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Summer’s potentially fatal attractions - water and sun - 14/07/2008

For many, water and sun are what summer is all about - it can be easy to forget the dangers.

Every year in the EU, there are around 200 000 swimming pool accidents and a quarter as many injuries related to boating, snorkelling and other water sports. Among children, drowning is the second highest cause of death.

But most water accidents can be prevented with a few basic safety measures. The European Child Safety Alliance and the EU have issued new guidelines for hotels, tour operators and leisure businesses with tourists in mind. Businesses are recommended to:

  • check water areas and activities for risks, especially to children
  • provide floatation aids and other equipment – and make sure they are the right sizes
  • have well-trained staff and an emergency plan in place.


European health cards mean peace of mind

If you are holidaying in another part of the EU this summer, make sure you take your European health insurance card with you. About 173 million people now have one – 36% of the EU population. The card – introduced four years ago – covers emergency health care in 31 European countries – the EU plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Nearly everyone covered by public healthcare in one of those countries is entitled to a card. The card is free. Ask your healthcare provider how to apply. A word of caution: the card is only for public, not private, healthcare.

Be sun-smart

Avoiding exposure to the sun is a tall order in the summer. When choosing a sunscreen, read the label and check you are getting the protection you need.

Choose products that offer protection against UVA and UVB sunlight, the two types known to be harmful. Bear in mind that sunscreen products, even “sunblocks”, cannot deliver total or unlimited protection. And - applied correctly - factor 15-25 may be just as effective as factor 50 or higher.

Most sunscreen products sold in the EU now have new, easy-to-understand labels, in line with commission recommendations.

But don’t rely just on sunscreens. Avoid peak hours, cover up as much as possible and keep babies and young children away from direct exposure.

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