Australia is a land of extremes and some caution is always advisable. The following is just some good information and principles to make sure your time in Australia is a better one. (Not meant to scare you half to death!)
• The information given here is only given with the best of intention and in all circumstances you should seek a professional opinion from a qualified person or persons.
• Always be prepared.
• Always stay hydrated and ensure you drink plenty of water. If you are travelling into the outback and make sure you have 15 -20 litres of water per person. You may travel some 500 to 1000 kms between watering points.
• Always carry matches. If you must make a fire ensure the fire does not get out of control and clear an area around your fire place.
• If you are travelling into the outback, always let someone know where you are and when you will make contact next.
• "DON'T LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE!" If you do break down, make your self as visable as possible. Preserve energy and water and wait.
• Keep a basic first aid kit with you while travelling and more comprehensive one if you decide to go into the remote areas and out-back
• There are many things that would like to have a little nibble on you such as mosquitoes and sand-fly's so carry some good repellent, particularly while near the beach or ocean. Some mosquito carry a number of diseases and you should try to minimise contact with them particularly at dawn and dusk when the Aedesaegypti mosquito are most active. They have distinguishable by their black and white strips (like football socks) on their long back legs.
• If you see a spider / snake or creature your not sure about, treat like it may cause you some harm and leave it alone. Most animals are more scared of you and are just trying to save themselves. Just back away and go around whatever you have encountered.
• If you do get bitten try to mobilize the area or limb with bandages and lay still, find medical help ASAP. Australian snake venom works through the lymphatic system and not the veins. DO NOT try to suck the venom out it will probably make you very sick.
• Do not clean the wound, as this will allow the doctors to identify the creature that has bitten you. Try to keep calm and remember there is antivenom for all snakes in Australia.
• Anything medical that you are not sure about always ask someone who should know. Doctor / chemist / nurse / First aider.
• Don't camp in dry creek and river beds. These flood very quickly and in some cases will come come down like a wall of water in extreme circumstances.
Box Jelly Fish
There are two types of stinger that can be life threatening and they include the "Box Jelly" and the "Irukandji". I do not profess to know all there is to know about jelly fish, however the irukandji is much smaller than the box jelly species, being only about 2.5cm with 4 trailing tentacles about 100cm long but EQUALLY deadly. The following is merely a guide. Please seek professional help if you believe you may have made physical contact with one of these.
The following is for the treatment of "Box Jelly" and not "Irukandji" If you know or suspect you have stung by Irukandji seek medical help as soon as possible.
Marine Stingers are very real danger here in the tropics and are generally found between the months of October and April. It is a good idea if you are spending a good deal of time in the water to carry white vinegar. This can be poured over an effected area to help relieve the problem, although medical help should be found as soon as possible. If there are lifeguards patrolling the beach inform them as soon as you can. They can administer first aid keep an eye on you, as well as organise medical help. Do not rub the affected area this will only spread the problem. For more information, check out this site
Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia. More than 430,000 Australians are treated a year for skin cancers. Of these, over 10,500 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed. Each year there are approximatly 1850 deaths from melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. The major cause of skin cancer is too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes in the summer sun so it is important to protect your skin from UV radiation.Avoid using solariums or sunbeds, which emit harmful levels of UV radiation up to five times as strong as the summer midday sun.
- Skin cancer is largely preventable.
- Be SunSmart.
- It is important to make sure you use sunscreen on rainy or overcast days. People tend to get more burnt on these days.
- Use a 30+ or 50+ sunscreen. A good "Zinc based sunscreen" tend to protect you better.
- Protect yourself against sun damage and skin cancer by using a combination of these five steps:
Slip on sun protective clothing:
Choose clothing that:
- Covers as much skin as possible eg. long sleeves and high necks/collars.
- Is made from close weave materials such as cotton, polyester/cotton and linen.
- If used for swimming, is it made from materials such as lycra, which stays sun protective when wet.
Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen:
Make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum and water-resistant. Sunscreen should not be used to increase the amount of time you spend in the sun and should always be used with other forms of protection. Apply sunscreen liberally to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours reguardless of the protection factor. Your sunsceen is removed every time you touch or wipe yourself and even when you perspire / sweat.
