The Olympic Games begin in less than two weeks. If you’re among the lucky ducks who get to go see them in person, you still have time to pack, find your passport, arrange your international roaming cell-phone service and exchange some dollars for pounds.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a few other items to add to that list. The agency has posted on its Web site some health tips for folks who plan to travel to London for the games.
The CDC’s London Olympics Web page features a handy chart that supplies the British versions of common health-related terms. For instance, instead of saying “My back hurts,” while in London one should say, “My back is giving me gip.” Instead of asking where the nearest doctor’s office is, ask for the nearest “surgery.” And should someone offer you “surgical spirits,” it’s really just rubbing alcohol.
Here are the CDC’s top tips for Olympics-bound travelers:
Be up-to-date on your jabs: Some illnesses that are very rare in the United States, such as measles, may be common in other countries. Make sure that you and any children traveling with you have had all your shots. Even if you had all routine vaccines as a child, ask your doctor whether you need a tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster.
Watch out for that lorry!: In the United States, you’re taught to look left, look right, and look left again before you cross the road. In England, however, they drive on the left side of the road. That means you should always look right, then left, then right again to avoid stepping into the path of traffic driving on the left. (According to the CDC, road traffic is by far the leading injury-related cause of death for Americans traveling in foreign countries.)
Get thee to an A&E: If you get hit by a lorry, don’t call 911, call 999, and don’t ask to be taken to the ER, ask for the A&E (Accident and Emergency). Only call 999 in the event of a serious illness or injury. For cuts and scrapes, muscle strains or minor illnesses, visit a pharmacy or walk-in center (no appointment needed). To find a pharmacy or walk-in center, visit www.nhs.uk/London2012 or call 0845-4647. Note that the health insurance that covers you in the United States probably won’t cover you while you’re overseas, so you may have to pay out-of-pocket for any care you receive in London. Consider purchasing travel health insurance that will reimburse you for any costs you incur.
Are you going to the Olympics? What, if any, health precautions are you taking?