In 2016, 103 million Americans (nearly one third of the population) traveled for the year-end holidays between December 23rd and January 2nd. Are you leaving town this holiday season? Be sure to stay safe with these tips!
If you’re traveling by car:
- Fill the gas tank, check the tire air pressure, and make sure the windshield fluid is full before departing.
- Make sure all passengers wear a seatbelt at all times. Be sure car seats are installed properly (check out Car Seats for the Littles (https://csftl.org) for help).
- Drive the speed limit - driving over or under the speed limit increases the chance of being involved in an accident. Pay particular attention to your speed in work zones.
- Avoid cell phone distractions. If necessary, download a free app such as LifeSaver or AT&T Drive Mode to block text messages and calls while driving.
- Get plenty of rest and eat a snack before departing on a long trip. Highly caffeinated beverages are not necessarily the best way to stay awake. Their effects recede with time and your mind may be more likely to wander.
- Even if you don’t feel sleepy, take a break every couple hours. Stretch your legs, eat a snack, and take a quick nap if you need it.
- If possible, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This way, you can keep an eye on each other and nap without losing time.
- If you’re driving alone, turn on some music and crack the window. If driving at night, you may want to avoid using cruise control. Concentrating on maintaining your speed can keep you awake.
- If you suspect car trouble, pull as far off the road as possible. Never park on the shoulder unless it is an emergency.
- Consider becoming a member of AAA or your insurer’s roadside assistance program. If your car breaks down or you lock your keys in the car, help is only a phone call away.
- Make an emergency preparedness kit to keep in your vehicle. Include water, snacks, a flashlight, a first aid kit, extra cash, and blankets.
- Stop at a grocery store rather than a convenience store for snacks and drinks. You’ll have more healthy options to choose from and will pay lower prices.
If you’re traveling by plane, train, or bus:
- Wash hands often with soap and water. Carry hand sanitizer to use when washing your hands is not possible. Hand sanitizer is very effective when used properly. Use at least a dime-sized amount; hands should still feel wet ten seconds after application. Choose a formula with at least 60 percent alcohol - anything less isn’t effective and may actually encourage bacterial growth.
- Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down armrests, tray tables, and other frequently touched areas.
- Avoid touching your face. Germs most readily enter the body through your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- The changing cabin pressure on a plane alters vibrations in the eardrum, often causing pain. Taking deep breaths, chewing gum, or sucking on candy can help. The Valsalva maneuver can also be very effective: Pinch your nostrils together and then blow gently. This can equalize the pressure in your ears. Repeat as needed.
- Sitting for long periods can increase your risk of deep-vein thrombois (DVT), also known as blood clots. The risk is highest for people who have other risk factors such as obesity, a recent surgery, or cancer and those over the age of 40. You can lower your risk by:
- Frequently extending your legs and flexing your ankles
- Standing up to stretch at least every hour
- Holding your knees to your chest for 10 intervals of 15 seconds each
- Wearing compression stockings
- Taking a low dosage of aspirin the days before, during, and after your trip to improve blood flow (consult with your doctor first)
Be sure to bring your insurance information and any medications you’re taking with you on your trip. If you get sick or hurt while traveling, remember that an urgent care center can treat all non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries at the fraction of the cost of an emergency room. Integrity Urgent Care is open from 8 am - 8 pm every day and no appointment is necessary! Click here to find a location near you.
Sources: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Travel-Safely-During-Thanksgiving-Holiday, http://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/holiday-travel-forecast/, https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/06/19/top-20-safe-driving-tips/, https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/11/30/6-tips-for-staying-healthy-when-you-fly/#231527df3f9e