Top of your packing list should be your child’s medical kit, but it’s all too easy to forget. Plan ahead by preparing one before you pack, says Jill Starley-Grainger
Everyone loves a holiday, but packing for it is another matter. There’s always the nagging feeling you’re forgetting a crucial item. Put your mind at ease about one of the most important essentials, your child’s medical kit, by creating one now. Next time you travel, just pop it in your suitcase before packing, safe in the knowledge you’re prepared for life’s little emergencies.
Many people think of medical kits only for long trips to exotic locales, but you’ll need one for short trips, too. If your child gets diarrhoea at 2am at your Devon cottage, you’ll both be thankful you planned ahead.
To keep your medical kit from filling up a suitcase, buy travel-sized products or split regular-sized items between your travel kit and home medical kit. Make sure the medicines in both kits have all necessary details, including manufacturer, medical information and expiry dates. Bin the box and keep the original information leaflets with your travel kit in case your luggage gets searched, using an elastic band to secure them to the relevant products.
The bare necessities
Whether you’re travelling to Snowdonia or Sydney, you’ll need some first-aid essentials. Consider these items a starter for your child’s medical kit, to be taken with you no matter what your destination. , Most ready-made travel first-aid kits will come with all of these essentials except the children’s analgesic.
• Non-alcoholic cleansing wipes: to clean wounds before dressing
• Adhesive tape, bandages and sterile dressings: for dressing wounds
• Children’s analgesic: e.g. children’s aspirin or paracetamol
• Disposable gloves: use when dressing wounds
• Oral rehydration salts: to replace fluid loss caused by diarrhoea, heat stroke, etc
• Plasters: assorted sizes and styles
• Scissors: with rounded tips and strong enough to cut through clothing
• Safety pins: for securing bandages and dressings
• Thermometer: a non-glass type
• Triangular bandages: to use as slings or support for sprains
• Emergency guide: print the British Red Cross First Aid Tips for babies and children from www.redcross.org.uk/firstaid
Make sure you know the emergency telephone numbers and nearest hospital for your destination – especially important if you’re staying in remote areas or self-contained accommodation.
Must-haves The bare necessities will prove useful for a variety of serious emergencies, but having the following products in your kit will help your child feel better quickly if he or she becomes ill. Many chemists close one day a week and early on Saturdays, even in Europe, so stock up on enough of these to get you through a 48-hour period. • Children’s cold and flu remedies
• Children’s diarrhoea tablets
• Children’s insect repellent
• Insect bite and sting treatment
• Antiseptic spray or wipes
• Children’s motion sickness tablets
• Children’s cough remedies
• Throat lozenges
• Children’s sunscreen
Butter for burns? Don’t do it! It’s doesn’t help and can cause problems for serious burns. Instead, place the burned area under cool, running water for at least 10 minutes, then cover with a non-fluffy dressing or clingfilm. Don’t use ice, which can cause a cold burn.
Prescription medicine Take enough supplies of your child’s prescription medicine to last the full trip, plus a little extra in case your return is delayed. Pack them in their labelled container, and, if going abroad, ask your doctor for a letter or a personal health record giving details of the medicines in case customs officials need to see them.
[Pull out] Some over-the-counter and prescription medicines that are legal in the UK are illegal in other countries. Contact that country’s embassy or high commission before travelling to ensure you won’t be breaking the law.
Many trips will necessitate top-ups to your kit. The following are pointers, but talk to your Boots Health Consultant or pharmacist for advice on products you might need and whether to see your GP.
• Hot destinations
Even if you aren’t planning to hit the beach, it’s easy to forget how strong the sun can be. Pack a large bottle of high-SPF children’s sunscreen and sunburn gel or cream. Stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day, and remember that if you’re going somewhere with extreme temperature changes between day and night, such as the desert, you’ll need to be prepared for the cold, too.
• > Cold destinations
Even if you wrap up your children in warm clothes from top to toe, it doesn’t take much exposure to the elements to cause serious problems. A foil survival blanket packs down small enough to carry in your backpack and it could just save your child’s life. And don’t forget sunscreen. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburned, especially in the snow.
• Water issues
If you’ll be away from clean, running water for more than a couple of hours, such as on walking or camping holidays or trips to developing countries, your medical kit needs to include sterile eye wash, burn gel, water purification tablets and wet wipes.
For more information Boots Holiday Health http://www.boots.com/shop/category_new_template.jsp?classificationid=1036028 British Red Cross, www.redcross.org.uk Foreign & Commonwealth Office Travel Advice, www.fco.gov.uk/travel World Health Organisation www.who.int/ith/en