15th August 2018
Health Visitor Blog Summer
Advice for families taking children abroad this summer
It’s that time again when may of you will be embarking on a summer holiday abroad and I thought I would give you some precautionary information which you may not be aware of to ensure that your holidays are as safe, calm and enjoyable as they can be.
Food and Water Hygiene
Children, especially young children, may be more exposed to water borne illness due to the fact that they are natural explorers but also because they often put their hands in their mouth without washing their hands. Whilst that is difficult to control, here are a few tips to help minimise the risk of illness:
- Encourage frequent hand washing or the use of hand sanitising gel in the absence of water.
- Eat freshly cooked food as opposed to raw food that cannot be peeled or cooked.
- Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
- Water that is drunk or used in the making up of bottles should be boiled. Bottled water is not advised ordinarily as it is not sterile and also often contains a high level of sodium however if you are in an area of contaminated water, you may have to use bottled water.
- Discourage children from drinking shower, bath or swimming pool water.
If your child does pick up and illness that cause diarrhoea they can become dehydrated very quickly so it is important to ensure rehydration; the best way to do this is to use diluted fruit juices or oral rehydration solutions (made up with safe water.
If the diarrhoea is blood or mucous stained, they have a high fever or any abdominal pain, they should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Childhood exposure to ultraviolet light is a significant risk to children and babies as their skin is much thinner and they naturally have lower levels of protective melanin. It is also widely known that early sun exposure has been linked to increased risk of melanoma and other skin cancers in later life. Her are a few suggestions to keep safe in the sun:
- It is advised that babies of less than 6 months stay out of direct sunlight due to their lack of melanin.
- Older infants and children should be kept out of the sun as much as possible, especially between the hours of 10 am and 3pm
- A broad spectrum sunscreen of at least factor 15 (although I would advise higher SPF) should be applied to the skin at least every 2 hours or more if the children have been in the water.
- Protect your child’s head by wearing a hat and their eyes by wearing sunglasses.
Different vaccinations (from the mainstream offered to children and babies) are often needed for certain destinations abroad. It is really important to check with your GP or travel clinic, particularly as these may be age dependant due to the differences in the paediatric immune response (Noakes, 2018). Also, please be aware that some vaccinations will need to be administered a few weeks before departure depending upon the time needed to develop a safe immune response.
A note just to be aware that sometimes you may consider taking your own car seat or booster chair with you as often other countries don’t have the same safety standards as the UK.
For children old enough to use a booster seat, I saw this Trunki BoostApak Travel Backpack Booster Car Seaton line recently and thought that it looked like a great idea.