As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Whatever reason your international travel is, it is best to avoid exposure to any health and safety hazards by reducing or eliminating the risk factors than it is to deal with it after it has happened.
Here are some health and safety travel reminders.
Be Aware of Your Physical Safety.
- Follow local laws & warnings alerts
- Be aware of local weather conditions and forecasts.
- Wear protective equipment during adventure activities; example when going Canyoneering in Cebu, it is advisable to wear a helmet and a life vest.
- Limit alcohol intake specially before engaging in physically-demanding activities.
- Be cautious when swimming or doing water sports.
- Again, be aware of local weather conditions and forecasts.
- Avoid swimming in freshwater such as lakes, ponds,and rivers with poor sanitation.
- Consider protective footwear when swimming in open water. You might step on corals, rocks or other sharp objects underwater.
- Wear a life vest when on the water. Always.
Avoid Road Accidents.
Approximately 1.35 million lives world-wide are cut short as a result of a road traffic crash each year and believe it or not most road accidents are preventable.
- Know and follow speed limits – Not only is speeding on roads illegal, but it’s considered to be #1 reason behind car accidents.
- Distracted Driving – it is anything that takes your attention off the road like using mobile phones (calling, texting or even changing songs), even eating food, assisting kids in the backseat, and picking up items that fell on the floor.
- Never drive when under the influence of alcohol and other psychoactive substances.
- BLOWBAGETS stands for Battery, Lights, Oil, Water, Brake, Air, Gas, Engine, Tire, and Self. Always do a pre-drive inspection.
- Always wear seat-belts, and child restraints; for motorcycles, don’t forget your helmets.
- Avoid driving at night – Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver.
Avoid Animal Bites
- Do not pet or handle animals, their tissues or body fluids, or animal products. If they are not familiar with you, they might bite or scratch you; or they might carry diseases or parasites that can be transmitted to you and others.
- If bitten or scratched, wash the affected area immediately and thoroughly with soap and water. Call a doctor when needed.
Prevent Insect Bites
- Insect bites normally cause small, itchy lumps, or papules. Worst case scenario these insects may carry diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, dengue fever, or the Zika virus.
- Use DEET insect repellent. It protects not by killing mosquitoes or other insects but by preventing them from landing on skin or clothing in the first place. Most of it is also safe for children when applied correctly.
- Alternatives to DEET: Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE).
Eat and Drink Safely
- Wash your hands often and always before handling and consuming food.
- Avoid local tap water and instead seek out bottled water (in sealed, tamper-proof containers); when that’s not available, boiling tap water generally kills most micro-organisms, and there are a number of good water filters and purification tablets that can easily be stowed in your carry-on.
- Steer clear of unpasteurized dairy products, including cheese and yogurt. Check labels for evidence of pasteurization; most canned milk is safe.
- Food should be cooked thoroughly and be sure your dish is served hot.
- Avoid any uncooked food, apart from fruits and vegetables that can be peeled or shelled.
- Always apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, even on a cloudy day.
- When you need to use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply sunscreen first, let it dry then apply insect repellent.
Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Ask your doctor about HPV ((human papillomavirus), Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccine and consider getting them before your trip.
- Always wear a condom during every sexual encounter, specially with new partners.