SOME HEALTHY ADVICE

In 2012 British citizens made 57 million visits abroad. They spent in excess of 30 billion pounds in doing so. Many people now take more than one holiday overseas each year. The cost of foreign travel is reducing all the time. The Internet now allows people the freedom to choose. These facts also include some not too pleasant reading.

You are far more likely to suffer some form of illness whilst abroad. This is most likely to be food related. For older travellers or families with young children this can be both dangerous and distressing.

The Travel and Tourism Industry has become one of the most important global commercial activities. The forecast is for it to become the world's largest industry sector in just a few years' time. Many people take organised package trips, but the self-arranged holiday, with the advent of the Internet, has increased sharply in recent years. Many more holidays will be taken. Risks will go up...

Environmental health and safety when travelling is becoming a major issue. As this sector is growing worldwide, choice and quality will become ever more important. There are several environmental risks associated with travel. Food Safety, Water Safety and Pool Safety are high on the list. Protection for the traveller is well established in EU directives and in individual country legislation, wherever you are in the world!

Particularly with regard to food and water safety issues, it is well known that food and water-borne illnesses are at best unpleasant, and at worst they can be fatal.

There exists however, well-established risk management systems, including food and water safety programmes that, if correctly implemented at the premises, help to minimise the risk of these illnesses happening to you. Check safety first.com is an information network designed to increase public awareness of environmental safety and to promote hotels where better standards of safety exist.

By using this website you will be able to check out safety standards at the hotel you may be considering booking for your holidays and/or business travel. Also you will be able to find the safest hotels at the country, resort, area, etc. of your choice when you plan your holidays and/or business travel. Nothing is ever completely safe, but we are here to show you hotels where the risk are significantly lower.

However, there are some other things you can do in order to stay healthy when you are away travelling. You can be prepared and know as much as possible about your destination.

SOME OF THE BEST OF THIS ADVICE CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

World Health Organization  Foreign and Commonwealth Office  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

STAYING HEALTHY

Check Safety First has created 'Holiday Health and Safety Tips' to provide basic advice and help you to avoid some of the holiday health and safety risks that cause injury and illness for millions of British tourists each year.

This guide includes details and advice on some of the considerations that ANY hotel or apartment should have in place to protect its guests. 'Holiday Health and Safety Tips' contains information on accommodation, swimming pool, food, fire and even hurricane safety, all of which is designed to alert you to safety standards and potential risks before they have a chance to ruin your break.

Check safety first.com is an information network designed to increase public awareness of environmental safety and to promote hotels where better standards of safety exist. By using this website you will be able to check out safety standards at the hotel you may be considering booking for your holidays and/or business travel. Also you will be able to find the safest hotels at the country, resort, area, etc. of your choice when you plan your holidays and/or business travel. Nothing is ever completely safe, but we are here to show you hotels where the risk are significantly lower.

However, there are some other things you can do in order to stay healthy when you are away travelling. You can be prepared and know as much as possible about your destination.

