Keeping the kids healthy on holiday is often a concern – especially abroad on holidays, when there might not be a pharmacy nearby or the holiday accommodation might suddenly be at the centre of an outbreak of holiday tummy.
Kids’ holiday health – sun and sea
Children have tender skin and protecting them in the sun while they are young can save them from melanoma when they are older. Apply Factor 60 cream every two hours and after swimming (don’t forget ears, noses, knees and toes) – and keep them in the shade for part of the day, or covered up with a T-shirt and hat in the sun. Sunglasses are also essential to protect eyes from bright sunlight and dust and sand.
Make sure your children drink plenty of water in hot weather – kids often forget about drinking when they are happy playing, so make sure they are well hydrated. Signs of dehydration include lethargy and feeling confused – and dehydration can be serious or even fatal, so be watchful and on hand with the water bottle.
For kids, the beach is often the main attraction on holiday (apart from the Aqua Park), but remember that sun can be hotter on an unshaded beach – and sand is a natural abrasive which can cause painful urinary infections like cystitis if your kids run round without their swimsuits on. Make sure all sand is washed off after a trip to the beach – and make sure they are well protected from sun and sand, with lightweight and loose clothing, hats and sunglasses, nonsticky Factor 60 sun cream – and plenty of drinking water and time in the shade.
Most kids who drown on holiday do so within the first 24 hours of the holiday, when they are over-excited and parents are tired from the journey or are relaxing after a heavy work schedule. Keep a keen eye on children round the pool and in the sea and don’t assume everything will be all right or someone else will be watching them – if you cannot see where your children are, it’s time to find them and fast.
Even the Prime Minister assumed his small daughter was being looked after elsewhere and ended up leaving her at the pub, so don’t go on holiday and do a Dave.
Kids’ holiday health – food and drink
Kids are notoriously conventional about what they eat and drink, but if you are staying in hotel accommodation with an all inclusive buffet, being a little conventional round the hotel buffet can prevent a nasty dose of salmonella, campylobacter or E.coli – all of which can make children very ill indeed.
Bacterial and parasitic gastric infections usually result from contaminated water or food, or poorly cooked or stored food, as well as poor hygiene at hotels generally. Unpasteurised milk and infected eggs can also cause food poisoning.
- Don’t’ let kids eat hot dishes allowed to get cool or chilled dishes which have been left out to grow warm, as bacteria can thrive in these conditions.
- Check that meat, fish and poultry have been properly cooked and are not undercooked.
- Peel fruit and vegetables for your children in case these have not been washed or have been washed in contaminated water – if you can manage to get your child to eat salad, make sure this, too, has not been washed in contaminated water.
- Be wary of the open air buffet – birds and reptiles like small lizards carry salmonella and insects can also spread infection. Do not eat food which has been left uncovered and open to insects and birds.
- Only let your child drink water from a sealed bottle – never a communal jug or tap, as these are breeding grounds for bugs.
- Take plenty of antibacterial wipes and use them to wipe cutlery, rims of cups and glasses, loo seats – and hands before eating or drinking.
- Even puddings and ice cream can cause food poisoning if made with infected milk or water, or not stored properly (eg ice cream which has melted and been refrozen or a creamy dessert left to grow warm on a buffet).
If your child screams for chips and burgers on holiday, trade off with a glass of orange juice and a bowl of (peeled) fruit salad, rather than ice creams or puddings – if they want ice cream for pudding add a little peeled fruit salad, too. Kids soon get used to routine and if they never eat fruit, they never will, so make sure their holiday diet is healthy.
Kids’ holiday health – rest and play
Children are usually more active on holiday, but stuffing chips and ice creams in hot weather is a sure way to start feeling sick – never let children go swimming after a heavy meal, when they may feel heavy and even drowsy in the heat. A light lunch at the hottest part of the day is preferable – and plenty of walks along the beach or promenade to walk off those ice creams.
With any sporting activity, make sure you have the proper insurance cover – and the company offering the activity also does. Your child should also be supplied with safety equipment which fits (eg a protective helmet) – and also make sure any tuition required is provided by a suitably skilled and experienced member of staff. Children should also be closely supervised during holiday activities, even if they are skilled at them.
Rest on holiday is not something children anticipate – but after a hectic school term, some peace and quiet can help boost your child’s wellbeing, as well as your own. Dolphin watching trips out to sea and gentler activities like crazy golf or a quiet stroll can make family time special and help your kids relax.
Getting your kids to sleep on holiday can seem a challenge, especially in the first few days, so make sure they wind down at the end of the day before bed. Bedtime stories for little ones, star gazing from the hotel balcony or just discussing the day’s events quietly will help them wind down, so that you can relax and get some valuable shut-eye, too.
Holidaymakers can make Children Safety on Holiday Claims if they their children have had an accident whilst at the Kids Clubs that many hotels now offer.