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Keeping healthy on holiday

Information sheets

Although France is a low-risk country compared to far-off destinations, there are a number of precautions to be taken in order to keep yourself healthy while on holiday.

Keeping healthy on holiday

Before leaving

  • Prepare a small first aid kit with basic medicines and accessories (paracetamol, antiseptic, plasters etc.) so you are ready in case of need. If you have any doubts, your doctor can advise you and prescribe the necessary products according to age, destination and planned activities.
  • Check that your vaccinations are up to date, and get boosters done if necessary.
  • Those suffering from heart problems must consult a specialist before leaving if they are going to a high-altitude or hot destination, or if physical activity is planned.

In the sun

  • Avoid exposure to the sun between 12pm and 4pm when the UV index is the strongest. Cooling breezes, refreshing swims and overcast weather can give a false feeling of safety. UV rays are always present, no matter what (for example, 90% of UV rays penetrate cloud cover).
  • Protect your skin with a sufficiently high factor sun cream and apply it frequently (every 2 hours and after swimming), in particular on sensitive zones and on body parts most exposed to UV: the nose, lower lip, ears, upper back, shoulders and chest.
  • Protect your eyes with well-covering sunglasses because UV rays can cause eye burn even without dazzling.
  • Wear a hat and t-shirt when walking in the sun.
  • Children are more vulnerable than adults in the sun. In particular, children of under 1 year should never stay in full sun and must remain covered, even in the shade.
  • In the mountains, altitude and snow very significantly increase the quantities of UV absorbed by the skin and eyes. You must therefore protect yourself even more.
  • Certain medicines, perfumes and deodorants can cause allergies and severe burns in the sun. Do not expose yourself if you have used them, or consult a doctor.
  • Keep water at hand and drink regularly to avoid dehydration. Remember to drink before you are thirsty.
  • Do not fall asleep in the sun.
  • Do not do intense exercise when it is too hot in order to avoid heatstroke (headache, muscle cramps and loss of consciousness).
  • In case of repeated sunburn, consult a dermatologist on your return.

In the swimming pool

  • Walk carefully and without running around the swimming pool to avoid falling on slippery ground.
  • Avoid going into the water head first, which could cause immersion hypothermia. The risks are even higher after prolonged exposure to the sun or after a meal. Instead, enter the water gradually.
  • Explain to children the risks associated with water and the rules to follow, in particular not being allowed to swim when no adults are present.
  • Put armbands on very young children.
  • Keep a pole and a mobile phone near the swimming pool.
  • When no longer by the swimming pool, remove all water toys that could attract children.


  • Plan your route and your departure time in order to return well before night.
  • Check weather conditions before leaving.
  • Take with you in your bag a small first aid kit, a mobile phone, sufficient water, protection against cold, wind and rain.
  • Walk at your own pace, and be careful near cliffs and on steep hillsides.
  • Remove relevant clothing as soon as you get hot and put it back on when you stop for a rest.
  • Avoid swimming in unknown water, in particular if the water is cloudy, has an unusual colour or smells bad.

Insects and animals

  • Mosquitoes, bees, wasps and harvest mites can give painful stings. Apply a repellent and dress appropriately (long sleeves and sufficiently thick fabrics over the sensitive zones). If you are stung and the sting is left in your skin, remove it with a pair of tweezers. Disinfect and relieve the pain with some cold water and an anti-inflammatory ointment.
  • Ticks are a vehicle for certain diseases that can be very serious. In risk areas (woods, tall grass, wet regions) between April and November, you are recommended to wear light-coloured clothes that cover the whole body and to use a DEET-based repellent. To remove a tick, do not use ether but a fine set of tweezers or special tick removers (available from chemists), taking care to remove the tick without leaving the head behind.
  • Vipers only attack to defend themselves if surprised or threatened. In risk areas, it is therefore recommended to wear high-soled shoes, walk noisily, avoid rocks warmed by the sun, and remain vigilant when picking fruit etc. In the case of a bite, wound suction is ineffective, while cutting with a knife and using a tourniquet are dangerous. It is better to calm the wounded person, lay them on their back, tightly bandage the bite up to the top of the member, and wait for medical help to arrive.
  • Geese can hit violently with their necks or nip, causing nasty bruises. It is therefore better to keep your distance when out walking.
  • Dogs and cats can bite or scratch if you stroke them without knowing them. Bites should be taken seriously because wounds can be deep and saliva can cause secondary infections. In addition, cat scratches can lead to tiredness and swollen glands a few days later. It is therefore wise to consult a doctor to treat the wound and prescribe an antibiotic in the case of a wound caused by a dog or a cat.
  • Fox bites can transmit rabies. Always keep your distance, even if they seem harmless.
  • Large wild animals only attack if they have been surprised, if they feel threatened, or if you approach their young. Hits, bites and scratches by animals can cause serious wounds. If you come across one unexpectedly, it is best to stop and keep still until the animal leaves.
  • In the sea, certain aquatic animals, such as sea-urchins, weevers and some ray species, can sting swimmers under their feet. Wearing sandals with good soles is therefore recommended. If you are stung, remove the sting or the spines if they are still in the skin, wash thoroughly with sea water, then consult a doctor.
  • Jellyfish and sea anemones can cause burns. If so, apply some vinegar or lemon juice on the lesions, and then an anaesthetic gel.
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