Ev­ery des­ti­na­tion and ev­ery surf break has its own set of haz­ards, some pretty in­nocu­ous, some po­ten­tially se­ri­ous. Here are a few tips to stay safe and healthy when you’re away from home.

Surf Girl - - Indian Summer Travel Guide -


One thing eas­ily for­got­ten (at your peril!) when go­ing abroad is travel in­surance. Make sure that you or­gan­ise this well be­fore you go, and con­firm – in writ­ing if nec­es­sary – that the pol­icy cov­ers you for surf­ing. Also check it cov­ers travel de­lays, can­cel­la­tions, cur­tail­ments, le­gal ex­penses, le­gal sup­port, per­sonal li­a­bil­ity and the fi­nan­cial backup of missed and can­celled de­par­tures.

Re­search com­pa­nies that have good rep­u­ta­tions, and if you need to make a claim keep the re­ceipts of ev­ery­thing you needed to buy (es­pe­cially medicines or other med­i­cal sup­plies). Get the re­ceipts signed by a doc­tor or other of­fi­cial per­son if pos­si­ble, keep them safe.


Ar­range to have vac­ci­na­tions at least six weeks be­fore you leave, as they may need time to be­come ef­fec­tive. Your doc­tor will tell you which jabs are needed for your des­ti­na­tion.

Dis­eases such as malaria and dengue fever can be con­tracted via mosquito (and other in­sect) bites, and th­ese can be­come life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses if left un­treated. Some species of mosquito have built up a nat­u­ral im­mu­nity to DEET prod­ucts, so al­ter­na­tive re­pel­lents such as Incog­nito (which uses pow­er­ful, nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents such as cit­ronella and berg­amot oil) are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar.

Use the fol­low­ing tips to avoid be­ing bit­ten in the first place:

• Al­ways sleep under a mosquito net at night; get one with as fine a mesh as pos­si­ble.

• Wear long, light-coloured cloth­ing (mozzies are at­tracted to darker cloth­ing).

• Avoid hang­ing around near bod­ies of still wa­ter, es­pe­cially in the evening.

• Wash thor­oughly and be as odour-free as pos­si­ble.

• Olive oil works as a good al­ter­na­tive if you run out of mozzie spray.

The chances of catch­ing trop­i­cal dis­eases and ail­ments can be greatly re­duced by prac­tic­ing good hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion. Only drink bot­tled or boiled wa­ter, or use wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion tablets. Only con­sume food that you’re cer­tain is safe to eat – if in doubt, stick to the old adage, ‘Boil it, cook it, peel it, or for­get it’. And keep your food prep ar­eas, wa­ter sup­ply, cloth­ing, sheets and liv­ing ar­eas clean.


Noth­ing sucks more than ar­riv­ing at your dream des­ti­na­tion, pad­dling out for a long ses­sion, get­ting the most in­tense sun­burn you’ve ever had, then spend­ing the next week

sit­ting in the shade. Fol­low th­ese tips to pro­tect your skin and max­imise your time in the waves:

• Surf early and late to avoid the hottest part of the day, from 11am to 3pm. Many places are af­fected by on­shore sea breezes dur­ing this pe­riod any­way, so you prob­a­bly won’t be miss­ing much.

• Be aware that you still need to use sun­cream on cloudy days. Thin clouds do noth­ing but scat­ter the sun’s UV light and you can still burn eas­ily.

• Bring a de­cent pair of sun­glasses and a hat. Bring longsleeved shirts and light­weight trousers if you ex­pect to be ex­posed to the sun for a pro­longed pe­riod.

• Beware of sun­creams that claim to be wa­ter­proof and aren’t – stick to es­tab­lished brands if you’re un­sure. If you’re fair-skinned go for the max­i­mum pro­tec­tion fac­tor, and con­sider putting sun­block / zinc cream on top to make sure you’re fully cov­ered.

• Think about the ar­eas of your body that get ex­posed. It’s not just your face, neck and arms that get blasted by the rays on a sunny day in the waves, you should also ap­ply sun­cream to your lower back, your legs (es­pe­cially the calves), feet, ears and hands.

• Re-ap­ply sun­cream af­ter a ses­sion to re­plen­ish any that was washed or rubbed off while you were in the wa­ter.

• If you do get burned, ap­ply aloe vera onto the ar­eas which are most af­fected. Wear loose-fit­ting cloth­ing over the red­ness, take cool show­ers, and use a cool damp cloth moist­ened with cold wa­ter and skimmed milk (in a 4:1 ra­tio) to soothe the burn.


Sunstroke – or heat­stroke as it’s also known – is a se­ri­ous con­di­tion you can face when deal­ing with ex­treme or pro­longed heat. It hap­pens when your body strug­gles to reg­u­late its tem­per­a­ture at nor­mal lev­els, leav­ing your ma­jor or­gans at risk. If you feel weak dur­ing or af­ter a surf, re­plen­ish lost flu­ids straight away. Fail­ure to do this can lead to heat ex­haus­tion, which in turn can re­sult in heat­stroke.

Sunstroke is de­fined by a body tem­per­a­ture in ex­cess of 40ºC (104ºF). Re­duc­ing your core tem­per­a­ture is critical in this sit­u­a­tion. This can be done by re­mov­ing cloth­ing, im­mers­ing your­self in cool wa­ter, us­ing ice packs, drink­ing lots of wa­ter, and find­ing the shade and ven­ti­la­tion nec­es­sary to drop your body tem­per­a­ture back down to nor­mal.


In trop­i­cal coun­tries, it’s vi­tally im­por­tant that you treat cuts care­fully since there’s a higher risk of in­fec­tion (bac­te­ria love warm en­vi­ron­ments).

• Clean the wound thor­oughly us­ing plenty of fresh clean wa­ter, and care­fully pick out any pieces of dirt or coral us­ing tweez­ers. Dry the wound with a ster­ile pad and ap­ply an­ti­sep­tic liq­uid or oint­ment such as Bac­i­tracin.

• Dress the wound with gauze and keep it clean.

• Change the dress­ing at least ev­ery three days.

• Yel­low pus, sore­ness or red­ness in­di­cate that the wound is in­fected. Clean it out again and ap­ply an­ti­sep­tic. If the in­fec­tion per­sists, go to a doc­tor or hospi­tal. This is an ex­cerpt from Surf Travel: The Com­plete Guide, avail­able from the SurfGirl Beach Bou­tique.

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