Last Sunday I bumped into a good friend whilst walking my dog along the Braamfontein Spruit , he had his two dogs with him so we stayed together and walked for around an hour or so. He had just been to the Doctor to get the jabs necessary for travelling into Africa as he was heading to the DRC, at the same time the Doctor sat him down and warned him about the dangers of drinking contaminated water, diarrhea and dehydration being one of the consequences as well as a few other even worse maladies.
We have often spoken about going into the bush and carrying enough water for the group to survive at least a week. Yet when passing through cities or stopping for a few days one tends to forget the rules and make mistakes.
Water treatment methods vary from the tried and tested method of boiling water, adding a chemical such as chlorine bleach to even filtering and purifying – a variety of hi-tech filters are available for Camping and Hiking shops and even some of the larger chains of chemists.
However not making the mistake and avoiding the onset of a travellers tummy is key- avoidance is important, prevention is better than cure! So what does one do?
- Only drink bottled water and insist on opening the bottle yourself!
- Do not accept a bottle that has been opened.
- Do not re-use plastic bottles.
- Travel with your own water containers-double walled stainless steel bottles are easy to clean and keep water cold. Avoid glass bottles as they can break.
- Brush your teeth with bottled water as well, only use the jug provided in the room to splash your face, as this is more than likely tap water that could be contaminated.
- Avoid, syrups, cordials or fruit juices as water may have been added and they could be contaminated.
- Be careful of salads and fruits, they may have been washed with ordinary water.
- Wash your hands after shaking hands with anyone (keep disinfectant wipes in the car and on your person).
- Skip the ice in your drink as it was more than likely made from tap water and the freezing does not kill all bacteria.
Hopefully with a bit of caution you and your group will enjoy yourselves and escape any mishaps- however do not forget to consult your medical practitioner when packing your first aid kit to ensure that you have suitable meds for both adults and children in the event of a mishap!