Wednesday, May 28, 2014

First Aid Kits Around the World: Uruguay

I have always had a keen fondness for preparedness items.  It was a little hard to put all of our preparedness stuff in storage for our travels, because if we're in any kind of emergency, ironically we will likely be under-prepared, despite all of our efforts to be prepared.  I thought long and hard about bringing the HAM radio, but ultimately I left it back in Utah.

It is hard to stay prepared when you can't have much stuff, but we do little things: we have good international medical insurance; I carry a large, well-stocked first aid kit; I brought a water purifier that we have never ever used...those sorts of things.

First aid kits attract me like a magnet--I can hardly resist!  What does another culture think is important, if you just have a few things, to help you in an emergency?

I bought my first foreign first aid kit also here in Uruguay, from a grocery store.  I will have to see if I can find the pictures of it and post another time.

So, this is actually my second Uruguayan first aid kit.  They had a big bin of them at Tienda Inglesa this week, almost as if they're a seasonal item.  They cost $699 pesos Uruguayos, which is about $30.  Jeff told me we don't need more stuff.  I told him it wasn't like we had to take it with us, we could just leave it here in the apartment.  He said good, but it looks like more stuff to him, so he wasn't going to pay for it.  Whatever.  I bought it.  It's not like we have to keep it.

It says:
911 - POLICIA   108 - CAMINERA   104 - BOMBEROS

Or, in other words, it is a:
OF FIRST AID AND ROAD SAFETY  [I didn't know VIAL was a road thing, though, I thought it was vital, meaning very necessary.]
911 - POLICE   108 - HIGHWAY PATROL [Police here don't do traffic stops, I don't think.] 104 - FIREMEN

I thought that was a nice touch to have the important numbers on the outside.
On the back there is a list of contents, in abbreviated Spanish, so I was able to guess about several items.

So, opening it up...

What's in my Purse: First Aid Kit Edition

And here are all of the contents:
ALL RIGHT!  So, starting on the left side...
1) a little LED flash light.  But, it requires 3 AAA batteries, so hopefully you've added them before you're in an emergency and you open the plastic on the first aid kit to discover you need them.
2) 2 big, very absorbent pads.
3) 2 small rolls of loose-weave gauze.
4) 2 packages that each have two square pieces of gauze.  Possibly sterile, possibly non-stick.  Definitely looks like the part you're supposed to put directly on a wound.
5) 1 small roll of medical tape.  The paper kind.
6) 1 small pair of blunt scissors.  With centimeter measurements on both sides.
7) 1 XL neon orange vest, with reflective tape around it.
8) 1 XXL neon yellow vest.
9) 2 pairs of latex gloves.
10) the case it all came in.
11) a red biohazard bag.

Antibiotic ointment?  No.  Tylenol or asprin?  No.  Burn cream?  No.  A band-aid?  No.

That's it, folks!  It puts the "first" in "First Aid" because I don't know of many medical problems that won't require more care than this.  But it is something to start with, anyway.

This is kind of interesting because a couple days ago I saw a couple people stopped on the side of a road, one changing a flat on a scooter, and someone else with a car that had broken down.  In both cases, it was starting to get dark on an unlit road.  The scooter guy was wearing a reflective vest (I think there is a law here saying that people wearing scooters are required to wear a neon vest).  The guy with the broken down car was also wearing a neon vest, and he was popping up a little reflective triangle thing to set in front of his car.  That was it.  No road flares.  No glow sticks.  I was happy for him that he had the little reflector, because 20 minutes after I passed, as it got darker, it would have been really tough to see him.  People drive fast on those roads.

It does seem like a weird kit for in a car.  Do you know what people need here?  Jumper cables.  The law says you have to drive with your lights on all the time, so people forget to turn them off, and then you have a dead battery.  That happened to us once.  We were renting a car at the time, so we called the rental place, and they had us call the automobile club (they had a membership), and someone came out and started it for us.  Another time, I saw someone having their car jumped by the police.  Interesting.  I wouldn't have thought to call the police to jump my car.  We bought a cheap set of jumper cables for our car, just in case. 

