January 26, 2012

January 26, 2012
5 Worst Summer Travel Dangers

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. It has been another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me. We have had several interviews, appointments and meetings which have kept us hopping as we continue to recover from a horrible bug we have had since New Years.

I have been blogging about traveling for the past week. Today I would like to blog about the dangers of traveling during the summer since so many people take at least one vacation during the summer months. Heat, currents and insects can ruin vacations — even take lives.

When we travel, we tend to worry about the more obvious and extreme dangers — plane crashes, hurricanes and the like. But the worst traveling dangers can actually seem quite innocuous. You need to know about them so that, with a little forethought, you will be able to avoid the potential harm they can cause for you or your family.

1. Rip Currents

Did you know that most ocean drowning deaths are due to rip currents?

Rip currents are strong channels of water that can pull swimmers in, no matter how strong the swimmer. They do not pull people under water, but rather pull them away from shore. Unable to fight the current, swimmers can find themselves in major trouble due to exhaustion and panic. The scary thing is, this can happen even in knee deep water or in a large lake.

Always swim with a buddy and never swim near jetties and piers, where those rip currents are fixed.

If you get caught, do not fight against the current because you probably will not win. Instead, swim parallel to the beach until you are free, or tread water until help arrives. If you see someone who needs help, do NOT attempt a rescue or you may be pulled in yourself.

2. Jellyfish

We all have some primal fear of being attacked by sharks in the water, but what about something even more commonplace? Jellyfish exist all over the world, ranging from nearly harmless to extremely venomous. In Australia, a sting from the box jellyfish is so poisonous and painful that victims often go into shock and drown before they can reach shore.

But most jellyfish stings are easily treatable. If you are stung, clean the area with seawater, followed by vinegar. (One exception, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a sting from the Chesapeake Bay area sea nettle, which responds better to baking soda.)

Leftover stingers can be scraped off by covering the area with a paste of seawater and talcum powder or baking soda and waiting until it dries. After that, ice and common Calamine lotion or other over the counter skin cream can help soothe the area.

Seek medical attention if you see swelling or redness over a large area of skin, or if you have a severe reaction like difficulty breathing or nausea.

3. Pickpocketing

Pickpocketing exists all around the world, and while it is generally not a violent crime, it can cause major disruptions in your travels. Pickpocketers love to target unsuspecting tourists, and many have honed this skill into an art form. The bottom line is that pickpockets and con artists look for easy targets, and a traveler in a new destination makes the perfect victim.

One of the oldest tricks in the book is for someone to drop something in front of you or ask for directions. While you're distracted, the scammer's partner picks your pocket from behind. Children are often used to distract well-meaning tourists, as are young women holding babies.

Don't make it easy: Separate your cash and credit cards so they're not in the same place. And this should be a no-brainer, but don't be the person standing on the sidewalk looking lost, examining a map, or staring raptly at your cellphone.

Skip the fanny packs and opt for a flat money belt or passport holder that you can wear under your clothes. Never carry a tote bag or purse that only snaps shut; zippers are a must, and straps should be diagonal across your chest, not slung over the shoulder.

PacSafe makes a handy line of theft proof bags, with slashproof mesh material, and zippers that can be locked, plus a cable that can be attached to a stationary item.

Leave behind an emergency credit card and cash in the hotel. If you are concerned about security, use the safe behind the front desk, not the room safe, or secure a theft proof bag to the bed or desk with a cable lock.

Make backup photocopies or scans of your passport identification page, airline tickets and credit cards. That way if you are robbed, you have got options to speed up the recovery process.

Finally, ladies especially, do not wander alone, and watch your alcohol intake.

4. Heat Exhaustion

Excessive heat has killed more Americans than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. It is something that most people do not think about, especially when trying to pack in a full day of activities while on vacation.

But the reality is, it is crucial to take breaks and get inside an air-conditioned space for at least two hours a day; this is especially the case for infants, children and the elderly. The good news is that it is easy to arrange such breaks when traveling because it could mean cooling off in a restaurant, mall or museum. If possible, schedule your day so that you are outside early in the morning and in the evenings, and indoors in the afternoon when the sun is its strongest.

Another tip: Dress up, not down, with lightweight, light colored and loose fitting clothing. It is better to cover your skin than expose it to the elements. Also, overeating can exacerbate the situation, so stick with several small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones, and avoid alcohol, caffeine and high sugar drinks.

5. Creepy Crawlers

Spiders and ticks and snakes, oh my! It is a wonder anyone leaves the house when you think of all the little critters lurking out there. But as long as you pack a little common sense when you head into the great outdoors, you will be safe.

Stick to well marked trails, and wear a long sleeved shirt and pants tucked into your shoes — you are not making any fashion statements here. Keep your hands and feet away from areas where you can not see, like holes, hollow stumps and high grass. Insect repellents can save the day, but make sure it contains at least 20 percent DEET. (Some studies have theorized high concentrations of DEET can cause skin and other health problems. Still, DEET has been approved by the American Association of Pediatrics for kids above the age of two. If you are concerned, there a number of natural repellents available at your drug or sporting goods store.)

According to the Red Cross, a basic outdoors first aid kit should contain: antiseptic ointment, a cold pack, disposable gloves, adhesive bandages and tape, gauze, tweezers, scissors, disposable gloves, a blanket and a flashlight. Remember to pack any of your own meds, particularly if you have allergies.

The best protection is vigilance. After a walk or a hike, inspect yourself thoroughly for any evidence of ticks or bites. If you notice any swelling, bruising or red streaks, seek medical attention.

And the No. 1 most important safety rule? Never venture out alone, and always let someone at home or the park ranger know where you are headed.

Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe and great summer holiday!

Hope you have a great Thursday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab