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Yes, you need a high-factor sunblock in your summer survival kit, even in Wales. And don't forget the sachets of vinegar.

Byline: By MADELEINE BRINDLEY Western Mail

It's that time of year again when we prepare for our annual week in the sun abroad. But while there is ample information available about travel health, what do we need to survive a summer at home in Wales? Health Editor Madeleine Brindley spoke to Adrienne Willcox , an expert in travel health, about what summer essentials we should all have at home

THE recent heavy rain and strong winds aside, spring has finally sprung in Wales with balmy temperatures and sun-kissed skies at the start of the month.

And while a week or two of warm weather does not a summer make, it has heralded the inevitable predictions that this year we will have above-average temperatures, coupled with changeable weather patterns, which will fuel the current debate about climate change.

Wales is not the Mediterranean, nor is it Florida, Caribbean, or the baking cities of central Europe, but that does not mean that we should neglect our health, especially if the thermometer does register higher-than-average temperatures in the coming months.

Most of us will plan for almost any emergency or health problem when we're preparing to fly to the sun on holiday - from stocking up on diarrhoea tablets and buy-in-bulk insect repellent, to going through the discomfort of inoculations for those who are travelling to more exotic destinations.

But few of us will ensure that our own homes - or indeed our cars - are stocked with the necessary preventative and remedial essentials, which can help us survive the next three months of summer pain-free and injury-free.

Adrienne Willcox is a senior lifelong learning fellow for the Royal College of Nursing in Wales and an expert in travel health.

She believes that every home should have a first-aid box, stocked with specific products for the summer. A similar kit should also be kept in the car, for use when travelling.

Adrienne's summer survival essentials for people living in, or visiting Wales, include:

A good first-aid book.

Adrienne said, 'There's no point having any kit unless you know what to do with it and not enough people know how to do simple things. This will help in cases of accidents or injury, but will also tell you about first aid - like what to do if you have a nose bleed.'

Have a preventative mind.

Adrienne said, 'Simply doing a risk assessment can prevent something untoward happening. For, example, if you are on one of Wales' beaches and the warning flags are flying, heed them.'

Don't leave home without prescription medicines.

Adrienne advises anyone who is taking prescription medicine for a pre-existing condition, such as migraine or asthma, to take it with them on a day out, in case they should they feel unwell.

Antiseptic and antihistamines.

Antiseptic wipes and an antihistamine cream can be effective for treating insect bites or stings. But Adrienne says instead of buying a brand-name product ask the pharmacist whether it is cheaper under another name. Many treatments and medicines are also available, usually at a lower price, under their generic name.

Sun block.

Adrienne said, 'Sun block is a real priority and should be a high factor, plenty of it and regularly applied.

'I believe we should all start with something higher than a factor 15, because we are on such a skin cancer timebomb in the UK. I would use a 30-plus, up to a 50.

'A tan is a sign of damage to the skin but with all the fake tan lotions now available, why not fake it and use a really high factor sun block to ensure you look good and stay safe.

'It's also important to wear a hat, stay out of the midday sun and be extra careful with children in the sun.

'There is a school of thought which states that because of climate change and the damage to the ozone layer we need more protection against the sun in the UK.

'But we are also more exposed to the sun. In Victorian times we would have been covered up, including the backs of our hands.

'Today, most people have more leisure time to expose themselves to the sun and the rates of skin cancers are rocketing up.'


Adrienne advises including sachets of vinegar - the kind found in cafes - in any first aid kit. Vinegar is very good for easing the pain of a jellyfish sting and can help neutralise the pain of a wasp sting.

Carry bottled water with you.

Not only is it important to ensure that we get plenty to drink, especially in hotter weather, but it can also be used to cool down fractious children, or be poured over a burn.


Adrienne said, 'We only need to worry about mosquitoes in this country because their bites are uncomfortable and unsightly.

'But there are predictions that the UK, or at least parts of it, will again have mosquitoes capable of transmitting malaria.

'Historically, we have had malaria in the UK, and the Department of Health predicts that, in the next 40 years, it could return.

'Having a good repellent is a good idea, and the most effective are those containing Deet (Diethyl-m-toluamide).

'There's no evidence that taking brewer's yeast, garlic or B12 repels mosquitoes, and although there are a number of natural oils, particularly eucalyptus, which are said to help, I wouldn't recommend them because some people can have a reaction between the oil and the sun. 'I also wouldn't recommend them for people visiting a malarial area. 'But, on the whole, people need to try products out and find what works for them.': How to travel healthily-with the right first-aid kit:An NHS website dedicated to giving health travel advice recommends including the following basic items in a first-aid kit for holidays, which can also be used at home:

Emergency medications - these may include paracetamol tablets for headache and antacids for indigestion;

For diarrhoea - fluid replacement powders can be useful for children. Anti-diarrhoea tablets can be obtained from your chemist and are normally used only by older children and adults;

For minor injuries - gauze squares, non-adherent dressings, bandages, fabric plasters, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers and safety pins;

For bites - insect repellents and an antihistamine cream may be helpful;

For sun exposure - sun-block and a cream for using after sunbathing (you should not allow yourself to burn);

A good first aid book can be helpful.

The Fit for Travel website address is If you are travelling abroad this summer, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website - - contains up-to-date travel and health advice.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 29, 2006
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