So, if you choose to buy the Tienda Inglesa first aid kit, you can basically soak up a bunch of blood from a wound (and dispose of it in a biohazard bag), put a dressing on the wound with maybe-sterile gauze, wrap that with loose, rolled gauze and tape it shut.  Then put on a bright vest and hope someone finds you!  But hopefully, if you're in Uruguay, you'll find the Devoto first aid kit instead, and use that.  It has more useful stuff.  And then if you want a vest, you can easily find those at any large store.

Maybe later I will update with pictures from our other first aid kit, or tell about our hospital visit.  Fun, fun! 

(PS, the first aid kit that we really carry with us for our travels is the Adventure Medical Kits World Travel Kit.  It is a little big, but well worth the luggage space.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trying to get our car washed in Uruguay

I have been trying to get a car wash here in Uruguay.  We want the inside and outside cleaned.

Yesterday I went to a car wash place ("lavadero") in a nearby city that I knew washed cars because when we were looking for a laundry place ("lavadero") before, I called and they said they are a car wash ("lavadero DE AUTOS!").  Except it wasn't the same place, because it was actually a laundry service (where were they when we were needing laundry done??).

But then I found a sign saying LAVADERO - autos - motos - in 50 meters, so I followed the sign and drove past a man sitting in front of his house with a vacuum and a bucket.  Hmm, not what I had in mind.  What would we do in a poor little neighborhood while we waited?  I couldn't imagine that his vacuum could really have adequate suction to get the inside cleaned like we wanted.  I worried that he would have old, very used cleaning materials that would scratch the car.  I don't know, maybe it would have been fine.  Or, maybe it was fine for all of the old cars in his neighborhood but it wasn't the best option for a new car.

I decided to try a gas station, because they offer a service ("complete wash") available for about $15 USD at most (all?) gas stations here, and when I have asked them before they said yes, they can clean the inside and outside.  Most of them don't have a drive through car wash, they have a room with some sprayers; it looks like a decent set-up for a car wash done by hand.

I had this great idea that I would go shopping at the mall while I waited for the car to be washed at a gas station across the parking lot.  Except, they wanted me to wait over 5 hours.  Okay, so I will bring the car back 4 pm?  No, I had to leave it there, no appointments.  Hmmm, okay, Paisley and I can't spend 5 hours at the mall while we just wait for the car to be washed.

So I went to another one, because maybe that one is just busy because other people want to shop while their car is washed also.

They could do it, it would be ready at 4 pm.  And that one was not by any shopping at all!  So...5 hours with nothing to do!  I started to feel kind of frustrated.  I asked him, what, do people take a taxi home?  Do they all live within walking distance?  He said no, and then I didn't understand the rest, I think you bring your car there and they take you home and then they bring you back to pick up your car when it is done.  He asked if I am American.  Yes.  Oh, yes, it is a very popular service among consulate people, etc.  I am about 30% confident that this is the service that he described.  But it sounded awkward, like, instead of taking the time to drive me around town twice, could you just use that time to wash my car?  And it didn't seem like he was really actually offering me a ride back, and installing Paisley's car seat just for a ride seemed like a pain, so I decided not to attempt that.

So I started going to the big store to get car washing supplies so that I could wash it myself, although we don't have a vacuum so I didn't know what I was going to do for that...and I passed another gas station and stopped to ask them.  He said he could do it, but that he needed to finish the one he was doing, so I would have to leave the car.  It will be ready in an hour and a half.  My heart sang!  ESTA BIEN!

The special thing about that place--aside from the really fast service--is that they are a quick 15 minute walk from our apartment!  So we just walked home to wait for the car, and then I will walk back when it is ready.

Just another experience of something that is probably easy and no big deal for Uruguayos, and a confusing hassle for us.