+ Food Safety
  • Clean, Clean, Clean... Look around, if the place where you are going to eat looks dirty, poorly maintained, has rubbish lying around or has evidence of pests then the areas you cannot see will be much worse. When it comes to the kitchen this is unacceptable and eating food prepared in these conditions is asking for food poisoning.
  • Cooked foods... Do not accept undercooked foods. Cooking is one of the main methods of killing off any harmful bacteria that may be present in food and if this is not done properly then there is a risk that you could become seriously ill
  • Hot not warm... Temperature control is vitally important when preventing food poisoning bacteria from multiplying. Food must be hot to avoid the optimal growth range from bacteria which are normally kept to an absolute minimum at high temperatures. So if it comes to you warm send it back.
  • Water in all its forms... Waterborne micro-organisms can cause severe illnesses in those not used to them. Avoiding water may seem a simple option however you should be aware that water is also a problem in less obvious forms. The main things to avoid in areas where the water quality is suspect is the inclusion of ice drinks also salads that will also have been washed in water.
  • Beyond the hotel... Be wary of food hygiene beyond the walls of the hotel. The standards of hygiene can be far from healthy in places such as street vendors or when on excursions. Avoid eating in places where you cannot judge the conditions in which food is prepared.
  • DOWNLOAD THE PDF  pdf icon
+ Fire Safety
  • Take responsibility... Ensuring that you and your family have a safe holiday is your responsibility. The first step is to ensure that you plan for how you will all escape should a fire occur. Read the fire safety instructions in your room and make sure that in an emergency situation you can follow these. Do not take for granted that fire escapes, emergency exit routes and fire extinguishers are all in place, check that your planned escape route is viable and you can follow it even in the dark.
  • Let them know... Most hotels are incredibly helpful to those that have special requirements as long as they are aware of them. Make sure that if you are hard of hearing or that you may have some difficulty evacuating quickly that you ensure that the hotel staff are aware of this. Some hotels provide door signs for those that may require help in an emergency, however if in doubt make your own.
  • Take it seriously... Smoke alarms do save lives and it is important that you take alarms seriously. False alarms are annoying but it is always better to be safe and get out no matter what you think may be happening. Also be aware of how seriously the hotel takes fire safety, different countries have a variety of standards but looking out for smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers will give you an idea of how fire safety is managed.
  • Check the equipment... Your hotel room will most probably contain a number of pieces of electrical or other equipment that if poorly maintained or misused could present a risk of fire. Self-catering apartments have particular risks with regard to gas safety or cooking equipment. In all cases check out your room prior to unpacking, make sure that everything looks to be in good working order and if not give the hotel an opportunity to remedy the situation.
  • Light the way... A really useful travel item is the trusty torch. If you are unfortunate to be in a hotel that has a fire one of the biggest problems is visibility. Smoke and darkness can hinder your escape and if emergency lighting is not available or has failed you can use a torch to light your way to safety.
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+ Accommodation Safety
  • Check before you unpack... Do not go through the hassle of unpacking your suitcase until you know that the room is safe. Hotel rooms see a lot of use and over time things can start to show signs of wear and tear. In some cases this can be a simple matter of requesting a replacement item but sometimes it may require a change of room whilst work is being carried out to repair potentially dangerous problems. Check that the appliances in the room look well maintained, ensure that bathrooms are free of problems such as cracked tiles or broken fixtures.
  • Look around... Particularly if you have children take the time to look around the hotel and be aware of any risks that could be addressed. It is far easier to point these things out to hotel management prior to any accident occurring. Make sure you ensure your children are supervised appropriately, especially where you have identified a risk that they could be exposed to.
  • Avoid a fall... Balconies can be dangerous, particularly for children, if it is possible for them to climb up on or lean over the balcony. Make sure that they are unable to do so by repositioning items of furniture etc. that can be used to climb up on. Adults should be equally wary of sitting on or leaning over balconies so as to prevent a fall. Another source of problems related to balconies is the glass door or partition that links them to the room, where bright sunlight can make it very difficult to determine whether a door is open or closed.
  • Safe and secure... Check that you and your belongings are safe in your hotel. Ensure that doors lock securely and that there is evidence that the hotel takes security seriously. Do not forget that security when outside the hotel is just as important and that taking precautions such as letting people know where you are going and not carrying obvious or excessive valuables when out and about.
  • Follow the instructions... More and more hotels offer facilities such as fitness / leisure equipment that can if used incorrectly or if not properly maintained cause serious injuries. Make sure that when using such equipment you have read the operating instructions and have inspected them for evidence of damage or lack of maintenance.
  • DOWNLOAD THE PDF  pdf icon
+ Pool Safety
  • Don't just dive in... Swimming pools come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of features that either aid enjoyment or quite possibly increase your chance of incident. Take some time to look around the pool area, look for things like underwater features which may look great but could be dangerous if dived onto or trapped against. Also look for depth markings and warning signs as even the simplest pool may have changes in depth that are surprising and dangerous if you are unaware.
  • Look around... Look for signs that the pool is well maintained and free of broken fixtures and fittings. The pool area should be clean and surfaces around the pool should not be obstructed or too slippery so that moving around is dangerous.
