Traveling For The Holidays? Safety Tips From The CDC & A Toxicologist
It's the holiday season, and this year, it goes without saying that things look a little different. Here in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still recommending postponing travel and staying home, to limit the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, some folks will undoubtedly opt to travel this month, whether that means driving or flying.
If you do decide to catch a flight and find yourself in an airport, here are some things to keep in mind to protect yourself and others, according to the CDC's guidelines—plus some extra tips from molecular toxicologist and germ expert Rhea Mehta, Ph.D.:
1. Stay home if you're feeling sick.
If you aren't feeling well, don't try to kid yourself into thinking you're OK to travel. Know the symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home if you feel sick. Most domestic airlines right now offer a cancellation refund policy, given the pandemic.
Other pre-travel considerations include getting a test three to five days before your flight, and staying home until you get results, to ensure you're not flying while infected.
2. Look into the airline's COVID-19 policy.
As much as possible, try to book with a company that is closely adhering to COVID-19 protocol. This can include requiring people to wear a mask; exercising social distancing on flights by spreading passengers apart; using online or contactless reservations and check-ins; and of course, amped-up cleaning procedures.
3. Follow basic protocol.
Mehta says her advice for holiday travel is "100% COVID-protocol, so, social distancing where possible, masks (N95 or surgical quality), and cleaning hands with soap or hand sanitizer." Before you head out, be sure you have these products easily accessible in your bag. (Here are our favorite natural and CDC-approved hand sanitizers, plus a portable hand soap you can stow in your carry-on.)
Mehta also recommends doubling up with a face shield over your mask for added safety and reminds folks to keep their masks on, even in the bathroom. Also, remember to avoid touching your face.
4. Keep disinfectant wipes in your carry-on.
Lastly, Mehta recommends using disinfecting wipes on seats and surfaces (both in the airport and on the plane). Don't forget to wipe down your own high-touch items like your cellphone, headphones, pens, etc., before and after traveling too.
The bottom line.
The most surefire way to keep from getting sick this holiday season is to stay home and avoid traveling. If that's not an option for you, taking every precaution possible is paramount. Make sure you're cleared to travel to protect those around you, keep that mask on, and have your wipes at the ready. Safe travels!
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