Iceland Health Care and Vaccinations
Iceland is a very safe country to visit. There are no serious health conditions associated with the country and no inoculations are required for entry. The emergency number for medical assistance is 112 (24 hours). For European visitors who are taken ill or have an accident, free or reduced-cost treatment is available - in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC gives access to state-provided medical treatment only. Icelandic healthcare is of a high Western standard. In each town you will find an Apotek (pharmacy) which has a green plus sign outside it.
Food and Drink
Icelandic water is safe to drink and there is no need to buy bottled water. There are no specific food or drink risks in the country.
Weather and risky behaviour in unpredictable terrain is the largest health risk to the traveller in Iceland. Weather changes quickly and the temperatures can be more extreme than elsewhere in the world, so you must be prepared if embarking on hiking trails or extreme pursuits. Bring warm clothing, check weather reports and leave messages with your hotel or hostel about where you are going and when you expect to be back. Remote areas in the Highlands can have no mobile phone coverage and are not regularly visited so you must be prepared.
Safe Travel (www.safetravel.is) allows you to leave travel plans online, suggests equipment lists and has road and weather information. If you plan to pursue extreme sports or outdoors activities in the country, be sure that your insurance covers them. If you have an accident, helicopter transport might be necessary to one of the country’s main hospitals in Reykjavík or Akureyri.
The country is seismically active, but there is little risk to the traveller as long as local information is heeded. Hikers who disregarded warning information from the police about walking routes near active volcanoes in recent years have suffered the consequences. Volcanic activity is monitored closely and warnings are posted so it is very unlikely that you will encounter an entirely unexpected eruption. Be sure to stick to well-marked paths in volcanically active areas of national parks (and even in well-known tourist areas such as those around Geysir) as the unstable ground can be dangerous, and frequent small earthquakes can weaken ground substantially.
Car crashes are the other serious threat to health in the country. Drive safely, obey all traffic laws and do not drink and drive. Be sure that you have read and understood the local traffic laws as many are posted on signs in Icelandic only; take a map with you as GPS can be unpredictable, and let people know where you are going and when you should be expected to arrive.
Iceland’s animals do not present much risk; horses can bite but it is rare. In the summer, some areas including Myvatn in the north can suffer from midges. Cover up and take repellent to solve the problem.
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