Being outside in the splendid nature of southern Africa means being at the mercy of Mother Nature. Sometimes, she can be a little harsh and leave us with a scratch, a bite or a bruise. These smaller bush injuries are relatively minor, but they can become a nuisance and even present a danger if not attended to. Here are a few tips to assist you.
One of the most common injuries is getting an acacia tree thorn in your foot. Sometimes these thorns are so long they penetrate right through even the thickest soled shoes. Extract the thorn and as soon as you can, wash with lots of clean water to clean the wound site and apply anti-bacterial cream and a plaster. If you get scratched by a thorn bush, then wash the scratch thoroughly and swab with Dettol or similar.
For a deeper cut apply pressure to the wound with a cloth or napkin to help stem the bleeding. Wash thoroughly and if necessary, apply butterfly sutures to hold the skin together. Apply antibacterial cream and a paraffin gauze swab, and cover with a plaster or bandage.
Sun Burn. Gently wash the sunburnt area with lukewarm water and mild soap. Apply ice wrapped in a towel to cool the burn – for at least 20 minutes (a cold, wet towel will suffice) to take the heat out of the burn. Apply Aloe Vera Gel and do not expose the burnt skin to more sunshine.
Minor burns. Run the burn under cold water and then apply ice wrapped in a face cloth or tea towel for at least 10 minutes. Take an aspirin to ease pain and apply Aloe Vera and/or a burn shield patch. If the skin starts to peel, get to a doctor as quickly as possible as this would indicate a deeper burn.
Bruising. Wrap ice in a towel and apply to bruised area to reduce swelling and speed healing.
Sprains. Keep weight off the sprained limb and apply ice wrapped up in a towel – keep on for 20 minutes four times a day, for three days. If a knee or ankle is sprained, keep elevated as much as possible. Wrap up in a compression bandage, but not so tight as to cut off circulation.
Food Poisoning. Drink lots of water, even if you bring it up again. Keep drinking! Do NOT try to stop diarrhoea as this is your body’s way of ridding itself of the poison you have ingested. Drink rehydration mix with electrolytes to help your body recover from dehydration. REST. Do not eat any dairy, spicy food or drink coffee or alcohol. If you think that your food poisoning came from mushrooms or seafood, get to a doctor.
Stings and bites. Prevention is always better than cure, so always use insect repellent to cover exposed skin. If you do get bitten or stung, and symptoms are severe, seek medical help.
- Tick Bite. Always check yourself carefully after being in the bush to see that here are no ticks on you, as tick-bite fever will have you feeling very poorly (severe headache and fever, enlarged lymph nodes). African Tick Bite Fever is not fatal and is treated with antibiotics.
- Bee Sting. Carefully scrape off the “stinger” being careful not to squeeze the venom sack. Wash area and apply ice immediately. Chew an antihistamine tablet and if you are allergic, always carry an Epipen and administer this as quickly as possible. Baking soda mixed with water to a paste will help soothe the sting area.
- Wasp Sting. A wasp does not leave its sting behind, so wash the sting site with vinegar to help soothe the area. Chew two antihistamine tablets if you start to get an allergic reaction.
- Snake Bite – immediately call for help
- Don’t try to kill the snake
- Try to remember what the snake looked like
- STAY CALM
- STAY STANDING
- STAY STILL
- Let the bite site bleed
- If bitten on your hand – keep your hand hanging down
- Do not wash the wound
- Do not cut the bite site or suck out the venom
- Do not administer anti-venom without expert help
- Do not use ice on the bite site
- Apply a compression bandage over the bite site and cover the entire limb (but do not tighten so badly that all circulation is cut off)
- GET TO A HOSPITAL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
We have compiled a list of “should haves” for a FIRST AID KIT that you can print off and use as a guideline to travel with.
Now, having listed all these safety first tips, don’t let anything stop you from venturing out to enjoy the wonders of the African bush.
It will most probably be a case, like if you take a raincoat it never rains, or forget to pack a jersey it will be sure to turn cold, that if you are prepared, you won’t need you first aid kit at all.
So check our accommodation page and choose where you’d like to stay when you come to Swaziland for Royal Jozini’s wonderful vistas, pristine bush and tiger fishing charters!