Follow these simple steps to be accident-ready on holiday

Stop sunshine scrapes becoming a real pain by following these steps to being accident-ready on holiday

  • Neil Simpson advises keeping prescription medication in your hand luggage 
  • You can also share some with a travel companion in case it gets lost
  • There are ready-made first-aid kits available and Boots has one for £11.99 

Cover all bases: Make sure you pack for any eventuality – from cuts and bruises to a dodgy tummy 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: family first aid and holiday health strategies.

Passport, tickets, money: and a decent first-aid kit. Doctors want us to add the last item to our list of holiday essentials, because far from home is not a good time to realise you need antiseptic cream, a bandage or something to stem an upset stomach. Here’s how to be accident-ready on holiday.

ONE: Get a ready-made first-aid kit. Boots has one for £11.99 while the internet has alternatives from £2.50 to more than £100 for extreme sports. With Boots you get wound-cleansing wipes, dressings and plasters as well as an ‘instant ice pack’ and burn gel sachets. There’s also a First Aid Guide showing how to deal with minor injuries such as splinters, sprains and burns.

TWO: A DIY kit will be more comprehensive. Search under ‘travel health checklist’ at nhs.uk and there’s a list of items to pack. As well as the mix of items in the ready-made kits, GPs recommend antiseptic creams or washes, painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (also useful for inflammation), antihistamine treatments (for allergies or bites), anti-diarrhoea pills and rehydration sachets.

THREE: Most people put first-aid kits in hold luggage, but if you take it as hand luggage be ready to take it apart at security. Tweezers and scissors with blades under 6cm long are allowed but every day airport staff say lots of secondary bag searches take place because travellers didn’t realise tubes of antiseptic or bottles of eye-wash in first-aid kits should have gone in clear plastic bags with other liquids and gels.

FOUR: Keep prescription medication in your hand luggage, and share some with a travel companion in case it gets lost. GPs recommend taking a copy of your prescription and keeping medications in original packaging with information leaflets. Check the drug name rather than the UK brand name is on the packaging in case you need replacements overseas.

Get a ready-made first-aid kit. Boots has one for £11.99 while the internet has alternatives from £2.50 to more than £100 for extreme sports

FIVE: Don’t pack too many of the same pills, as this can look suspicious if you are stopped at customs, especially in places like the US. Immigration staff say a month’s supply of medication for those on a two-week holiday is reasonable. Any more can trigger questions, extra searches and delays.

SIX: Some UK medications are banned in popular destinations including Dubai, Turkey and Singapore, and you can be fined or even jailed if they’re found in your luggage. Strong painkillers such as codeine or tramadol, anti-anxiety medications including diazepam, sleeping tablets with temazepam and drugs like Ritalin are most likely to be prohibited. The Health Department’s travelhealthpro.org.uk has information on which medications can be taken where.

SEVEN: The final ingredient in the first-aid mix is decent sunscreen – but beware of dusting off a half-used bottle from the back of the bathroom cabinet. Experts say the active ingredients in sunscreen weaken over time, and bottles have a ‘Use by’ symbol on the back (a round jar with the lid off and the number inside is the months the lotion stays fully effective after opening). Best advice is to buy new, high-factor cream every trip and pack in hold luggage.

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