Be prepared – first aid essentials

Don't let your holiday be ruined by illness or an accident - carry a well-stocked first aid kit
By Tamlyn Vincent

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Everyone’s excited! The car is packed and you’ll soon be leaving for your family holiday. But don’t forget the first aid kit. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at a local hotel, or driving across country – accidents happen. When they do, you’ll reach for your first aid kit, so it needs to be packed with the essentials.
 
Pain
Headaches, fevers, or muscle pain can spoil your holiday. Your kit should contain ibuprofen and paracetamol. Ibuprofen is a non-steroid pain reliever that also treats inflammation. It’s suitable for children over three months and weighing more than five kilograms. Paracetamol can be given to children over two months old for pain relief. Don’t give these together and check with your doctor if they’re suitable for your child, especially if given with other medication. For treating sore muscles and aches, use an anti-inflammatory.
 
Sore tummies
Take remedies for tummy ailments like stomach aches, cramps, diarrhoea or nausea. Probiotics are a good way to maintain a healthy digestive system, especially after a bout of diarrhoea or a course of antibiotics. Speak to your doctor about whether you need probiotics and the right dosage for you and your family. Pack rehydration solutions as well. These are useful for restoring electrolytes and treating dehydration.
 
Stings
For treating stings and bites, have an antihistamine cream, syrup or pills. Antibiotic cream can also help prevent infection of cuts or bites. A calamine lotion or Aloe Vera gel can help soothe rashes, itches or jellyfish stings, although these stings can be washed in seawater or rinsed with vinegar. Pack an insect repellent that’s safe for use near children. If you or your child uses an epinephrine pen, ensure it is packed and within easy reach.
 
Burns
Preventing burns is the easiest solution – pack Cansa-approved UVA and UVB sunscreen and practise caution when it comes to hot water, campfires and gas. If burns do happen, you’ll need burn dressings. These come pre-packaged in a variety of sizes. You can use burn gel or Aloe Vera gel to soothe minor burns and sunburn. Don’t break blisters caused by a burn and don’t put ice, ointments, butter or other ‘remedies’ on a burn.
 
Plasters and bandages
Don’t forget bandages: strip bandages, triangular bandages, elasticated rolled bandages and gauze dressings are essential. Pack plasters, especially waterproof ones for swimming. Spray on plaster is handy for grazes and cuts on joints or fingers. Include Micropore, a versatile plaster that can be used on deeper cuts when you can’t get a wound stitched straight away. Pack sterile wipes for cleaning cuts, stubbed toes and grazes.
 
Equipment
  • A thermometer indicates when you child’s temperature is too high and treatment is needed. Know your child’s resting temperature, so you have a point of comparison.
  • Tweezers and scissors
  • A cold pack
  • Disposable latex gloves
  • A syringe and medicine spoons
 
Finally, pack any cold, cough or prescription medication you need. Read the medical leaflets provided to check age-appropriate dosages. Replace anything that’s expired or about to run out. If you’re unsure of anything, consult a doctor or pharmacist. You may be heading off for a fun family holiday, but it’s best to be equipped to deal with any bumps, bruises or sore heads.

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