Can you believe we’re more than half-way through summer? Pretty soon, kids will be getting school supplies or heading off to college. If you haven’t had a chance to take a vacation yet, you still have time before summer comes to a close. Here are some tips to make your last hurrah a success, plus some things to watch out for:
Of course we can’t write about a summer vacation without talking about sunburn. That’s because 62% of us get sunburned while on vacation. It’s painful, but it’s also preventable. Remember to pick up sunscreen, SPF 50 clothing and a wide-brimmed hat before heading out on your trip. Be sure to apply sunscreen 30-minutes before going outside and reapply throughout the day.
The health risks associated with sunburn go much deeper than just aging your skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, if a person has five or more sunburns, they are at twice the risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Most people like to head South for vacation because of the warmer temperatures. However, the heat can be a health risk – especially for those who are not used to it.
Heat stroke is one of the most severe heat-related illnesses. It occurs when the body is unable to control its core temperature. Body temperature may increase to 106 degrees within 10-15 minutes, but the sweating mechanism the body normally uses to cool down is unable to cope. This can cause dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion, unconsciousness and – in severe cases – death.
The best ways to combat the heat is to drink plenty of water and limit outdoor activities during the peak of the day. If you are near a pool, take a dip! But, remember to reapply the sunscreen when you get out of the water.
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but a dip in a pool can pose a risk to your health. A recent report from the CDC found that over the past 20 years, there has been a significant rise in the number of illnesses caused by parasites living in swimming pools and hot tubs. In 2011-12, such parasites were the cause of 1,788 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and one death in the US.
The most common culprit was found to be a parasite called Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto,” which accounted for around half of all recreational water-related illnesses. Crypto is the cause of a disease called cryptosporidiosis, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, nausea, dehydration, vomiting, weight loss and fever.
Cryptosporidium is resistant to chlorine – the main chemical used to sanitize pools and hot tubs – meaning it can live for up to 10 days, even in pools and hot tubs that are well maintained.
While it is impossible to ensure other pool users are hygienic, there are some simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of illness:
- Avoid using the pool if you have diarrhea
- Shower before entering the water
- Avoid swallowing pool water
- Avoid urinating or defecating in the water
- Ensure children take regular toilet breaks
Food and Drink
Particularly when traveling abroad and experiencing different cultures, the local cuisine doesn’t always set well in our stomachs.
According to the Rx for Travel Health survey, around 12% of American travelers experience food poisoning while on vacation. Food poisoning can last for days, causing such severe sickness and diarrhea that it is almost impossible to leave your hotel room.
It’s also wise to not drink tap water while vacationing in developing countries. Instead, drink bottled water – ensuring the seal has not been broken. Also, avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables – unless you have prepared them yourself – as these may have been rinsed with contaminated water.
Be wary of eating fish and shellfish when abroad. According to the CDC, around 50,000 annual cases of foodborne illnesses among US travelers are caused by these foods.
Ensure meat and poultry are thoroughly cooked before eating them, and avoid prepared food that has been left unrefrigerated for a number of hours – especially meat, poultry, egg and dairy products.
Be sure to pack bug spray and anti-itch cream if you’re traveling somewhere known for mosquitoes and other insects that carry disease.
Do you need vaccinating? If you are traveling to developing countries, where conditions are often less sanitary and pose higher risk of infection, you may need certain vaccines. Speak to your doctor to find out whether you need any vaccinations before you travel.
People with existing medical conditions should ensure they take any required medication with them, and it is a good idea to check there are health care services available at your destination should you require treatment.
Also make sure you have enough of your medications to last your entire vacation so you don’t run the risk of running out of them. It’s also a good idea to travel with a first aid kit and to check the medical facilities available at your destination.