Whether you are a business traveler or traveling for personal reasons, injuries can not be totally avoided. It’s a disheartening fact to learn that according to the World Health Organization, injuries are one of the many reasons of death of travelers. The good fact about these injuries is that they are preventable. Being prepared will increase the fun in your trip manifold and will keep the injuries at bay.
Why travelers are susceptible to injuries?
- New environment including food and water quality
- Driving or riding in unfamiliar terrain
- Unknown rules and laws
- Difference in language
- Nervousness and fear in elderly and first-time/less frequent travelers
Types of Injuries & Recommendations
General Injuries: These may be as simple as a twisted ankle, fall in shower, slipping on wet/slippery surface, finger cut while slicing veggies or fruits, bug bites or normally overlooked sunburns, dehydration etc. In such cases, heed to these recommendations and stay safe from injuries:
- Familiarize yourself to some extent with the new terrain of your destination country. Choose your clothing and footwear accordingly. This would help in avoiding bug bites, slipping on wet/slippery surface, twist in ankle.
- Be careful while getting in and out of the bath tub. Use handles to hold on and spread extra mat on the floor to absorb the dripping water.
- Sunstroke or sunburns are very common for travelers in hot climate. This is often not even thought of but imagine the discomfort after getting burnt in the Sun. Use a good sunscreen lotion and use it as often as possible, even when you are just out walking. Do not forget to replenish your skin with the lotion many times in a day when on beach or pool.
- Dehydration: When it is sunny, the possibility of dehydration increases. The lack of water or enough liquid in the body may make you dizzy leading to other injuries like fall or slipping quite probable. Keep drinking enough liquids. It should be noted that alcohol is not a liquid that would protect you from dehydration.
- Take extra care while chopping vegetables or slicing fruits. If you purchase a knife from from a country other than your home country, take a careful look at it’s sharpness. Moreover, if you are left-handed, look for a knife/peeler specially designed for lefties.
Fire-related injuries: Fire-related injuries may be uncommon but their possibility should not be ignored. Keep in mind these simple recommendations:
- Travelers must inspect hotels and other place of accommodations for smoke alarms.
- They should not smoke in non-smoking zones and rules must be followed at all costs. Care should be taken to dispose cigarette butts.
- During a barbecue too, especially in open/wild areas, reckless behavior can cause grave injuries.
- Travelers must make themselves aware of escape routes in their place of accommodation.
- If there is a fire, keep your cool. Panic will only add to the criticality of the situation. Crawl on the floor where the effect of the smoke is the least.
Traffic Injuries: Both riding as well as driving in a foreign country can put the traveler at risk if due attention is not paid. Traffic injuries are very common and sometimes can be fatal. Travelers are normally not aware of rules and regulations of the foreign land. In such cases, they should not assume that the rules/ways are similar to their country. When in doubt, they should ask for help, research or read.
- Travelers should drive only if they possess a license that permits them to drive internationally.
- Drunk driving can lead to death and extreme penalties.
- Do not rent vehicles that do not follow safety regulations.
- Proper use of seat belts and child-restraint systems should never be neglected.
- Cell phones should not be used while driving, not even for a single second.
- Prior to driving, the meaning of traffic signs and proper speed limits should be known in order to avoid any panic during driving.
- If a traveler is a pedestrian, he should be aware of where he can walk, and should take utmost care while crossing the road.
Water-related Injuries: Water related injuries can be a hazard during a trip at coastal regions. Drowning is one of the most common ones. Other aquatic injuries can happen because of recklessness, unfamiliarity with water currents, diving into shallow water, swimming in deep waters especially when one is not well versed in swimming, and because of dangerous sea animals. People have drowned while boating in absence of life-jackets. Such aquatic injuries can be surely avoided:
- Follow rules and regulations of the coastal beach wherever you are.
- Do not swim in absence of a lifeguard on duty (if you are not an expert in swimming).
- If trying surf boarding for the first time, try it where the waves are not wild.
- Scuba diving and other water sports must be done in presence of an authorized instructor.
- Rent water sport equipments from a reliable shop and must be checked for safety compliance.
- Take care of the kids. It should be kept in mind that even making sand castles can cause an injury if the sand goes in eyes, nose and ears. In such a case, visit a doctor immediately.
Summing up, injuries can be avoided by following proper code of conduct. Undesirable events are not in our control, so if they occur one must not lose their cool, and should try to manage the situation in best possible ways. Here are some of the very important things to always remember:
- Follow rules and regulations of the destination country. Precaution is your best friend in an unknown land.
- Carry a first-aid kit and take basic first aid as well as CPR training.
- Purchase travel health insurance including medical evacuation insurance.
- If the trip comprises of extreme activities like bungee jumping, sky diving, snowboarding etc., visitor insurance must have benefits providing coverage for all these.
- Visitor insurance plans should be chosen based on nature of the trip, duration as well as presence of acute onset of pre-existing conditions.