Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Avoid wearing tight clothes on long-distance journeys.
- Do regular stretching exercises and try to walk around the plane at regular intervals.
- Drink plenty of fluids e.g. water during the flight.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine-containing drinks.
- Do not cross your legs when seated.
Some countries are very different in the way animals and even people are treated. This can cause unease or distress. Do read up if visiting unfamiliar areas to prepare yourself.
Eating and Drinking
The quality of drinking water and general food and hygiene standards will vary across the world. General precautions to take are:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after going to the toilet and always before eating, drinking or smoking.
- Carry antibacterial hand gel as a back-up.
- Use bottled water, check the seals are unbroken.
- Boil water or filter using a water purifier.
- Do not have ice in drinks if you are unsure of the water source.
- Avoid uncovered food and eating at places if you are unsure of their hygiene practices e.g. street vendor, kiosks.
May be caused by the change of diet and climate. If this strikes avoid dehydration with electrolyte solutions and although products such as Imodium can give a quick fix (literally) they may prolong diarrhoeal illness. Always carry some spare tissues for loo roll!
The Sun and High Temperatures
If you are lucky you will be visiting warmer climes which we definitely aren’t used to in the UK! As such:
- Use a sun cream with a high protection factor (SPF). Reapply it every couple of hours, remembering to include the ears, lips, hair parting and tip of the nose.
- Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm when the rays are strongest.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and loose clothing.
- Choose sunglasses with UV filters to protect your eyes.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day.
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids to keep hydrated.
Snow, Ice and Cold Temperatures
Even in the cold the sun, especially when it reflects off snow can burn. Always use a sun cream of SPF15 or above and wear sunglasses or goggles, even in cloudy weather.
Hypothermia can occur if the body temperature falls below 35°C (95°F). Frostbite can occur if the temperature of the extremities (fingers, cheeks, ears, nose, and toes) drops below freezing.
Simple steps to take are: wear a hat, clothes and gloves with sufficient insulation, layer up (wind and waterproof) and wear warm waterproof footwear which also has a good grip to avoid the inevitable slips if walking on ice and snow.
If you suspect someone has hypothermia or frostbite, stop immediately. Keep them warm and ensure they avoid physical activity, drinking or smoking which makes symptoms worse.
At high altitudes, the air will be thinner and may cause extreme tiredness. To help lessen the effects, start a pre-trip fitness regime at least six weeks before departure and try to acclimatise by working on the lower slopes before proceeding to the higher altitudes.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) causes dizziness, nausea, raging headaches and radical change in personality or behaviour. If symptoms arise, alert someone e.g. Group Leader, Mountain Rescue and try to descend immediately.
Insects (including Malaria)
Insect bites can be common and can lead to unpleasant reactions, even disease. Seek medical attention if an insect bite causes swelling, bruising or persistent pain. In addition:
- Pre-trip check with your GP if medication is needed e.g. malaria tablets.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET (avoid high concentrations). Pregnant and breastfeeding women should call their GP as some products must be avoided
- Wear suitable clothing such as long trousers, long sleeved tops and enclosed footwear.
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping, especially in malaria areas.
- Keep legs covered after sunset.
- Avoid using scented products such as perfume, deodorant which act as ‘mozzie magnets’.
- Seek immediate medical aid if bitten by anything unusual e.g. a spider.
Animals can injure and even transmit infections. Direct contact with animals, even domestic pets is best avoided. However, if your work will involve direct or possible contact with animals (especially dogs, monkeys, cats and bats) you may need a Rabies Vaccine (can occur in Europe, North Africa and the developing world) before travel.
If you do get bitten, licked or scratched by an animal.
- Wash the area with soap / detergent under a running tap for at least 5 minutes.
- Seek medical advice immediately. Rabies Vaccines must be started straight away.
- Record details of the incident and animal. If it is domesticated, try to find the owner and check if the animal has an up-to-date rabies vaccine.
- Report the incident to the Police – you will need a formal report for Insurance.
- Consult your GP on your return to the UK.
More Unusual Risks
Do check with your overseas contacts before departure about ‘unusual’ risks such as spiders, snakes, reptiles which may need to be considered and even included in an Activity Risk Assessment when visiting some areas.