By Editor on 29 May 2015

Holidays are a time for rest and relaxation, but would you know what to do if something went wrong?

Here are five key pieces of advice that you should know before you leave for your summer holidays; make sure that you're familiar with them. They could end up saving a life.

1. Know how to call an ambulance

Countries have different emergency services systems and numbers. Do your research before you go and ensure every member of your party knows the emergency number, and whether it is a country that has ambulances.

In Europe, 112 is the universal emergency number and this will eventually become the worldwide emergency number – until then, use Google before you set off.

2. The best way to treat sunburn

The key advice here is not to get burned in the first place; avoid the midday sun, use sunscreen and cover up. Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated.

However, if the worst happens, you can alleviate your symptoms. Have a tepid shower (don't use soap - it will just aggravate your sensitive skin) and liberally apply neat aloe vera.

You can also use witch hazel; moisten a cloth with witch hazel and a small water, and apply to the affected area. This household astringent has been shown to have long-lasting anti-inflammatory relief. Apply often for best results, and stay out of the sun while you're healing.

Click here to find out more about treating heat exhaustion.

3. What to do if you are stung by a jelly fish or an insect

Most jellyfish stings are mild and don't require treatment, or you can treat them yourself. However, call the emergency services if the person stung displays severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or if a large or sensitive area of the body such as the face or genitals has been stung.

If a member of your party has been stung, take them out of the water and keep them still, as moving will enable the toxins in their system to move around the body.

Tentacles can be removed using tweezers or a clean stick; applying an ice pack can help with the pain. Don't use vinegar, alcohol or baking soda to treat the sting - if you can find it, apply shaving cream - it'll help prevent the spread of toxins. Use a razor blade, credit card or shell to remove any small poisonous sacs that are stuck to the skin. More advice can be found here.

4. Food poisoning and dehydration

Sometimes just a change in climate or food can initiate a case of Delhi belly! Try not to rush for the Immodium unless you really need to as it is generally much better to 'let it all out' and continue to replace fluids by continuously drinking sips of fresh water.

If symptoms get worse, continue for more than a few days or you start to see blood or mucus, seek medical advice. Keep out of the sun and keep drinking water.

5. How to look after someone who is so drunk they lose consciousness:

If someone has drunk too much and loses consciousness, your priority is ensuring that their airway is protected. Not only will their tongue flop to the back of their throat if they are left on their back, but they will have a stomach full of alcohol and are extremely likely to vomit. It is of vital importance that they are placed in the recovery position, and monitored carefully.

Please watch this video which shows how to put someone into the recovery position - and why it saves lives.

Call the emergency services if you're seriously worried.

If the person has not yet lost consciousness, it is important to ensure that they remain safe as they are likely to be confused and may well wander into dangerous situations.

If they have taken drugs as well, monitor them very closely. Do not try and make anyone sick as this can make things worse.

First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

Written by Emma Hammett from First Aid for Life.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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