Health Tips for Costa Rican Tourists

The fresh water hot tub at the La Carolina Lodge in Bijagua Costa Rica, ©Wha'ppen/Flickr

The fresh water hot tub at the La Carolina Lodge in Bijagua Costa Rica, ©Wha’ppen/Flickr

It’s a very happy moment when you can finally leave your work, problems and crowded city to spend a beautiful and peaceful holiday at your favorite destination. But you can’t be irresponsible neither choosing your destination of holiday and taking all the “must have” stuff with you.

Another important thing is to know all the health tips and emergency dials at the place you are visiting as a tourist. Some basic planning and precautions can help keep you healthy and happy while traveling.

Main Emergency Dials

Emergencies Dial 911 is free and no coin required at a pay phone for emergency assistance. The Red Cross Rescue unit can be reached directly at 128 throughout the country (221-5818 in San José). Tourism Care Medical Services has road and air paramedic and ambulance service throughout Costa Rica (286-1818). Listings for private physicians are under Médicos in the yellow pages. Non-Emergency Care Your first line of defense should be your own first aid kit. Second, you can turn to the local farmacia (pharmacy).

Costa Rican Ambulance, ©LeafLanguages/Flickr

Wash Your Hands!

Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways of preventing disease transmission whether you are traveling or not. Another health tip is to wash all the fruits and vegetables you are going to eat (especially ones you don’t peel). For your own health don’t eat food from stands or restaurants unless it’s as hot or cold as it should be, and don’t change your diet dramatically overnight.

Drinking Pure Water

Municipal water supplies in Costa Rica are excellent. One of the reasons so much land is protected in parks and reserves is that Ticos recognize the importance of their watersheds. Water purification standards are similar to those followed in North America and Europe. You don’t have to be afraid of drinking pure water because Costa Rican water is totally healthy.

The fresh water hot tub at the La Carolina Lodge in Bijagua Costa Rica, ©Wha'ppen/Flickr

The fresh water hot tub at the La Carolina Lodge in Bijagua Costa Rica, ©Wha’ppen/Flickr

Water from rivers and streams is not safe to drink without purification. As nearly anywhere in the world, free running water contains parasites and bacterial pathogens (including giardia). Downstream from San José and in the waters around Puntarenas pollution and contamination can be severe enough to make swimming unsafe in the rivers.

Take Out Insurance

Depending on your current health plan, a separate travel insurance policy might be a good idea. Costa Rica’s Social Security Institute offers medical and emergency dental coverage by the week. It is available by the week through Tico travel agents. Ask for the Instituto Nacional de Seguros travelers insurance.

Always Have First Aid Kit when Traveling

Everyone should carry a basic first aid kit when traveling. Hikers, backpackers, campers, surfers and others who are likely to find themselves away from medical care should carry more extensive supplies.

First Aid Kit, ©Long Zheng/Flickr

First Aid Kit, ©Long Zheng/Flickr

A first aid kits basics are pain relievers/fever reducers (Aspirin or Ibuprofen) having in mind pain never chooses the perfect timing. Band aids and tapes are also indispensable parts of you kit and it’s good to have insect repellent and sun screen to avoid sunburn.

You’ll just benefit if you have all of these items with you.

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