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Travel Health and Safety Tips

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By Cathy Lanigan, Lonely Planet

If Your Child Falls Ill

Children are at risk of the same diseases as you are when you are away. Because children can't always tell you what's wrong and in many cases don't show typical symptoms of diseases. It's even more important to seek medical help at the earliest opportunity. Always get medical help if you have any concerns about their condition.

Is my child unwell?

Children can quickly change from being well and active to becoming ill, sometimes seriously ill. In young children, especially, the signs can be quite subtle and difficult to interpret, which can be a worry.

As the parent, you will know your child best of all and any change in their behavior should be taken seriously - listen to your sixth sense. This is particularly true of young children.

Don't rely on a child's skin temperature as an indication of whether they have a raised temperature or not. Instead you should always carry and use a thermometer (preferably a digital one or a fever strip - less accurate but easier to use). It is important to have an actual reading of the thermometer. A child cold to touch may have a raging temperature. If you have any cause for concern, check the temperature and make sure your child is taking at least enough fluids to pass urine twice a day, even if they have gone off their food.


This is very common in children wherever they are and is always a cause for concern. In addition, a high temperature can sometimes cause a convulsion in babies and young children. If you think your child has a fever, for example if the child is flushed and irritable and obviously unwell:

  • Take your child's temperature and then take it again 30 minutes later as a check
  • Put your child to bed, removing most clothing (perhaps covering the child with a cotton sheet) and making them comfortable
  • Wipe your child's face and body with a sponge or cloth soaked in tepid (not cold) water or place in a tepid bath to help lower the temperature
  • Giving acetaminophen syrup or tablets every four to six hours will also help to lower the temperature
  • Prevent dehydration by giving small amounts of fluid often - make up oral rehydration salts with bottled water, or fruit juice diluted half and half with safe water.

Conditions like viral infections, colds, ear infections, urinary tract infections and diarrhea are common causes of fever. Take steps to lower the temperature and seek medical help urgently in the following situations:

  • If the temperature is over 104 degrees F. in any infant or child
  • If the fever shows no sign of improving after 24 hours. (Take your child's temperature regularly to show you if it's going up or down.)