How to stay safe and healthy during your Easter holiday

Stay safe this Easter with our trusty holiday survival guide.

13 March 2014
by Charlene Naidoo

Holidays are generally a time of excess and a more lax attitude to health and safety, but a nasty incident can quickly put an end to the much-needed fun and relaxation. Ensure your Easter holiday isn't ruined by mishaps by following this vital advice.

Be sun safe!

As little as 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure can result in sunburn. Sometimes it isn't immediately apparent and by the time the skin starts to become painful and red, the damage has been done. The pain is worst between six and 48 hours after sun exposure. In severe sunburns, blistering of the skin may occur.

The fix:

  • Do not treat the sunburn with butter. Butter and other oils trap the heat in, causing further discomfort. In fact, the salt in butter actually aggravates the burn further.
  • Instead, a cool bath or shower and a cooling agent like aloe will work wonders.
  • In severe cases it’s best to go to the doctor, especially if there’s swelling and blistering on the face and neck, and if the burn results in swollen, tight hands and feet become numb and tingly cold.

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It can ruin your whole journey, but there are helpful ways to banish travel sickness. Motion sickness is caused by “confusion” between the messages your body is receiving. You are sitting still in a car, says your brain, but your body feels that you are moving. The confusion of these signals is what causes nausea, dizziness and even vomiting.

The fix: 

  • If you are prone to carsickness it helps to look outside the car and try to focus on a still object or distant point. Focusing your attention inside, whether you are looking at another person or reading a book or magazine, can make travel sickness worse.
  • Avoid rich, fatty foods and limit dairy – dry crackers are good for settling a queasy tummy.
  • Motion sickness drugs are available and different ones work for different people. Many are contra-indicated for children, so always check with your Clicks pharmacist before buying them.
  • Ginger may combat nausea. Brew some ginger tea before you leave and keep it in a flask. To make ginger tea, boil two slices of fresh ginger root per cup of water, strain and sweeten to taste.
  • Peppermint and chamomile tea have also been shown to help settle the stomach.

Insect bite

A mozzie attack or bee sting is sure to put a damper on holiday cheer.

The fix:

  • To keep bees away, wear light-coloured clothing and avoid bathing with scented soaps.
  • Don't leave food, drinks and garbage uncovered outside.
  • If there are bees around, flapping and swatting won’t help – stay calm and still.
  • To treat a bee sting: scrape the stinger away in a side-to-side motion with a credit card or fingernail, and then wash the area with soap and water.
  • Papain, an enzyme found in meat tenderiser, breaks down the protein in bee venom, so apply a little to the sting for about 30 minutes.
  • An antihistamine can give relief and help prevent the reaction from spreading. Speak to your Clicks pharmacist about the best one for you.

Food poisoning

Food poisoning is more prevalent in warmer weather as bacteria multiply faster in hot and humid weather, but it is still important to follow safe food hygiene practices throughout the year.

The fix:

  • Keep cold food in the fridge or cooler until the last minute if you’re braaiing or picnicking. 
  • When packing the cooler chest for an outing, wrap raw meat securely to avoid juices from coming into contact with ready-to-eat food. Keep the cooler in the coolest part of the car, and then in the shade if possible.
  • Always defrost meat fully before you braai, and make sure it is piping hot all the way through. Don’t add the marinade you’ve used on raw meet to cooked meat.
  • Wash hands regularly and urge kids to do the same thing, especially before and after touching food.

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Dodgy water and questionable food can lead to the runs, bloating or constipation – not fun at all! It’s believed that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an over-reactive response to the digestive system, and is most prevalent in women.

The fix:

  • That’s not to say that you have to skip on delicious holiday-type foods, but try to include more fibre in your meals (apples, beans, wholegrains) to aid with digestion and bowel function.
  • Take a walk after heavy meals to ensure that your food digests. Herbal remedies like chamomile tea can also calm spasms and ease bloating.

Safety first

An essential for the holidays, your first aid kit should contain:

  • Motion sickness medication
  • Topical steroid cream for sunburn
  • Insect repellant
  • Eye drops for salt water, sand and other irritations
  • Eardrops for earache from swimming
  • Prescription medications
  • Antihistamine tablets for allergic reactions
  • Antihistamine cream for stings and bites
  • Paracetomol or aspirin
  • Calamine lotion for sunburn or rashes
  • Sterile gauze
  • Sterile burn dressing
  • Adhesive bandages

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