Staying Safe On Holiday – Tips For Parents

So, you’ve booked your tickets, packed your suitcase, and remembered where your passport is. It’s nearly holiday time! In amongst the excitement of going on holiday, it’s normal to feel some concerns about holiday safety, especially when you have kids, so here are a few things to remember when travelling.

New food – to try or not to try
Sampling the local cuisine when you are abroad can be fun and exciting for kids and adults alike and is part of the holiday experience for many families. However the method in which some food is cooked and prepared is completely different to that at home so some caution has to be exercised.

Your palate may be game, but sometimes your stomach might not be accustomed to it. One difference between home grown and foreign foods is the use of more natural fertilisers, which can carry bacteria that could cause internal distress, also known as ‘traveller’s tummy’. Another is herbs and spices that you may not have tasted before. Your body is not used to these new ingredients, and may protest quite strongly to their introduction! Those who are pregnant, elderly or have weakened immune systems should be extra careful. That is not to say that you shouldn’t try the local cuisine, but do take care.

One of the most common sources of dietary problems whilst travelling is water. Drinking tap water, taking ice cubes in your drink or just brushing your teeth with tap water can cause a tummy upset. With a few exceptions, it is safer to stick to bottled water. It is equally important to avoid raw salad, vegetables and fruit as these would have been washed with tap water. Nuts and other shelled foods are a better choice whilst abroad, for those who are a little delicate in the stomach area, as are fruits and vegetables you can peel yourself.

When eating out, try to avoid street vendors. It may be convenient to buy food on the go, but it can be risky. Pick restaurants that are busy, look clean and have a few locals dining – these are the best indicators that the food is safe! If you are in a non-English speaking country, it’s a good idea to have a phrasebook on hand to help translate the menu and potentially avoid any risky dishes.

And the best bit of advice? Always wash your hands, especially before you eat – simple, but so very effective!

In the event that you are suffering, avoid any food you don’t recognise until you’re feeling better and have some Dioralyte (rehydration salts) with you in case one of you has traveller’s tum. Children can dehydrate much faster than adults!

Water safety – know the risks but have fun!
Holidays with children often revolve around the beach or pool, and as a parent that means staying alert at all times. Water is particularly dangerous for children because they like to play, move quickly and do not associate water with danger. Even if your children can swim well, you need to keep an eye on them. If you’re travelling with a group, take turns watching out for the kids; so all parents get to relax a little too. A temporary lapse in adult supervision can result in drowning and near drowning accidents. Many people are not aware that in most drowning cases there is no splashing or cry for help.

Even adults should keep to a few rules when at the beach or by the pool: Make sure you tell someone in your party if you are going somewhere, be it into the water or to grab something to eat and never swim alone or after sunset. Also stay out of unfamiliar water; there may be dangerous currents or variable depths. Never swim after eating a large meal or if you are feeling unwell and always read the warning signs and notices.

And always remember the suntan lotion; keep topped up after every swim and even when it’s cloudy.

Armed with these tips, you should be able to have a relaxing, safe and enjoyable holiday with your family! Have fun!

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