Up to 20% of travelers report getting sick in the days following an airplane flight.1 And holiday travel is riskier than any other time of the year. Cold and flu season is in full swing. And planes, hotels, and restaurants are packed.
Here are five of the germiest spots travelers encounter and how to protect yourself:
1. Hotel Remotes and Light Switches: Housekeeping often neglects these two items. A University of Houston study found they are as germy as a toilet seat.2
To put a barrier between you and the remote, cover it with a plastic bag from the ice bucket. And use a tissue to flip the light switch. Or bring your own sanitizer to wipe down these two germ hotspots.
2. Gas Pump Handles: A survey of six U.S. cities found that fuel pump handles were the most germ-infested public surfaces tested.
Scientists found that 71% of gas pump handles had high levels of contamination.
This compares to:
- 68% of mailbox handles
- 43% of escalator rails
- 41% of ATM buttons
- 40% of parking meters/kiosks
- 35% of crosswalk buttons
- 35% of vending machine buttons3
Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your car so you’re prepared to clean up after touching the pump and other bacteria havens. The Honest Company carries several that are safe and natural.4
3. Airplane Tray Tables: Airplanes are full of harmful microbes. This includes influenza, MRSA, and E. coli.5 And tray tables are the most likely surface to make you ill. They are directly in the line of fire of coughs and sneezes. Passengers even change baby diapers on them.
Disinfect your tray table with a natural sanitizing spray. There’s even an antimicrobial cover you can find online. It’s called the trayGUARD+®.
4. Restaurant Menus: Menus rarely—if ever—get a deep cleaning. Studies have found they are the filthiest item on a restaurant table, carrying an average of about 185,000 germs. That includes E. coli.6 This bacteria found in feces causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea…and sometimes death.
Wash your hands or use sanitizer after ordering.
5. Water Fountains: Water from public fountains can be dirtier than toilet water. That’s according to Dr. Phillip Tierno of New York University Medical Center.7 It’s because the nozzles are rarely cleaned.
Carry a reusable glass water bottle. Or opt for a BPA-free plastic one. If you must drink out of a fountain, Dr. Rebecca Ferrell says, “Let the water run for a couple of seconds before you drink from it.” This flushes loose bacteria from the nozzle.8 She’s a professor of biology at Metro State University.
Boosting your immune system is the most effective way to stay healthy through the holidays. Start with the vitamin that fights inflammation and prevents viruses in under an hour. Before you hop on a plane, you’ll want to know the “10-minute rule.” It limits your exposure to millions of dangerous microbes. Find out these and other tips for bulletproofing your immunity here.
In Good Health,
Publisher, INH Health Watch