If you’re going away this summer, make sure that you’re prepared for any illness or injury with a well-stocked holiday first-aid kit…

Schools out, holidays are finally here and for many South Africans, this means it is time to head off on a much anticipated holiday.

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.

How to deal with a medical emergency this summer

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What to pack

Here is the ICPA list of 10 medical kit essentials:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 is also a valuable addition.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 ask for a safe alternative.
  8. 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.
  9. Antihistamines – Over-the-counter antihistamines, which are available as tablets and syrups, are used to treat hayfever 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.
  10. 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 borders, 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.”

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.