COOL*SAFE in SOUTH AFRICA 23. June 2020 – Posted in: Travel-Blog

An exciting and unforgettable trip to South Africa lies behind me and I can say, that without the “Cool Safe cool bag” and without the great and indispensable tips of the employee of “artemed products”, Mrs. Paulmann, I would certainly not have managed the trip without problems.

In preparation for our big and unique round trip, which would take us in February 2019 for 20 days from Johannesburg via the Kruger National Park, through the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, past the mighty backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains, along the Indian Ocean on the Wild Coast via the Garden Route to finally reach Cape Town, I had already started the preparations weeks before. I knew that we would not be staying in hotels, but authentically in lodges and that every day we would be staying in a different place and under different circumstances

In wise foresight, my rheumatologist has equipped me with the “Cool Safe cool bag”. Since I needed some more information, I contacted “Artemed products”. Here I was immediately given information about the long-term cooling of the medicines. I experimented with the cold packs at home, wrote down how long the cold packs would last, inserted a thermometer for checking, so that I got a “feeling” for the cooling behavior.

Contrary to my fears, the transport of the drugs in the airplane was totally unproblematic, at the check-in the bag was accepted and waved through without any problems and without further control. After 18 hours of travel time the inside bag still had a temperature of 6 degrees. So I had already made it through this first difficult part of the journey! During the night flight the medicine bag had been lying in the baggage compartment of the airplane and there is almost fridge temperature during the night. Did you know that?

At the airport in Johannesburg – on arrival we already had 30 degrees there in the morning- I then put in the replacement set of cold packs. Now our journey continued on site with a sprinter. There was no fridge here, just a big camping cooler, which was refilled with ice from time to time for cooling. No way for me and my medicines!

Our travel group was very small, besides the tour guide, who was also the driver, a total of 11 people took part in this tour. Although the temperatures in the minibus rose up to 38 degrees, I stayed completely cool. The thermometer showed me 7 degrees in my “cool safe” until the evening.

In the first lodge there was a refrigerator, but unfortunately no freezer. The syringes went into the fridge for the night, I left my 12 cold packs in the kitchen with the request to freeze them – cooling is definitely not enough! Nevertheless, the next morning I got 5 more or less frozen cold packs back, the rest were just cold. The thermometer is actually not recommended, but since I wanted to be on the safe side, I packed it in wise foresight. So this should be a stroke of luck already on this second day.

As my cool packs were not fully frozen, I took the black inner pouch out of the “Cool Safe” and put it in the refrigerator, as I had noticed that the cooling temperature for the medicines is reached faster this way. This is not in the instructions for use, but I found this procedure useful for me, as I would be on the road for 18 hours and could not easily fall back on frozen cool packs.

Of course this was annoying, but fortunately I had already considered this possibility before. Extract from the instruction leaflet of my medicine: “Medicine B. can be stored outside the refrigerator for a one-time period of up to 4 weeks at temperatures up to 25 degrees maximum. It must not be refrigerated again after this period”.  I could never keep 3 to 8 degrees Celsius over the day with these half-frozen batteries, since we already had another 38 degrees in the bus at noon. So I had to make sure that I kept the temperature of the drugs below 25 degrees. The air conditioning did not work as we expected due to the high ambient temperatures. An air conditioner in South Africa just doesn’t work like an air conditioner in Germany – a bitter realization especially in the first week of our trip, but we slowly got used to this fact. We accepted the extremely good late summer weather, what else could we do? Actually, we had expected temperatures around 27 degrees at most.

Already in the second afternoon of our trip, the inside pocket of my cool bag had 15 degrees, as I did not have any fully frozen cool packs from the beginning. The biological stayed in the “Cool Safe” for the rest of the trip, the refrigerator in the rooms would have been too cold. Fortunately I had my thermometer! I always kept the temperature in the inside pocket of the “Cool Safe” between 10 and 20 degrees. I didn’t want to risk a rheumatic attack during the trip, but I consider it my duty of care to handle such a high quality and expensive medicine with care! After all, this biological has saved me from further rheumatic attacks in the last 6 months!

I kept the rest of the cold packs always deep-frozen at night – partly I put them in kitchens and partly I had a small freezer in the refrigerator of our lodge. Such a small freezer does not cool down to -18° C, as it would be required. Then I had to repack the col packs at night or reload the bag, because with more than 30 degrees also at night the cooling duration of the cool packs did not last so long.  I had the remaining cold packs well packed in a second smaller cool bag  and kept them always near me during the day, so that I could change them any time. If the cold packs were not completely frozen in the afternoon anymore, I just put 4 or also 5 into it.

The packaging of the cold packs was also great for me. They were delivered in a bag with zip closure. When I dropped the cold packs off in the kitchen at night, I always made sure that they had not been in direct contact with other things. I was able to keep the outer packaging clean with a cloth.

When I took out the last pen in the last week of the trip, the medication was still clear, as required.

Without any further problems I was able to make this great and for me unique trip, which we had wished for so much. We covered 4500 km in a sprinter, plus about 200 km on the Game Drives during the animal observations. Who can talk about that you have seen the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, rhino, leopard and lion) in the Kruger National Park on only one day in the wild? If the great poverty of this wonderful country had not brought us back down to earth every day, we would have thought we were in paradise.

So I thank you very much, dear Mrs. Paulmann, much for your good tips and the friendly telephone conversations.  In the end, these too have given me a lot of security.

Warm regards

Anna H., Germany