Four Easy Ways to Fight Germs during Holiday Travels
Millions of Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays with family or enjoy an
exotic vacation. Donna Duberg, assistant professor of biomedical laboratory science
at Saint Louis University, suggests taking action to keep germs at bay so sickness
doesn’t ruin an eagerly anticipated getaway.
“Hand sanitizer is my secret weapon. I use it every time I grab a drink or a cookie,
sit down to rest and even before I go to the bathroom. You can even put it on a tissue
and have a ready-made disinfectant wipe,” Duberg says.
Here are some other strategies Duberg uses to stay healthy when she is on the road:
When flying: Avoid the aisle seat on planes, where you will be exposed to more people, some coughing
and sneezing as they share their germs. Wipe down seat trays and armrests on planes
and trains with disinfectant wipes because cold and flu viruses can live up to 72
hours on plastic surfaces. Remember that the handle you push to flush the toilet is
the germiest place on the plane, so wash your hands after pressing it.
When checking into a hotel: Give your hotel room the once over before you unpack. It should smell fresh and
not look dirty – trash in waste baskets, dust on the window blinds and schmutz on
carpets – are clues that it can be extra germy. In particular, Duberg cleans the TV remote
before she will touch it. She also sometimes brings her own pillow or a pillowcase
because the average pillow has more than 350,000 potential live bacteria colonies.
Drink plenty of water: Among many benefits, proper hydration keeps your body cool, promotes cardiovascular
health and keeps things flowing in your gastrointestinal track, which prevents constipation.
If you feel thirsty, you’re not drinking enough.
Practice personal hygiene: Keep your hands away from your “T-zone” – your eyes, nose and mouth where germs can easily enter the body. Sneeze or cough
into the crook of your elbow. Get the crusties off your child’s nose. And don’t let
the change in routine disrupt taking a daily shower, brushing your teeth and wearing
clean clothes every day. Make sure you pack enough underwear or plan to take the time
to do laundry.
“And, perhaps most important of all course, I wash my hands – it goes without saying
after I go to the bathroom and after I cough, sneeze or blow my nose. I lather up
with warm soapy water and rinse for about 20 seconds, which is about the amount of
time it takes to remove germs and sing Happy Birthday twice. I’m a real zealot when
it comes to hand hygiene,” Duberg said.