Healthy Holiday Travel

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, November 30, 2007
The holidays are filled with lights and food ... and lots of germs.  Dr. Karen Tait, deputy health officer for Sacramento County, has some tips on how to travel without getting sick ... especially if you're flying this holiday season.

From the Sacramento County Public Health website:

Holiday travel Health Tips

Wash your hands often.

Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. It’s the combination of the soap and scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.

  • Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds (about the length of the Happy Birthday song twice).

  • Rub hands together to make a lather, and scrub all surfaces.

  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

  • If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based gel to clean hands.

Stay warm.
Exposure to cold indoor and outdoor temperatures can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and older adults are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected.

  • Dress warmly in several layers of loose-fitting clothing, and stay dry. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.

  • To prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year. Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage.

  • Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and a smoke detector in your home. Test them monthly, and replace batteries twice yearly.

  • If you are over age 65, place an easy-to-read thermometer in an indoor location, and check the temperature often during the winter months. Your ability to feel a change in temperature decreases with age, and older adults are more susceptible to health problems caused by cold.

Manage stress.
Keep a check on anxiety, over-commitment, and over-spending. The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health.

  • Balance work, home, and play

  • Develop a support network of family and friends

  • Practice time management

  • Do relaxation exercises

  • Keep a relaxed and positive outlook

Travel safely.
Whether it’s across town or around the world, take a few extra minutes to help ensure your trip is safe.

  • Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let someone else drink and drive. Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes.

  • Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.

  • Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child’s height, weight, and age). Children should start using a booster seat when they outgrow their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 pounds). They should continue to ride in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly, typically when they are 4’9” tall.

  • Before you drive in cold weather, restock emergency supplies in your vehicle and listen for radio or television reports of travel advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Avoid traveling in low-visibility conditions or on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges.

Eat healthy and be active.
During the holiday season, we tend to eat and drink more calories. With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way.

  • Eat five to nine fruits and vegetables a day. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy or chocolates.

  • Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat and sugar. Select one or two of your favorites from the host of tempting foods.

  • Find fun ways to stay active, such as playing outdoor games with family members or dancing to your favorite holiday music. Adults should get at least 30 minutes and children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most, preferably all, days of the week.

Prevent injuries.
Injuries from falls, fires, and fireworks often occur around the holidays. The majority of holiday-decorating falls are from ladders, roofs, furniture, stairs, and porches. Most residential fires occur during the winter months. Cooking is the primary cause of residential fires, and smoking is the leading cause of residential fire-related deaths. Fireworks-related injuries often occur on July 4th and New Year’s Eve. Take steps to protect yourself from injuries.

  • Use ladders safely. Use step stools instead of furniture when hanging decorations.

  • Keep candles away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, trees, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including the basement. Be sure to place smoke alarms near rooms where people sleep.

  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals.

    Source: CDC (Centers for Disease Control)