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Bringing Your Children Into Your Next African Adventure? Here’s How To Keep Them Safe

There’s no substitute for experiencing the wonders of Africa firsthand with your family. From hiking the iconic Kilimanjaro to watching elephants quench their thirst along the Chobe River, an African adventure opens young minds to the world’s kaleidoscope of cultures and natural splendors.

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With some practical planning and precautions, you can ensure your children’s safety and create treasured memories amidst this remarkable continent’s rich heritage.

Pre-Trip Preparations: Vaccines and Packing Essentials

Before your African voyage, schedule a pre-travel consultation at a specialized clinic to ensure your family’s vaccinations are up to date. In addition to routine childhood immunizations, travelers to most African nations should receive the yellow fever vaccine and malaria prophylaxis. Don’t forget about other vaccine-preventable diseases in Africa like typhoid, cholera, and rabies.

Depending on your specific travel plans, you may need additional inoculations like the meningitis vaccine or polio booster. It’s wise to review World Health Organization and CDC recommendations well in advance.

Here’s a quick rundown of diseases to watch out for:

  • Yellow Fever: A viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, causing fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, and nausea. It can lead to jaundice and hemorrhagic fever.
  • Malaria: A life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, causing fever, chills, and flu-like illness that can progress to severe complications like organ failure.
  • Typhoid: A bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi, transmitted through contaminated food and water, leading to sustained high fevers and fatigue.
  • Cholera: An acute bacterial infection causing extreme diarrhea, vomiting, and rapid dehydration, spread through contaminated water sources.
  • Rabies: A fatal viral disease affecting the central nervous system of mammals, transmitted through bites from infected animals like dogs, bats, and other wildlife.
  • Meningitis: A potentially life-threatening inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord caused by various bacteria and viruses.
  • Polio: A highly contagious viral illness that can cause permanent paralysis of the limbs, primarily in children under 5 years old.

Packing the Perfect Travel Health Kit

Once vaccinations are handled, it’s time to assemble your personalized travel health kit. This portable arsenal should be stocked with anti-diarrheal medication, insect repellent, sunscreen, and other family essentials for minor illnesses and injuries on the road.Be sure to include rehydration salts, a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor, and a well-stocked first aid kit containing bandages, antiseptic, tweezers, and other supplies.

Don’t forget to pack plenty of moisture-wicking clothing in lightweight, breathable fabrics to keep everyone cool and comfortable during your outdoor adventures across Africa’s varied landscapes and climates. Quick-dry shirts, pants, undergarments, and socks will be your best friends when you’re hiking through the bush or exploring ancient ruins under the blazing sun. A couple of long-sleeved tops and a wide-brimmed hat offer added sun protection too.

With the right gear secured, you’ll be ready for anything your African escapades dish out.

Staying Healthy and Bug-Free

Whether you’re camping under the Kalahari’s diamond-studded skies or exploring the labyrinthine souks of Marrakech, food and water safety are paramount for avoiding nasty stomach bugs. Stick to bottled water, avoid raw fruits and veggies unless you can peel them yourself, and be wary of anything from street vendors, no matter how tempting the aroma.

Protecting against insect-borne diseases like malaria and Zika is also crucial:

  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent with at least 20% DEET to exposed skin.
  • Have the kids wear long sleeves and pants in lightweight fabrics during peak mosquito hours of dawn and dusk.
  • Pop a travel-sized permethrin spray into your pack to treat clothing for extra defense against bugs.
  • If you’re visiting a malaria zone, ensure your family adheres precisely to the prescribed malaria prophylaxis medication regimen. While there is now a malaria vaccine available, it is recommended in conjunction with other prevention methods, not as a standalone solution.

Getting the Kids Excited About Africa

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Before your trip, spark your children’s curiosity about the sights, sounds, and flavors awaiting in Africa:

  • Read books together about the continent’s wildlife, diversity of cultures, and majestic landscapes.
  • Screen family-friendly movies filmed in the regions you’ll visit to fuel their imagination about elephants roaming across the savannah or ancient desert cities carved from rose-hued stone.
  • Once you’re in-country, encourage the kids to try new foods like thick millet porridge, grilled meats in peanut sauces, or flaky samosas.
  • See if they can identify regional spices like cumin, cinnamon, or curry in each bite. Ask them about how the art, music, and dance they encounter differ from home.

Having the whole family lean into Africa’s unique offerings fosters open-mindedness and a lasting appreciation for our global neighbors.

Managing Potential Risks Responsibly

Let’s be honest: Africa’s untamed spaces, crowded cities, and developing infrastructure present a few more risks than the average vacation closer to home. But don’t let fear dampen your sense of adventure! With proper precautions and guidance from reputable local experts, you can navigate African destinations confidently.

Conclusion: Stay Safe And Enjoy The Trip!

From addressing health precautions to kindling cultural curiosity, a trip to Africa can be an unforgettable experience for your children. And while it should be a fun experience for everyone, health and safety should still remain a priority. With sensible preparations and an openness to eye-opening experiences, you’ll ensure lasting memories of awe-inspiring wildlife encounters, vibrant cultural immersion, and priceless family bonding under desert stars.

Embrace Africa’s magic responsibly!

Lyne Proulx
Lyne Proulxhttps://ottawamommyclub.ca/
Lyne Proulx is a Certified WEBB Bodywork Pet Practitioner, Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI), Certified Professional Wedding Consultant, and an Event Planner. She loves all things Disney and is an avid teaholic and chocoholic. She coordinated the Annual Infant Information Day/Early Years Expo for the City of Ottawa for 8 years. She was the Queen B of the BConnected Conference, Canada's Digital Influencer and social media Conference in Ottawa and Toronto. She was also the co-chair of the Navan for Kraft Hockeyville 2009-2011 committee that organized five community events within 6 months, and helped Navan reach the top 10 finalists in Canada. In April 2011, she received the City of Ottawa Mayor's City Builder Award.

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