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Preventing Accident, Injuries & Violence


Travellers are more likely to be killed or injured in accidents or through violence than to be struck down by an exotic infectious disease. Traffic accidents are the most frequent cause of death among travellers. Worldwide an estimated 1.2 million people are killed each year in road crashes and as many as 50 millions are injured. Deaths mainly due traffic accidents and violence are significant risks in many countries, particularly developing countries where skilled medical care may not be readily available.

Recreational waters include coastal waters, freshwater lakes and rivers, swimming pools and spas. The hazards associated with recreational waters can be minimized by safe behavior and simple precautions.

The most important health hazards in recreational waters are drowning and impact injuries, particularly head and spinal injuries. Estimated at least half a million deaths are caused by drowning every year. Drowning may occur when a person is caught in a tide or rip current, trapped by rising tides, falls overboard from a boat, becomes caught in submerged obstacles, or falls asleep on an inflatable mattress and is carried out to sea, drowning in swimming pools may be related to slip-trip-fall accidents, falling in cold water, drowning and impact injuries associated with alcohol consumption, detached retina due to jumping into water or onto other people in the water.

The tourist on holiday or away from home is relaxed, and in an uninhibited environment away from social restrictions that they might live by at home – being off guard means a higher risk of having an accident!

Travellers are encouraged to have a full insurance cover for medical treatment of both illness and injuries sustained in accidents. Also, they have to carry an international driving licence as well as your national driving licence

Precautions to reduce risk of traffic accidents

  • Obtain information on the regulations governing traffic and vehicle maintenance, and on the state of the roads, in the countries to be visited.
  • Before renting a car check the state of the tyres, safety belts, spare wheels, lights, brakes etc.
  • Know the informal rules of the road e.g. to sound the horn or flash the headlights before overtaking
  • Beware of the risks on roads – driving ‘on the other side’, new signs, unfamiliar winding roads, badly maintained roads and different standards in car and moped safety.
  • Do not drive on unfamiliar and unlit roads
  • Do not use a moped, motorcycle or bicycle
  • Do not drive after drinking alcohol
  • Drive within the speed limit at all times
  • Always wear a safety belt where these are available and helmet

Precautions to reduce risk of accident/injuries in recreational waters

  • Adopt safe behavior in all recreational waters: use life jackets where appropriate, pay attention to tides and currents, and avoid outlets in spas and swimming pools.
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol before any activity in or near water. NEVER DRINK AND SWIM
  • Check the depth of the water carefully before diving, and avoid diving or jumping into murky water as submerged swimmers or objects may not be visible
  • Do not jump into water or jump onto others in the water
  • Always swim with others, keep check on tides, currents and strong winds
  • Allow at least one hour after eating before swimming and never fall asleep on an airbed in the sea.

Precautions to reduce risk of violence

  • Be alert to muggings during the day as well as at night
  • Always look for emergency exits and check balconies and first aid arrangements on arriving at your chosen accommodation.
  • Keep jewellery, cameras, computers, phones and other items of value out of sight and do not carry large sums of money on your person
  • Avoid isolated beaches and other remote areas
  • Avoid overcrowded trains, buses and minibus taxis
  • Use taxis from authorized ranks only
  • Avoid driving at night and never travel alone
  • Keep car doors locked and windows shut
  • Be particularly alert when waiting at traffic lights
  • Park in well-lit areas and do not pick up strangers
  • Employ the services of a local guide/interpreter or local driver when traveling to remote areas
  • Vehicle hijacking is a recognized risk in a number of countries. If stopped by armed robbers, make no attempt to resist and keep hands where the attackers can see them at all times.
  • Beware of wandering animals.

References organisation/ support

International Travel & Health, WHO 2006


Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Norhayati Rusli
Reviewer : Wong Swee Fong