CDC, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center offer health and safety advice for travellers
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 5:56 pm

OGDENSBURG – If you’re planning a family vacation this spring break or more serious travel this summer, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center has some things for you to consider that can make your trip safer and healthier.

Whether your destination is Disney World, Denver, or Denmark, there are certain things people can do, with a bit of planning.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Claxton-Hepburn recommend that people be proactive, prepared and protected when it comes to the health of your family and friends while you are traveling.

Being proactive is taking the steps to anticipate any issues that could arise during your trip. Not every illness or injury can be prevented, but planning ahead can help deal with them.

It’s helpful to prepare a pre-departure checklist. Take care of routine dental and medical check-ups before you leave. Leave plenty of time to get your vaccinations before you set off. Have your doctor record all your vaccinations and take the certificate on the trip with you. Don’t let an accident to your glasses, contact lenses or dentures ruin your holiday. Always take a spare. If you take medication, take enough to last your entire trip and a few days more in case you experience travel delays. Check your health insurance coverage as health coverage doesn’t always travel with you. Make sure you have health insurance documentation for all people traveling in your group.

If you are flying, current security concerns can make it difficult, if not impossible, to carry some things in your carry-on. You should contact your airline or the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) before you even start to pack, so that you are aware of restrictions and can avoid problems at the airport. Always leave yourself enough time to get through security at the airport. The general rule is to arrive two hours before your flight.

The American Academy of Family Physicians has some recommendations to avoid jet lag. Drink plenty of water, during and after the flight to avoid dehydration. Don’t drink lots of alcohol or take unnecessary medication while in flight. Avoid overeating. Sleep well before the flight. Exercise while on the plane. Walk around the cabin to get blood circulating in your feet and legs. Try stretching in your seat as well. If you have a lay-over, use this time to walk around the airport and get some activity in.

It’s important to pay attention to your health during your trip. According to the CDC, care in what you eat and drink while traveling abroad may be the most important health rule. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it. Eat only food that has been thoroughly cooked and is still hot or fruit you’ve peeled yourself. Travelers should avoid salads, undercooked vegetables, unpasteurized milk and dairy products such as cheese, raw meat and shellfish.

If in doubt, the number one rule is don’t drink the water, and that includes ice. Always assume the worst when it comes to drinking water and plan accordingly. Don’t us water direct from the tap. Sterilize water by boiling it vigorously for at least five minutes. When drinking bottled water or canned drinks clean the area of the bottle or can which will come in contact with your mouth. Use only sterilized water for brushing your teeth, cleaning any cuts or cleaning contact lenses.

Diarrhea is a common traveler’s complaint, sometimes associated with changes in water and food. CDC says, while rarely life threatening, diarrhea can last up to a week and may be more serious in children. CDC says that diarrhea sufferers should drink plenty of safe fluids to avoid dehydration.

The CDC recommends these other health tips to ensure you have a safe and health vacation. Use sunscreen and insect repellant as directed. Do not take risks with your health safety. Limit alcohol intake, and do not drink alcohol and drive. Wear a seatbelt. Wear protective gear when doing adventure activities. And finally, pay attention to your health when you come home.

For more travel health and safety tips visit www.cdc.gov.