Monday, October 1, 2012

How Do You Stay Germ-Free While Flying?

As flu season approaches, I find myself more aware of possible contagions easily spread in planes and in airports. A new study done by MIT focused on the influence of airports in the spread of viruses. The study listed the top 10 airports most likely to spread disease in the event of a public health crisis. Fortunately, Long Beach Airport (LGB) is nowhere near the top 10 listed, however battling viruses while you travel is a struggle for any person at any airport and seems almost impossible during flu season. There are some simple secrets that I’ve learned over the years that may save you a runny nose and sore throat.

10. Wash Your Hands

It seems Mom was right. Washing your hands is often the first defense between you and pesky flu germs. Fortunately, most airports have an abundance of water and soap located in the bathrooms.

9. Hand Sanitizer

While washing your hands is always good, if you can’t get to soapy warm water, hand sanitizer may be more convenient. Carry a TSA-approved 3 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on. Hand sanitizer is made up of 70 percent alcohol and kills most germs.

8. Bring Travel Cleaning Supplies 

Bring supplies to clean with you, such as disinfecting hand wipes. While we trust the airlines to do their best at cleaning the plane before we board, we as passengers can always lend a hand to creating our own comfort. Simply wipe down your own tray table and armrest before take-off.

7. Keep Your Socks On

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now allows children ages 12 and under to keep their shoes on during the screening process. However, if you’re over the age of 12, you’re still required to take off your shoes while passing through security. One way to avoid contracting a foot infection is to keep your socks on.

6. Wipe Off Your Cell Phone

Speaking of TSA, the same shoes that have just traipsed all over the street, bathrooms and parking garages are placed inside the same bins where you lay your cell phone. Use those handy sanitizing wipes you’ve remembered to bring and wipe off your cell phone before using it. Save yourself from directly breathing in germs.

5. Take Your Daily Dose of Vitamins

When you’re on the move it can be hard to eat your fruits and vegetables. Several doctors have advised me as a frequent flyer to boost my immune system by taking a good quality multivitamin in order to keep myself healthy. A little extra vitamin C is also helpful.

4. Drink Plenty of Water

It’s important to stay hydrated all year long, but it’s especially important when traveling. Consuming water keeps you healthy and strong, allowing you to fight off germs.

3. Bring Your Own Pillow

Skip the pillows and blankets on-board and bring your own. 

2. Get A Flu Shot

Getting a yearly flu shot gives me peace of mind, especially when I’m sitting on an airplane surrounded by coughing, sniffling and sneezing neighbors, because I know that I am protected. Getting vaccinated is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to avoid getting and spreading the flu virus.

1. Stay Stress Free: Fly LGB

Studies show that stress hampers your ability to stay healthy. Keep calm while traveling and try to avoid unnecessary stress.  LGB continues to be known as one of the most stress-free and convenient airports in the area, so LGB is better for your health!

(Mario Rodriguez is Director of Long Beach Airport. He has 25 years of experience in the aviation industry and has overseen airports from Kuwait to New Orleans. Questions about this column may be directed to Public Affairs at the Long Beach Airport 562-570-2678.)

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