gastrointestinal tract disorder, but make sure a child is being fed.
It is one of the most serious threats to children traveling to countries in the hot climate zone. Parasites that cause this disease are transmitted via mosquito bites. Firstly red blood cells are being attacked, then important internal organs break down, and it may even lead to death. In children, the brain is often the most affected area, then, apart from loss of consciousness and coma, it can also result in permanent damage to the nervous system.
The Main symptom is a paroxysmal fever. Preceded with chills the temperature increase keep for several hours, accompanied by asthenia and headache and then fever drops to normal parameters. Severe sweating follows that drop. Additional symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting, jaundice may also occur.
If travelling to areas where malaria occurs, you need to supply yourself with antimalarial drugs suitable for children. Also, remember to protect your child against mosquito bites – use appropriate clothing, check if your accommodation place is equipped with mosquito nets – doors and windows should be obstructed against insects and use insect repellents.
Accidents in water
To travel the way that only good memories are left behind, do remember about rules of safe behaviour on the water. Teach them to your child as soon as possible so it is used to them and will follow them later in life to avoid dangerous situations.
1/ To begin with, teach your child how to swim. If you cannot give it the basic principles of swimming alone sign it in as soon as possible to classes with an instructor. Although good swimming skills do not eliminate the risk of drowning, they help you out of many dangerous situations on the water.
2/ Teach your child that it may enter the water, only with your consent, and that it can only play within your sight
3/ Before you let your child enter the water, check water temperature and whether a place is safe for swimming, check for sudden faults in the bottom, depth changes or currents. Even if you are staying for a few days in the same place, check the bottom every day before you let your child go into the water. With appropriate currents, the bottom may be shaped differently in just one night. Water can also carry obstacles on which a child can trip over and choke.
4/ Do not allow your child to jump into the water if unattended and unmarked. Teach them so called lifeguard jump or compact jump, during which head is not immersed even when jumping deep waters.
5/ Do not let the child proceed far away from the shore on a mattress or other inflatable toy nor to float too long on the surface of the water in full sunlight.
6/ Always take an inflatable or buoyant toy to the beach, for example a board or a ball that you can give or throw to a child in an episode of drowning. Remember that if such an event takes place on deep water, even a child – when it is fighting for its life – is being able to threaten your safety. Therefore, during the rescue operation you should hand it something out, so a child will be able to lean against on it and then you can pull it to shore.
7/ Take care that between meals and swimming or playing in water a child has an adequate time to rest. Entrance to the water immediately after eating may cause an accident.