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How to avoid injury and stay safe while on holiday

We all love a week or two away, and many of us count down the days each year until we have nothing to do but enjoy the sun, sea and sand at our favourite holiday destination. With our day to day responsibilities temporarily forgotten and a chance to unwind, however, it's easy to overlook some of the potential accidents that can occur while we're away. While most holidays pass without incident, it's worth remembering a few simple tips that can help you stay safe, and leave you happy and healthy to enjoy your much-deserved break.

Avoiding slips and falls

Falls are some of the commonest causes of injuries suffered by holidaymakers. A hotspot for slips, trips and falls is around the swimming pool. While many pool areas are covered with non-slip, grippable surfaces, there are often areas of smooth tiles or other slippery surfaces that become extremely dangerous when wet. While you might not be tempted to run around the pool area, preferring a relaxed stroll instead, it's a good idea to warn children not to race around potentially slippery areas. As well as the risk of injury from landing on a hard surface, there is also the added danger of an inexperienced swimmer falling into the pool itself.

Swollen ankle showing bruising and the application of an ice pack

Staying safe in the sea

Larger holiday resorts will most likely have lifeguards keeping an eye out for anyone getting into difficulty in the sea, ready to leap into action if anything untoward happens. On busy beaches, however, it's impossible for even the most experienced and dedicated teams to watch everyone all the time, so take care when swimming in the sea. Take note of any warnings of strong currents, and don't ever venture too far from the shoreline, even if you are a confident swimmer. Lilos and other inflatable accessories also present a danger. It's all too easy to switch off and relax, then open your eyes minutes later to find you've drifted far out to sea. Inflatable aids can also give less competent swimmers a false sense of security, and encourage them to venture further out than they would otherwise be comfortable with.

Close up of someone wakeboarding showing their legs and the board itself

If watersports are a big part of your holiday, check you're covered by your insurance provider, for the activity you're doing. Only ever hire equipment from reputable, professional companies, and ask around or check online reviews beforehand, if you're visiting a destination for the first time. Check the business has relevant and up to date safety certificates, and if any equipment or safety accessories look tired and past their best, or if you have any doubt about the experience and knowledge of the staff, walk away and look elsewhere.

Avoiding trips while out and about

Paving in many holiday destinations might be rustic to say the least, and with so much going on around you and so much to take in, it's easy to take your mind off where you're stepping, and then trip over loose slabs or uneven surfaces. While most trips and falls will only lead to minor injuries, even sprains, cuts and bruises can be extremely painful and can easily ruin the rest of your holiday. Be careful when walking on uneven or damaged pavements or roads, and take a torch with you if the walk back to your accommodation isn't well lit after dark.

Image of a yellow plastic wet floor sign

Insect bites

The dreaded mosquito has ruined many a holiday, and there's no way to completely avoid bites and stings from flying pests. Insect repellents can help, but some people find they get bitten no matter what precautions they take. Mosquito plugs are popular, but you'll need to make sure you plug yours in every evening with a fresh tablet in order for it to be effective. Take some sting and bite relief cream with you to use in the event that you do get bitten, or stock up at the local pharmacy when you arrive. There are many old wives' tales relating to ways to avoid mosquito bites, including eating Marmite to keep them at bay, but it does seem that some of us are just more appealing to mozzies than others!

While some people barely notice if they've been bitten, others find every bite turns into an itchy, angry red mark. Antihistamines can help reduce your reaction to bites, so taking a one-a-day pack of generic allergy tablets with you is a good idea if you tend to suffer. It’s important to remember to take one every single day, and not just after you've been bitten. If you have a particularly nasty reaction to a bite or sting, pop into the pharmacy and ask their advice.

Staying safe while driving abroad

Most experienced drivers will be confident driving abroad, but it's worth bearing in mind that road conditions might not be what you're used to in the UK. Take time to study the rules of the road of your destination country before your trip, and familiarise yourself with common road signs. Always stick to the speed limit and don't be tempted to try and keep up with local drivers. Bear in mind they are likely to be familiar with the roads and will be aware of any upcoming sharp bends or twists. Health and safety regulations differ wildly around the world, and you might find standards are very different to what you're used to.

If you're tempted to hire a moped or scooter while on holiday, check your insurance policy will cover you in the event of an accident. While many tour operators recommend steering clear of such activities, if you're determined, ensure you only hire from a reputable company. It's vital you wear adequate head protection, even if you notice none of the locals seem to. Stick to well-maintained roads, as far as possible, and always observe speed limits.

In your accommodation

If you have booked your accommodation through a reputable tour operator, it's reasonable to expect a certain level of health and safety. If you notice anything that gives you cause for concern, such as dodgy wiring, cracked window glass or loose floor tiles, raise the issue with your holiday rep or hotel management as soon as possible. Ask to be moved to another room, or demand that repairs be carried out immediately. If you prefer to go it alone and book your accommodation from a private owner, check reviews before you commit to the booking, and avoid anywhere that appears to be poorly maintained.

Image of a patient lying on a bed being checked by two doctors

Of course, accidents can happen no matter how careful you are, and while most holidays are enjoyable and carefree, it pays to be prepared. Always ensure you have adequate travel insurance for your entire party, and check what's included before you go. Some policies will exclude you from cover if you participate in certain sports or activities while on holiday, so it's vital you read the small print if you have any activities planned. If you're travelling to an unfamiliar destination, especially a smaller, more isolated town or resort, get hold of the details of the local doctor before you fly. Take their phone number and address with you so you can easily contact them in the event of an accident. Local pharmacies are also a goldmine of remedies for minor illnesses or injuries, and staff in most popular resorts will speak at least enough English to be able to help you out.