  • Children's pools... When ensuring that your children are safe to swim do not assume that a dedicated children's pool is safe. Make sure that you can supervise them easily and that should they get out of the children's pool it is not possible for them to get into deeper pool area.
  • Avoid overcrowding... Swimming pools are designed with a certain number of patrons in mind. If this number is exceeded it becomes difficult to safely control the pool as an individual in distress or drowning would be much harder to spot when obscured by so many others. Another aspect of overcrowding is the fact the area surrounding the pool may become too full to navigate safely without the risk of falling in.
  • What is in the water... Swimming pool water should be clean, clear and not murky or smelly. If the water clarity / quality is poor then it is evidence that the water disinfection regime is not working effectively. Avoid waterborne illnesses by staying out of water if you see these characteristics.
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+ Crisis Safety
  • Know before you go... Check a reliable source to determine exactly when the hurricane season starts and ends for a chosen destination, not forgetting that weather is unpredictable and out of season hurricanes do happen. Where possible you may want to avoid this period.
  • Keep an eye on the sky... If you are on holiday in a hurricane prone area make sure that you regularly check local weather reports or ask at the concierge / hotel management for an update on the weather situation.
  • Don't get left behind... Where a hurricane is predicted that will hit with sufficient force to cause structural damage or loss of life it is quite likely that evacuations may be ordered by the local authorities. This can happen as far away as 72 hours before the hurricanes hits so ensure that the hotel management knows where you are and how to connect you should this be necessary.
  • Stay safe... Your hotel should be structurally sound and in most cases offer sufficient protection in the brunt of a hurricane. However it is always advisable to ask the hotel management whether it is designed to withstand the forces generated by the hurricane. Going outside during a hurricane is not advised as high winds and flooding can be a serious hazard. When inside your hotel avoid the weak points such as exposed glazing or low lying areas prone to flooding.
  • Avoid the aftermath... When travelling to an area recovering from a hurricane it is advisable to check what the situation is prior to travelling. Make sure that you can get to the hotel safely and that they are ready for guests.
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+ Villa Safety
  • Check it out - When you arrive at your holiday home, take the time to walk around and evaluate the property. If you have small children or elderly relatives, look for accidents waiting to happen. For example, are there steep or uneven steps? Holes or pits in the garden or immediately surrounding the property? Is there a large panel of clear glass that children could run into?
  • Fire, what fire? - Fires are a major threat to properties and claim many lives because they remain undetected until it's too late. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to check that the property has smoke detectors in prominent locations and test that they are working correctly. If they are either not present or not working correctly, be extra vigilant and report the problem at the earliest opportunity.
  • Which way is out? - Should a fire occur in your own house it is highly likely that you would know exactly what route to take by instinct. In your holiday home, this will not be the case. In the confusion of a smoke-filled and unfamiliar environment it is possible that valuable time could be wasted taking the wrong route to escape the building. Take a few minutes to evaluate the quickest and safest route out of the building, avoiding areas with a lot of electrical equipment.
  • Sparks flying - One of the main causes of fire is faulty or poorly maintained electrical equipment. To avoid this threat, check the condition of all electrical appliances and resist the urge to overload plug sockets and adapters. Do not try to fix faulty equipment yourself as this could lead to electrocution. Instead, report your concerns to the owner or manager of the property.
  • Cleanliness is close to godliness - Holiday homes will typically be cleaned before your arrival. However, it is advisable to check that this has been done properly. Areas for food preparation should be given extra priority. Give the kitchen an extra scrub before you use it, as you do not know how long ago it was previously cleaned.
  • Carbon Monoxide, the silent killer - Where a property has gas for heating or cooking it is important to be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure that these areas are well ventilated and, if you have any doubts about the standard of maintenance of the equipment, do not use it without confirming its safety with the owner or property management. Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include: tiredness, drowsiness, headaches, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, pains in the chest, breathlessness, stomach pains, erratic behaviour and visual problems.
  • Making a splash - Having a swimming pool is a great way to cool down in the sun. However, in some cases it can pose an unacceptable level of risk to children. Tragically, a number of deaths occur each year when children fall into swimming pools without being noticed. Ideally, all swimming pools should have barriers or alarms to stop children entering unsupervised. If this is not the case and the pool is exposed, ensure that children are supervised at all times in this area.
  • Admire views safely - You may be lucky enough to have a balcony at your holiday home to admire the views. However, attention must be given to balconies before young children are allowed onto them. Inspect the balcony for furniture that may be easily climbed on by children allowing them to lean over the balcony edge. Push furniture away from the railings and ensure that children are supervised at all times when on the balcony.
  • Locking up - The safety of your belongings is important. When leaving the property check that all windows and doors are locked securely. Any security problems should be identified early on and reported to the property owner to enable them to rectify the problem as soon as possible.
  • Car trouble - Holidaymakers staying in rented accommodation are more likely to hire a car than those staying in hotels. When hiring a car, it is essential that you check the oil, water and tyre pressure is all correct in then vehicle before setting off on a journey. If you identify any problems with the vehicle, report it at once to the car rental company.
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