Travel Nursing Standard Counselling Points
Food and Water Precautions
- Eat only food that has been thoroughly cooked and is still hot when served.
- Drink only purified water that has been boiled or disinfected with chlorine or iodine, or commercially bottled water in sealed containers.
- Drinking carbonated drinks without ice, including beer, is usually safe.
- Avoid ice, unless it has been made with purified water.
- Avoid unpasteurized dairy/milk products and ice cream.
- Avoid uncooked foods - especially shellfish - and salads. Fruit and vegetables that can be peeled are usually safe.
- Avoid food from street vendors.
When to wash your hands:
- When hands are visibly dirty or soiled.
- After using the washroom (includes changing diapers).
- After blowing your nose or after sneezing in your hands.
- Before and after eating, handling food, drinking or smoking.
- After touching raw meat, poultry, or fish.
- After handling garbage.
- Before and after visiting or caring for sick people.
- After handling pets, animals or animal waste.
- After touching commonly used public surfaces or shared items.
- After returning home from work, school or outdoor activities.
For effective hand washing, follow these steps:
- Remove any rings or other jewellery,
- Use warm water and wet your hands thoroughly,
- Use soap (1-3 mL) and lather very well,
- Scrub your hands thoroughly, including between your fingers, up to and including your wrists with soap for 10 to 20 seconds Don't forget to scrub under your nails,
- Rinse thoroughly,
- Turn off the taps/faucets with a paper towel,
- Dry your hands with a single use towel or air dryer,
- Protect your hands from touching dirty surfaces as you leave the bathroom. (use the paper towel to open the door and discard it afterwards).
If unable to access water and soap, alcohol hand sanitizer can be used as long as hands are not visible dirty. Apply a dime-sized amount into your palm. Rub thoroughly covering hands completely until dry. Moist towelettes/hand wipes can be used in conjunction with sanitizer. This combination is better then hand sanitizer alone.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors during these active times
- Apply insect repellent to any exposed skin, sparingly
- Concentration of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) should be no greater than 30% for adults and no greater than 10% for children. Carefully read and follow manufacturer's directions for use
- Current labels on DEET-containing repellents state that they should not be applied to children under 2 years of age. Health Canada, however, recommends for children aged 6 months to 2 years: “Up to 10% concentration may be used, applied no more than once daily. One application of 10% DEET offers three hours of protection against mosquitoes.” Up to 10% concentration may be applied up to three times daily for children aged two to 12. More information on insect repellents can be found here.
- Do not apply repellent to children's hands, or near any areas of mucous membrane such as the eyes or mouth
- Consider spraying clothing with repellents containing permethrin, as mosquitoes easily bite through thin clothing such as cotton t-shirts
- Consider staying indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active. If you need to be outdoors during this period, cover up and use insect repellent for extra protection
Personal Health and Safety
Information about safety and security considerations during travel is provided by the Government of Canada website: www.travel.gc.ca
- Choose a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours.
- Cover up your skin with loose fitting, tightly woven, light weight clothing.
- Wear a wide brim hat that covers your head, face, ears and neck
- Wear sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection.
- Seek shade during 11 am - 4 pm
- Fluid is required every 20 - 30 minutes of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks. Water, fruit juices and sports drinks are the best.
Emergency Medical Preparedness
Canadians who plan to travel outside Canada - even on a day trip to the United States - should buy the supplemental medical insurance. Canadian provincial and territorial medical insurance rarely covers the full cost and does not pay upfront. If you seek treatment out-of-country without prior approval from your provincial or territorial health insurance plan, you may be required to pay the full cost of the services received.
Travelling with Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medication & Syringes
- Pack an extra supply of your medication in case you are away for longer than expected.
- Carry a copy of the original prescription, and ensure that both the generic and trade names of the drug are included in case your medication is lost or stolen. A doctor's note describing why you are taking the medication is also recommended.
- If you are taking a less common medication, check to ensure that it is legal and readily available in the country you intend to visit.
- If you require syringes for a medical condition such as diabetes, carry a supply to last your entire trip, as well as a medical certificate that states that they are for medical use. – Advise the airline you are carrying syringes for medical purposes
- Leave all medicine in its original, labelled container
How Can Canadian Officials Help, Abroad?
In the event of medical emergency, Canadian officials at the nearest Canadian government office abroad can provide the following services:
- Provide names of medical personnel and medical facilities. Note: some Canadian embassy and consulate Web sites also provide lists of suggested medical providers.
- Visit in-patients and provide translation services if required.
- Provide reports to family members back home.
- Assist in arranging for medical evacuation to Canada or to a third country if that is considered medically necessary.
- Help with medical insurance issues.
- Assist in obtaining financial help from family and friends if required.
- Make alternative travel arrangements, including obtaining visas and other necessary travel documents.
Travellers who are visiting a high-endemic area and who have one of the following risks should be tested after three months following their return to Canada:
- A medical condition that increase the risk of active disease following infection
- Prolonged travel (greater than 1 month)
- Intention to work in healthcare, refugee care or other high-risk settings
Sun Safety. Brockville: Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit, 2007.