Your family health medical kit
Your family health medical kit

Whether you're driving up the coast for a beach holiday or heading overseas, it always makes sense to carry a medical kit.

How extensive your medical kit is depends on where you're going. If travelling overseas, you may not be able to find the same medicines, they could be called a different name or require a prescription to obtain them.

Also, it's worth doing some research beforehand on how easy it is to find medicines and if certain active ingredients are banned from being brought into the country. For example, possession of codeine is illegal in the United Arab Emirates so you cannot take it into the country.

Here is a very comprehensive checklist for your family medical kit:

  • Pain relief/fever medicine such as paracetamol or ibuprofen in adult and child strength. Consult a doctor before giving medicines to children under 12 months of age.
  • Antihistamine medication for bites, stings or allergies (but make sure you always use according to instructions and are aware of its side effects)
  • Motion sickness tablets (many are not recommended for children under the age of two).
  • Saline solution/spray for blocked noses
  • Antiseptic solution for cleaning wounds or bites
  • Antiseptic ointment to apply to a wound
  • Sticking plasters for blisters, grazes and small cuts
  • Wound dressings, e.g. a crepe bandage, gauze swabs and those small strips which hold wounds together
  • Safety pins, scissors and tweezers
  • Insect repellent containing DEET (particularly if you're travelling to malarial zones)
  • Sting relief solution
  • Soothing ointments for chafing and rashes
  • Calamine lotion for bites and heat rash
  • Ear drops that dry out the ear, particularly of your family plans to be swimming a lot
  • Diarrhoea medicine
  • Fluid and electrolyte replacement powder or tablets
  • Thermometer (forehead thermometers are recommended for travel as they don't break or run out of batteries)
  • Just-in-case medical equipment such as sterile syringes and needles

Prescription medicines

If you're on prescription medicines, make sure you pack enough for the trip. If you're going overseas keep them in their original containers with clear labels.

You should also take a letter from your doctor stating the names of the medicines, the dose and that they are for your personal use, plus a copy of your prescriptions, written using the generic name of the drug to avoid confusion with trade names in foreign countries.

Where to get more information

Check with your GP before you go away on holiday. They can make sure you have the right immunisations for where you're travelling and can advise on what medicines to take. Travel Doctor in Auckland is a travel and tropical medicine specialist, if you're based in the Auckland area.

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This article was written by Fiona Baker for Kidspot, New Zealand's best family health resource. Sources include NPS MedicineWise.

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