Belgium Map

ONCE IN WESTERN EUROPE

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

Heat exhaustion and dehydration: Heat exhaustion can lead to fatigue, headaches, and wooziness. Avoid it by drinking plenty of fluids, eating salty foods (e.g. crackers), and avoiding dehydrating beverages (that contain alcohol or caffeine). Continuous heat stress can eventually lead to heatstroke, characterized by fever, severe headache, and extreme confusion. Victims should be cooled off with wet towels and taken to a doctor. High altitude: Allow your body a couple of days to acclimate before exerting yourself above 8000 ft. Alcohol is more potent and UV rays are stronger at high elevations. Hypothermia and frostbite: A rapid drop in body temperature is the clearest sign of overexposure to cold. Victims may also shiver, feel exhausted, have poor coordination or slurred speech, hallucinate, or suffer amnesia. Do not let hypothermia victims fall asleep. To avoid hypothermia, keep dry, wear layers, and stay out of the wind. When the temperature is below freezing, watch out for frostbite. If skin turns white, waxy, and cold, do not rub the area. Drink warm beverages, get dry, and slowly warm the area with dry fabric or steady body contact until a doctor can be found.

INSECT-BORNE DISEASES

Many diseases are transmitted by insects mainly mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and lice especially when hiking and camping in wet or forested areas. Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn. Wear pants and long sleeves, tuck pants into socks, and sleep in a mosquito net. Use insect repellents such as DEET and spray gear and clothing with permethrin. Ticks can give you Lyme disease, which is marked by a two- inch bull’s-eye on the skin. If you find a tick attached to your skin, grasp it with twee zers as close to the skin as possible and apply slow, steady traction. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause problems in joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Anti biotics are effective if administered early. Ticks can also give you encephalitis, a viral infection. Symptoms can range from headaches and flu-like symptoms to swelling of the brain, but the risk of contracting the disease is relatively low.

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