Slap on a hat:
A broad brimmed, legionnaire or bucket style hat provides good protection for the face, nose, neck and ears, which are common sites for skin cancers. Caps and visors do not provide adequate protection. Choose a hat made with closely woven fabric – if you can see through it, UV radiation will get through. Hats may not protect you from reflected UV radiation, so also wear sunglasses and sunscreen to increase your level of protection.
Make use of trees or built shade structures, or bring your own! Staying in the shade is an effective way to reduce sun exposure. Whatever you use for shade, make sure it casts a dark shadow and use other protection (such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen) to avoid reflected UV radiation from nearby surfaces.
Slide on some sunglasses:
Sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat worn together can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98 per cent. Choose close-fitting wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067. Sunglasses are as important for children as they are for adults.
Remember to take extra care between 10am and 3pm when UV radiation is most intense.
Look out for the SunSmart UV Alert which tells you the time period in which you need to be SunSmart – it appears on the weather page of most daily newspapers and on the Bureau of Meteorology website: www.bom.gov.au/weather/uv
Cancer Council Australia website www.cancer.org.au
Before you read this please understand! "WE DO NOT HAVE BED BUGS"
We are are simply trying to educate people about them and how to get rid of them should you find some in your bags.
Bed bugs are a real problem within backpackers and youth hostels throughout most parts of the world, in particular where it is warm, humid and there are plenty of people to eat. If you are being bitten at night and can't find what is causing the bites, you may have bedbugs. They will often bite in a straight line, often 3 or 4 bites. They leave you with a welt similar to that of a mosquito or sand fly which often has a white discolouring in the centre of the welt. I have seen people with hundreds of bites which can get infected if scratched. Some people even have allergic reactions to the bites. So, if you are unsure, see a doctor and let them know about bedbugs as often they will overlook this and think they are mosquito or Sandfly bites. I once had a girl at the Reef Lodge who came in from another hostel who had hundreds of bites all over her body as I have described, when she went to the managers of the hostel they said it was only Sandfly bites. On closer inspection of her bags there were many dozens of large bedbugs in her gear. We quickly moved her to a room with her friend who also had them and started to treat all of their gear as well as the room they were in...suffice to say, I didn't get to bed until well after midnight!
Bed bugs have no wings, are roughly oval in shape, about 4-5mm in length and the body is flattened. They are rust brown in colour, but change to a deeper red brown after they have fed on human blood. After they mate, each female lays up to 2 or 3 eggs a day. The eggs are layed on a rough surface and the eggs will hatch within 10 days, sometimes longer in cooler weather. Bed bugs usally only feed on humans at night, and find shelter during the day. This can be under mattresses, skirting boards, carpets, curtins, cracks / crevices in walls and in bed frames, or inside your bags.
If you do think you have bedbugs please inform us and we will try to help you as much as we can, also if you know any other way to deal with these little creatures please inform us at Reeflodge
(N.B. I do not take any responsibility should you try this, or any part of this method for the removal of bedbugs. Should you have any apprehensions you should contact a professional pest controller.)
- • Move out of the room you are in. (This room should be treated before anybody goes back into it. At Reef Lodge we close down our rooms for a minimum of 24 hrs and up to 48 hrs after treatment.)
- • Find some clothes you know have not been in contact with bedbugs. (If you are at the Reef Lodge we'll lend you a couple of sarongs to lounge around in.)
- • Wash all of your clothes in hot water. (if possible)
- • Dry your clothes in a dryer. 20 mins (the heat will kill the bedbugs including eggs)
- • If you can put your backpack and anything else in the dryer. 20 mins
- • Remove all your toiletries and personal hygiene stuff and give it a good search to make sure there are no bugs.
- All other things that can't be washed or dried, put into a garbage bag and spray with a pesticide suitable for bedbugs. Leave this in the bag overnight. (Remember this is a poison so take care and use as the manufacture recommends.)
- Another possible way of treating bedbugs is to put your gear into thick black plastic bags and leave them out in the sun. The temperature must get very hot in order to kill them, so this method will not work well in cooler climates or when it is overcast.
Although I take no responsibility for this method of treatment, I have had high success rate for treating bedbugs.
For a lot more information about these creatures you can visit the website at the University of Sydney Although this site states the problem of bedbugs is partly due to bad hygiene, I would argue this point strongly, as it is not always the case, particularly among the backpackers here in Australia. It is more to do with a lack of information and cover-ups by many hostels who won't deal with this problem head on and admit they may have bedbugs.